Why Twitter snipers love to hate new boy Jack
Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30
A few weeks ago, I'd never heard of Jack Chambers. A few weeks ago, nobody had heard of Jack Chambers.
Now the 25-year-old has bagged Fianna Fáil its first seat in Dublin West since the late Brian Lenihan and is well on the way to becoming the most reviled TD in the Dáil. That, I'm sure you'll agree, is quite an impressive distinction for one so young in the face of so much more experienced competition.
Chambers' crime is to have ridiculous views on abortion, most notably his risible contention that the people don't have the right to vote to repeal the hateful 8th because, in his immortal words: "I am pro-life."
It's the kind of ridiculous, naive assertion of certitude we should expect from someone of his age, and he was promptly spanked on social media and the proper papers for both his views and, inevitably, his hair (hair is an important weapon when it comes to slagging politicians).
All of that was fine and perfectly acceptable - politicians are there to be popped at and if they can't take the heat they should get out of the bedroom, or however that metaphor goes.
But what made the story interesting was how the very people slagging him on Twitter also tend to be the kind of folk who react with fury whenever a candidate they like is ribbed for our pleasure.
This is the great double standard of modern discourse - the capacity to go from nought to bonkers in 140 characters when confronted with an idea you don't share, while also defending the right to deride those thought-criminals you don't like.
This is where we are as a culture - the stubborn refusal to realise that if you dish it out to someone you don't like, you can't complain when the mob turns on someone you do like.
For the record, I thought some of the Chambers' tweets were actually quite funny and some of them were stupid and some of them were obviously the product of diseased minds. In other words, it was roughly what any politician can expect.
The thing is - all politicians are fair game, not just the ones you don't like. Yet we now exist in a climate where any criticism of a female TD is automatically denounced as sexist. In fact, I have a growing list of wimmin politicians who have tried to play the 'sexism' card whenever I've pointed out their obvious inadequacies.
I nearly said these self-appointed guardians of who we can mock and who we can't live in their own intellectual straitjacket. But it would perhaps be more accurate to say they are secured snugly and smugly into their own intellectual chastity belt, determined to remain politically and intellectually virtuous and unsullied by the rapacious demands of a different point of view - forget compos mentis, this is about mentis intacto.
In much the same way that modern university students claim that opinions they don't like can actually harm their mental health, we have become a culture which is, ultimately, fundamentally incurious about other ideas or points of view.
Chambers' crime was to be pro-life and probably out of his depth. People disagreed with him and were perfectly entitled to slag him. They are not, however, entitled to demand the right to lampoon him while simultaneously removing that privilege from their political opponents.
One hack called for a 'nationwide bully circle' to surround Chambers and then, like the coward she is, deleted her Twitter account.
For the record, all mockery is fair game - all of it. Otherwise we'd have no South Park or Spitting Image.
I'm not the police of good taste - but neither are you. So stop telling others what they can say.
Don't mess with 'The Dark Tower'... it's a literary classic
With the exception of the woefully underrated Andrew Vachss, Stephen King is my favourite author.
Trying to be definitive about such a vast category is a fool's errand, of course. But when I meet my maker and he asks my favourite author - and admits that he has never heard of Vachss - Stephen King gets my vote.
Apart from anything else, The Dark Tower is the greatest literary feat I've ever consumed.
I read the first of the seven novels when I was a kid and devoured the last one as soon as it was published in 2004. It's the unifying theory of King and a truly astonishing work which is genuinely loved by millions.
So the news that they are finally going into production with a series of movies was greeted with unconfined joy - until it emerged that Idris Elba will play the hero, Roland.
There's just one problem - Roland is white. Elba, in case you haven't noticed, is not. So white is Roland, in fact, that he is compared to Clint Eastwood by one of the characters and another principal player hates him because of his whiteness ('honky mahfa' being their preferred term of abuse).
In other words, Roland's skin colour is a crucial factor in The Dark Tower and now that racial tension has been completely thrown out by the screenwriters.
Elba is a fine actor and would make a fine James Bond. King's 'Constant Readers' have been accused of racism for objecting, but since when has it been wrong to want a character on screen to at least bear a passing resemblance to the character from the book?
Harrumph, I say. Harrumph!
A simple question from a simple man to his undeniably sophisticated readership - do you know anyone who supports the Luas strikers?
It's an honest question because I've never seen such contempt for an act of industrial disruption.
We have a long tradition of supporting industrial action in this country and even though I'm not a member of a union, I'm also the son of a former shop steward and would never dream of crossing a picket line.
But like most people, I'd have no problem running a gauntlet of angry strikers to get on my local Luas to get into work. There's a difference between striking for a principle - the Dunnes strikers for example - and striking for a 58pc pay rise when the country is still on its knees.
In fact, this has all the hallmarks of a shakedown, rather than legitimate industrial action. But there's a simple solution. Sack the strikers and hire people to do the job at the going rate. This isn't a regular strike. They plan to hit Paddy's day and the Easter weekend.
This happening in a country where people are constantly exhorted to forgo their car to use public transport. Inevitably, People Before Profit supports the strikers. If that's not a good enough reason to pull a Reagan and sack all the drivers the way the Gipper sorted out the air traffic controllers, then I don't know what is.