Sunday 4 December 2016

No need for all this abuse

Published 30/01/2011 | 05:00

Sir -- It is disconcerting that someone who identifies himself as Professor Emeritus of Modern History at University College Dublin should descend to the language of personal abuse in his "Forget GUBU..." column about Brian Cowen in last Sunday's edition of your newspaper.

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Instead of succumbing to the hysterical 'blame contagion' of the tabloids to Mr Cowen's litany of blunders, one might have expected that someone of Ronan Fanning's academic stature would have engaged in an objective and critical analysis of the manner in which the tabloid press, and indeed the media in general, cover bizarre political events. Personal or 'ad hominem' attacks, much less pejorative nicknames, ought to play no part in scholarly commentary on political personalities of the present or past.

Pandering to the populace seems to take precedence for Mr Fanning over adhering to the standards one hopes he instils into his students of history. His repetition of the word 'ignorant' which he has extracted from the nickname 'Biffo' bears the hallmark of a subjective rant, evokes the sinister undertones one associates with labelling and verbal aggression and, ultimately, tells us as much, if not more, about Mr Fanning than it does about Mr Cowen. Many psychologists see blamers as having tendencies to be ego defensive, chronically insecure and narcissistic.

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