Monday 23 September 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Bravery of Thomas and Nelson shines through and shames the hate-filled bullying of the trolls'

Inspiration: Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas. Photo: Getty Images
Inspiration: Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas. Photo: Getty Images

I watched, with a degree of sadness and triumph, two people, both from very diverse backgrounds, whose lives were dramatically changed by their courage to speak out about homophobia and bullying in their respective professions.

One was Gareth Thomas, a Welsh rugby star and an international player who came out as openly gay, and the other, Jesy Nelson from the girl group Little Mix.

I sat and watched their highs and lows of being in the media spotlight and the challenges they had to deal with from homophobia and online bullying.

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Time and time again we see the sinister use of social media by keyboard warriors, whether anonymous or using pseudonyms, to attack people they don't know or have never met.

Whether through jealousy or through their narcissistic viewpoint, their disease-laden comments have destroyed lives even to the extent where their hate-filled comments caused the deaths of others.

Gareth Thomas managed to get an amendment to a bill into the UK parliament that would put homophobic and transphobic abuse on a par with racial abuse at sporting events. But Brexit has stymied the passage of the bill.

When he was attacked by a group of thugs in his beloved Cardiff he didn't fight back but offered his perpetrators the hand of friendship and restorative justice.

While Jesy Nelson, through 'X Factor', shot to fame overnight, she said it was the saddest moment of her life as she was targeted by online trolls who made her life hell.

Thankfully both these wonderful people have managed to rise above those who would seek to do them harm and have moved on with their lives, accepting who they are while their detractors live in their hate-filled hubs with no ambition and no happiness in their lives.

It is time that we all stood, not just by our words but by our actions against those who refuse to treat others equally and to prevent any form of racism, homophobia or bullying that would cause untold damage to the lives of loved ones.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal


Johnson's antics bring humiliation on the UK

Reading Colette Browne's excellent column ("Brexiteers are learning their stereotype of the Irish as drunken, idiotic apes is somewhat off the mark", Irish Independent, September 11), on the difference between the demeanours of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Neanderthal, mini-Trump unelected Prime Minister Boris Johnson, brings to mind Terry Thomas's famous exclamation: "Absolute shower."

As Brits, our descent into democratic oblivion is leading us, not before time, to find an ounce of backbone to confront our "betters". Thinking about this, what is alarmingly frightening is that it has taken sight of this double-dealing neo-Churchillian sociopath to make Leo look like a statesman.

Harry Charalambou

Muswell Hill, London


Varadkar has got it right about the Herculean task

May I make so bold as to elucidate for your readers a comment made by Leo Varadkar in his speech of welcome to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson? Leo offered to be "your friend and ally, your Athena" to Boris as he undertook the "Herculean task" of negotiating free-trade agreements with the EU and US and securing their ratification in less than three years.

For the benefit of those not classically trained, Hercules was obliged to perform the 12 labours as an act of penitence after he had descended into madness and murdered his wife, Megara, and his children.

At the moment he was about to go on and kill his foster father, Amphitryon, Athena intervened.

Seeing that he had gone mad, she struck Hercules down and knocked him out to prevent him causing more bloodshed than he had already done.

No doubt this was intended as an in-joke between some classicist in the Irish civil service and the classically educated Boris.

But the message is pretty pointed... we will knock you out rather than let you do more harm... and by the way, that's some task you are going to have to perform if you want free-trade agreements with the US and the EU.

Leo also mentioned that any free-trade agreement with the EU would have to be ratified by 31 parliaments within the EU.

The inference was clear: Ireland has a veto on any free-trade agreement the UK might seek with the EU - oh, and by the way, Ireland's EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has just been nominated for the EU's Trade Commissioner role, in charge of all trade negotiations.

Now about that Northern Ireland-only backstop that I was mentioning the other day ...

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow


My hair-raising plan to solve political disasters

There is some debate as to the qualities that make for the best political leaders. Most are eloquent, well presented, generally intelligent, although not always, and honest, although not always.

Rather than looking for features that are common to the well-respected leaders of the world's countries we need to look for something that is common to those we don't hold up as the leading lights. The most obvious feature is an obsession with unusual hair, as is apparent with Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Kim Jong-un.

The answer is simple. Vote for the bald guy - me. I have never accepted a bribe although this has been made easier by never having been offered one either. I am always willing to give my opinion on any topic and am used to it being ignored despite its obvious wisdom.

Don't miss out on an opportunity to elect me whenever I stand next and remember vote early and vote often.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia


Trump poses grave threat to freedom of expression

The national preoccupation with Brexit in England and Ireland has taken our eye off the blatant intensification of President Trump's racism and disdain for ethnic diversity as he seeks to make America white again. The programme of appeasement conducted by the British and the Irish has been seriously misguided. What is becoming increasingly obvious is that Donald Trump sees Americans as a race not as a nation, a race that he seeks to purify.

What we are now seeing is the wreckage of political principle and practice that will not be mended easily. Trump has become increasingly untouchable as he relentlessly seeks to undermine the rule of law by demonising, demoting, dismissing and degrading opponents. Washington has become a place where truth-telling and public decency have died the death.

Trump's inflated yet precarious narcissistic image of himself inhibits critical self-analysis. I have yet to see a photograph of him seated without those defensive, tightly folded arms that reveal deep-rooted insecurity and fear that his world will fall apart. He does not believe, as most of us do, that the truth will set us free. On the contrary, he feels the need to be free from the truth so he can engage with what he sees as the pragmatic demands of his office. Since Trump became president, misinformation and blatant lies have gone mainstream.

What is most worrying is Trump's relentless excoriation of the press, posing a persistent threat to freedom of expression. Ronald Reagan once remarked that freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.

Like all fanatical autocrats, Trump redoubles his efforts as he steadily loses sight of his aims. As Macbeth is said to have murdered sleep, Trump has murdered truth.

Philip O'Neill

Edith Road, Oxford


Magical time of year that shows nature at its best

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun." Isn't this time of the year so charming. Tree leaves bedecked in a glorious golden hue. Air crisp and fresh. A walking wonderland of enchantment. The wood so quiet, as she prepares for her long winter sojourn. Squirrels busy stashing away nuts for retrieval. Some of our little friends already hibernating in anticipation of spring. Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. When the first frost arrives the wood will be covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon. Crunchy leaves underfoot. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. The leaves are all falling, and they're falling like they're falling in love with the ground. Autumn, you are magical.

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

Irish Independent

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