Demonising the masses

Brendan O’Neill, in his Spiked.com newsletter today talks sense, as he usually does.

Meghan Markle’s best friend says the people criticising Meghan over her woke blather and eco-hypocrisy are really just ‘racist bullies’. It’s a view shared by many in the chattering classes. You couldn’t have asked for a better illustration of the elitism of identity politics. Accusations of racism no longer have anything to do with real racism. Rather, the ‘racist’ tag is used by the establishment to write off ordinary people who get ideas above their station, whether by voting for Brexit, questioning mass immigration, or – horror of horrors – criticising a royal. Identity politics is increasingly the means through which the elite demonises the masses and elevates itself as a superior, more enlightened caste of people. And they have the nerve to call us prejudiced.

Where good intentions can sometimes lead

Remote control: San Francisco, the new centre of power in Ireland?


Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. Good intentions gave us the Protestant Reformation. One part of the world sees that epoch as one of the better things that happened in our history. Another part of the world gets a definite whiff of sulphur from it. The same applies to the French Revolution – not even all the French are are unambivalent about that one. Karl Marx, and his offspring, the Russian Revolution, was undoubtedly inspired by a desire to better the lot of mankind – but very few people are today in any doubt about the hellish misery, death and destruction which flowed from that package of good intentions.

It seems that modern capitalism is now, with good intentions, attempting to reform itself according to the new ethics which we call political correctness. But the shallow philosophical foundations of the ethics of political correctness provide no basis for any stable political or economic framework for society. It is as wrong-headed as the extremist readings of mankind which the Enlightenment or the murderous logic of dialectical materialism left us with.

The Economist cover-story this week asks what companies are for. The magazine notes how a growing number of people want big business to help fix economic and social problems.

“Even America’s famously ruthless bosses agree”, its editor-in-chief says, Zanny Minton Beddoes, says. “This week more than 180 of them, including the chiefs of Walmart and JPMorgan Chase, overturned three decades of orthodoxy to pledge that their firms’ purpose was no longer to serve their owners alone, but customers, staff, suppliers and communities, too.

“That sounds nice. However, this new form of collective capitalism will end up doing more harm than good. It risks entrenching a class of unaccountable CEOs who lack legitimacy. And it is a threat to the dynamism that is the source of long-term prosperity—the basic condition for capitalism to succeed.”

Ireland is a country which, small as it is, has left a mark on the world. Not too many would argue that this mark was for ill rather than for good. If it did so it did it in spite of dungeon, fire and sword. The power which governed it, over four long an painful centuries, attempted to impose the Protestant Reformation on its people. It failed.

Eventually the Irish people broke free of the hegemony of the British Empire. Independence was won in the early twentieth century and the new Republican-inspired State sought to make its way in the world alone. It was too much and in the last third of the century it bargained – or bartered – its sovereignty with the embryonic new State which is the European Union. It’s independence now is a very notional thing. It has also become the European footprint for a very large segment of the corporate world.

This corporate powerhouse is the foundation of Ireland’s prosperity and Ireland’s elected government is now beholden to the twin masters of the European super-state and a handful of giant American corporations for the massive level of employment they bring to the country and the tax revenue this generates.

This brings us back to the Economist. This, of course, is not the dimension of the new direction of capitalism which preoccupies the writers of What Companies are For. But it is a dimension which is very real for the Irish – or at least some of them.

The Irish are already very aware of the significant soft power which these corporations and European political institutions have exercised, overtly and covertly, on the moulding of its social policies. Abortion ideology, gender ideology and neo-Marxist relativism, permeate the social culture of these organisations Ireland’s recent changes in social legislation are simply following this script to the letter.

But if over many centuries the Irish resisted the efforts of an external power to undermine and subvert its traditional Christian reading of what human existence means, they no longer do so.

The majority of the Irish have overcome their rebellious instincts and are now happily accepting the “nice” collective capitalism bestowed on them by the benevolent dictatorship of of “unaccountable CEOs who lack legitimacy.”

A Nation Once Again was an anthem composed by the Irish patriotic poet, Thomas Davis, in the nineteenth century. Today it has a rather hollow ring.

 

The painful death of liberalism

PIERS MORGAN: Populism is rising because liberals have become unbearable. In my core, I’m probably more liberal than not although fundamentally I see myself as a journalist and I like to see both sides and I can argue both sides of all these things, but liberals have become utterly, pathetically illiberal and it is a massive problem.

What’s the point of calling yourself a liberal if you don’t allow anyone else to have a different view? This snowflake culture that we now operate in, the victimhood culture, the everyone has to think in a certain way, behave a certain way. Everyone has to have a bleeding heart and tell you 20 things that are wrong with them. I just think it is all completely skewed to an environment where everyone is offended by everything and no one is allowed to say a joke.

If you said a joke ten years ago that offended somebody, you can never host the Oscars. So now there’s no host for anything. The Emmy’s now just said they’re not gonna host either, so hosts have gone, and soon, every award winner will go because everyone’s a human being and we’re all flawed, so no one can win awards anymore because there will be no platform before they even get on the podium, so then no hosts, no stars. Then no one can make any movies because we’re all flawed, so no actors, so suddenly, where are we?

The liberals get what they want, which is a humorless void where nothing happens, no one dares do anything or laugh about anything or behave in any way that doesn’t suit their rigid way of leading a life. No thanks. So what’s happening around the world? Populism is rising because people are fed up with the PC culture. They’re fed up with snowflakery, they’re fed up with people being offended by everything and they’re gravitating towards forceful personalities who go: “This is all nonsense!”

Which, by the way, it is in most cases. So why are we surprised? I’m not surprised. It doesn’t mean to say I agree with all of it, but it means I can understand it, and I understand why the liberals, my side, if you like, are getting it so horribly wrong. They just wanna tell people, not just how to lead their lives, but if you don’t lead it the way I tell you to it’s a kind of version of fascism. If you don’t lead the life the way I’m telling you to then I’m going to ruin your life. I’m gonna scream abuse at you. I’m gonna get you fired from your job. I’m gonna get you hounded by your family and friends. I’m gonna make you the most disgusting human being in the world.

Watch the clip here via Real Clear Politics:

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/08/20/piers_morgan_the_left_have_become_unbearable.html

Watch the full interview here:

Will the lions go hungry?

Kamala Harris?

 

The Hill reports that Senators Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), both Democratic Presidential hopefuls, are coming under scrutiny over appearances the Democratic presidential candidates made with a Las Vegas pastor who has described homosexuality as a sin.

Surely that will finish them – unless they do a very quick and convincing about-turn! They must now formally deny the principles of Christian morality and worship at the altar of postmodernity. Otherwise they will be thrown to the lions.

But guess what, they are already apostatising

Both senators separately attended services last week with Rev. Robert E. Fowler Sr. at Victory Missionary Baptist Church, one of the state’s largest black churches. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another presidential contender, held a town hall at the church on July 6, but did not appear with Fowler or attend a service led by him.

Fowler in a 2013 interview with Nevada Public Radio said homosexuality was enough to send someone to hell, while comparing it to other sins.

“Whether you commit adultery, whether you commit fornication, whether you’re a child molester, you gossip, you lie, you cheat on your taxes, you don’t pay your tithes, things of that nature — all of that is wrapped together as sin, along with homosexuality,” Fowler said. 

“Any sin, if you break the law in one area, you’ve broken it in all areas. If you mess up in one area, that’s enough to send you to hell — so any sin is pretty bad for me,” he said. 

Fowler’s office did not respond to The Hill when asked about his past remarks and meetings with the candidates, but he affirmed his stance on homosexuality in an interview with the Bay Area News Group on Sunday.

“Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, those are all sexual sins addressed in scripture,” Fowler said. 

Harris delivered a speech at Fowler’s church on Sunday and attended services that morning. Booker was at the church on Saturday evening, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News, which first reported the visits.

An official from Harris’s campaign told The Hill that the campaign was not aware of Fowler’s past statements. A spokeswoman for the campaign separately emphasized her advocacy on LGBTQ issues, while stating that Harris would continue to visit houses of worship around the country.

“Senator Harris’ support and advocacy for LGBTQ equality has been unwavering throughout her career and will continue when elected President,” a spokeswoman said. “She will continue to visit houses of worship across the country to address congregants about the pressing issues we face as a nation.”

Booker distanced himself from Fowler’s remarks, but his campaign did not respond to a question from The Hill about whether he knew of them before his appearance.

“Cory does not share these views,” Booker’s national press secretary, Sabrina Singh, said in a statement to The Hill. “Throughout his career, Cory has been a consistent fighter for the rights of LGBTQ people and even refused to officiate weddings as Newark mayor until same-sex couples were granted the same rights as everyone. He’ll keep fighting to end discrimination as president.”

LGBTQ groups are largely giving a pass to Harris and Booker over the appearances, though the Human Rights Campaign said it was disappointed by the visits.

“Pastor Fowler’s statements and his history with the LGBTQ community are deeply troubling. Rhetoric matters, and with LGBTQ people under attack across the country, condemning hateful words and hate-fueled violence matters more than ever,” Lucas Acosta, Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary for campaigns, told The Hill.

“While we’re disappointed by their visits to Fowler’s church, Senators Booker, Harris and Sanders have all been strong allies of the LGBTQ community, including earning 100% HRC Congressional Scorecard ratings,” Acosta added.

Fowler’s church has been a stop in past presidential campaigns given Nevada’s prominence in the Democratic race. In 2016, both of the main contenders in Nevada, Sanders and Hillary Clinton, attended the same service at the church

Max Greenwood contributed to this report. 
— Read full report on thehill.com/homenews/campaign/456774-booker-harris-attend-services-with-pastor-who-called-homosexuality-a-sin

Who are the haters? Shameful Fine Gael, shameful Irish media

Something of a small storm is raging in the North Atlantic. A group of Irish young people with a commitment to politics attended a conference in Washington of conservative-leaning students and young graduates. Their senior political colleagues or bosses at home got wind of it and all hell broke loose. Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration – it is the silly season after all. Nevertheless the incident does speak volumes about the worrying lack of freedom in the new modernised Ireland whose praises the world seems to be singing about now. Clearly all is not as it seems.

Ireland is now a dangerous place for any young person who dares even to seem to think that there might be an alternative to liberal ideology. God help them. A friend commented yesterday, “where will any of these kids get a job in Ireland now after this barrage of hostile pc publicity?” Ireland’s graduate job-market is now dominated by corporate American high-tech and big pharma – and we know what they stand for in terms of social ideology. Government is in turn dependent on them for the high income employment which they generate. An independent State? Forget it.

‘MEP Maria Walsh, liked a tweet calling YAF (Young America’s Foundation) “a horrific hate-filled organisation” and demanded a resignation from one of the Irish students in attendance.’

This sounds more like Ireland’s party-in-power, Fine Gael, than any other organisation on the planet.

This incident carries all the traces of the same virus which gave us the Covington High School slander of a few months ago. There is no doubt but that Ireland’s political establishment and its senior partner, Irish mainstream media, have both swallowed Blue America’s ideology hook line and sinker – or is it hook line and stinker?

I’m not putting any money on the Irish Independent accurately reporting this response from the YAF.

Young America’s Foundation (YAF) hosted its 41st annual National Conservative Student Conference (NCSC) July 29 to August 3, 2019, bringing more than 1,300 participants together to learn from leading figures of the Conservative Movement. These students came from 37 states, the District of Columbia, and four countries.

Following the week long conference, several Irish students in attendance were blindsided by attacks from a reporter with the Irish Independent under a headline calling their attendance at NCSC “entirely inappropriate.” The piece goes on to quote attacks against the Irish students and Young America’s Foundation for mainstream conservative stances on today’s issues quoted as “regressive positions,” by the Independent. Even more absurdly, Irish media are now shamefully alleging that YAF’s National Conservative Student Conference has a “commonality” with the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend.

Additionally, other journalists piled on with their own ad hominem attacks and calls for the students to lose their jobs. Among those endorsing the intolerant and baseless claims about Young America’s Foundation is MEP Maria Walsh, who liked a tweet calling YAF “a horrific hate-filled organisation” and demanded a resignation from one of the Irish students in attendance.

The fact that anyone in Ireland is so threatened by a handful of students attending YAF’s flagship conference is a testament to these intolerant individuals’ weakness and insecurity in their own ideas. 

The Irish students at NCSC were attending in their personal capacity—anyone would be honored to hear from and interact with America’s leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, the Honorable John Bolton, Senators Marsha Blackburn, Rick Scott, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, and Ted Cruz plus Mia Love, Lila Rose, Michael Knowles, and Liz Wheeler, among others.

In addition to this year’s distinguished speakers, NCSC has been addressed by the likes of President Ronald Reagan, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman along with a Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader over the past four decades.

“The intolerance of the Left clearly knows no borders. The fact that Members of European Parliament or leaders from Ireland would attack a group of students for striving to broaden their intellectual horizons and learn from some of America’s leading decision makers is pathetic,” remarked YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown. “These students—and all those who took time out of their summer to learn and engage in a true free and open exchange of ideas—ought to be applauded, not demonized or threatened. Furthermore, the attempts by Irish media to sling baseless accusations and politicize a tragedy in the United States is disgusting.”

Young America’s Foundation has a long history of inviting students from around the world to participate in its conferences as YAF advances its mission to reach the rising generation with the principles of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.

Young America’s Foundation looks forward to inviting even more students from Ireland and other countries to attend the next National Conservative Student Conference.

 

Looking for some common sense? Read on…

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Immanuel Kant

Edward Feser, increasingly emerging as one of the sanest and clearest minds of our age, treats us this week to a superb – well, in fact it was last week – review of a new book on the pitfalls left for us in the philosophical landscape by that revered German, Immanuel Kant. Those pitfalls of course continue to be dug deeper and deeper by the many who have fallen into them over the past two centuries – and they just keep digging. Feser and his subject are screaming at them to stop.

Feser observes:

Postmodernist scepticism and triumphalist scientism might seem to have little in common. But as neither doctrine ever tires of reminding us, appearances can be deceiving. Among the things they share is scorn for philosophy’s traditional claim to provide objective knowledge of a kind distinct from empirical science: in short, metaphysics. Yet to justify that scorn would require taking an extra-scientific cognitive standpoint and showing from it either that science alone gets hold of reality – as scientism claims – or that not even science does so – as postmodernism alleges. And such a standpoint is precisely a metaphysical one. Thus, as Étienne Gilson wrote, does philosophy always bury its undertakers.

 

Raymond Tallis tosses a new shovelful of dirt onto them with each addition to his impressive oeuvre. It only helps that he is a polymath, not an academic philosopher. Formally trained in medicine, he is well informed about science, and thus not intimidated by it, as too many academic philosophers are. Not least among his other virtues is the unacademic elegance of his prose.

Feser is sharp and his critique is utterly relevant to our time. He is clearly grateful that a man like Tallis, with his scientific and polymath background, from an atheistic and Darwinian perspective, can see as clearly as he does, the inconsistencies of the postmodern and scientist positions.

He observes how a clear examination of these positions leave us in a situation in which

The notion of a mind-independent reality thus seems to vanish entirely. Common sense thinks of cognition as a window onto the external world. Kant appears to have inadvertently transformed it into a mirror.

Nor is such a view merely a historical relic. Postmodernism is essentially a relativist variation on Kantian epistemology, though that is not a connection Tallis draws in this book. What he does note is that Kant’s idealism has taken on a scientific guise in the physicist John Wheeler’s proposal that quantum mechanics shows the world to depend on the observer. As Tallis argues, the problems that faced Kant’s version remain for this reformulation. If quantum phenomena are among the physical causes that led to us, they can hardly depend on us. Incoherence tarted up in the language of physics is still incoherence.

This review is a long and rewarding one. Out of fairness to the TLS Garvan Hill can only give you these briefest of extracts. If you want a really refreshing vision of a world in which common sense might once again reign, read it all.

 

Book Details

Raymond Tallis

LOGOS

The mystery of how we make sense of the world

256pp. Agenda Publishing. £25 (US $30).

978 1 78821 087 4

Read No we Kant via the TLS app (£), library, or good newsagents – if you hurry.

July 17th – Feast of the Carmeltie Martyrs of Compiegne

Do we think this could not happen in our time? Think again – and not just of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Maoist China. Think Melbourne in the State of Victoria, Australia.

Séamus Sweeney

I have posted the climactic scene of Poulenc’s opera, “Dialogues of the Carmelites”, not once but twice

Today, three days after Bastille Day, is the feast day of the Martyrs of Compiegne. Here is a piece by Stephanie Mann that tells their story:

Their trial, held in a courtroom crowded with other defendants, was quick. Accused of hiding arms for counter-revolutionary forces, the Prioress held up a crucifix, proclaiming it contained the only arms they had ever kept. Authorities had found an altar cloth decorated with a fleur-de-lis, so they were accused of supporting Louis XVI and the monarchy. One of the nuns answered that “If that is a crime, we are all guilty of it; you can never tear out of our hearts the attachment for Louis XVI and his family. Your laws cannot prohibit feeling; they cannot extend their empire to the affections of the soul; God alone…

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Journalism today – the best of times, the worst of times

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You might say, paraphrasing Dickens, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times.

Freedom of expression, the freedom to speak your mind and let your voice be heard is one of the great goods in the firmament of good things available to the human race. We have never had greater potential to enjoy this freedom – airwaves open, the facility which social media platforms gives us. There is nothing stopping anyone who wants to put his or her thoughts out there for public consumption if they have the flare and inclination to do so. Well, almost nothing.

And yet, something terrible has gone wrong. Abuse of that most precious of treasures given to mankind, truth itself, is one thing. But the abuse of each other through that freedom is even worse. We are doing untold damage to the very fabric of culture and our civilization. Citizen journalism liberates us. It also can and does enslave us to our own viciousness.

Journalism is a rather inexact term. Looked at in its simplest historical manifestation, it is a service to society, a very necessary one. Try this definition: it is a service providing a daily report to a population on events of interest, and/or consequence, going on around them, but about which, without that reporting, they would know little or nothing.

Under that umbrella a huge variety of activity goes on. Controversy or some other elemental thing – humour, love, anger – has to be in the daily mix which draws us to read, listen to or watch news and commentary on news. There is nothing wrong with that. Probably the first news story ever printed was objected to by someone somewhere. Isn’t one of the definitions of news “that which somebody, somewhere, wants to suppress”? These elemental things are part of the life-blood of journalism.

Broadly there are two divisions. There is straight news reporting of the facts and there is commentary on those facts and their supposed implications.

All of this activity, until recently, was subject to what we knew as editorial scrutiny. Such scrutiny followed principles and there were standards which justice demanded and charity suggested, and which society generally expected.

From the very start, the provision of this service, like many others offered to society, operated in a marketplace and market forces influenced the form and content in response to the cultural character and interests of targeted readerships. That’s how we got the broadsheets, the tabloids, or as some would say, the “quality” press and the “gutter” press. For the most part, the partnership worked well.

But that model now looks shattered. It is almost as though the French Revolution has eventually upturned the fourth estate as it had done to the first, second and third estates in 1789. The hegemony of what we call “legacy” media is now a diminished thing. The media marketplace is in turmoil and a kind of anarchy is now let loose upon the world in the shape of the internet and the wild untamed flood of information, misinformation, and unrestrained personal abuse it has unleashed. The instruments for communication now at our disposal are fast becoming weapons of destruction. Watch a few episodes of Charlie Brooker’s  Black Mirror and you will at the very least feel a little uneasy.

But that is not our only problem. Even if we managed to use well the freedom which our advanced technology gives us, we still have another issue to face. What else has happened that is threatening our well-being? It is that the service journalism should be offering us has collapsed into partisan politics. How and why did this happen?

American commentator and academic, Victor Davis Hanson, in an American context, says:

There still exists a physical media in the sense of airing current events. But it is not journalism as we once understood the disinterested reporting of the news. Journalism is now dead. The media lives on.

Reporters today believe that their coverage serves higher agendas of social justice, identity politics, “equality” and diversity. To the degree a news account is expanded or ignored, praised or blasted, depends on its supposed utility to the effort to fundamentally transform the country into something unlike its founding.

To some degree what has happened, and what is corrosive, is that the polarisation which is making our political life so worrying, is also doing the same for our journalism. In a Marxist sense everything has now become political. Everything is filtered through a political spectrum and must be seen to be correct by the only measure for correctness which is acceptable, political correctness. It is a new totalitarianism.

Actors are no longer artists, they are politicians. Celebrities are no longer happy to be celebrated for what they do. They are campaigners in some political cause. Business corporations don’t just do business anymore. They legitimately make their voices heard in economic matters but that is not enough, they insist on exercising real power in determining social policies. Academia is now, for the most part, irredeemably Marxist in its thinking. Journalism is mired in the same ideology. All this is a gross abuse of power and influence. There is no important issue in the politics of our time about which big money and big egos will not now weigh in with their considerable power to have their say – and in many cases subvert the democratically expressed will of the people. They do this openly and shamelessly as though it were their right. Who knows what they do behind closed doors? Journalists, equally shamelessly, collude with all this.

These are all elites with power, unelected, but using that power to effect social change regardless of the will of the people. This is profoundly and worryingly undemocratic. Those outside these Gnostic elites are the new plebs, now being denigrated as populists, the enemies of progress. Elitists view the “ordinary” people as, well, Hilary Clinton said it all, “deplorables”. Ordinary people do not know, cannot know of themselves, what is good for them, what is right or what is wrong. They need to be looked after by those who really know what true progress is.

The fears of these elites are like the fears of the patricians of ancient Rome in the face of the demands of the plebeians, or the Gnostics of the early Christian era for whom simple faith was not sufficient; their special exclusive knowledge was necessary for salvation. The fears of these elites are like the fears of those who opposed universal male franchise in the 19th century, or those who opposed the vote for women in the early twentieth. Now we have them again. Each age seems to have to deal with this virus.

Journalists and journalism should stand apart from these elites, critiquing their rationale – or lack of rationale, for that lack is at the heart of the problem. Roland Barthes, in a different context, wrote of the dangers of received wisdom being accepted uncritically and being built into the foundations of our culture and our civilization: “If we collect all such knowledge, all such vulgarisms, we create a monster, and this monster is ideology.”

Series three of Stranger Things premiers this month. It is a fable which may have more to say about this monster than we think. The purity and innocence of the young heroines and heroes of this fable confront the monstrosity threatening Hawkins, Indiana. When journalism as a profession restores its integrity and its commitment to its historic mission, it may do the same.

 

Storm in the ancient city of Kilkenny

kilkenny-castle

My weekly newsletter from Screenit.com this week told me that among the crop of new movies just released is one entitled The Dead Don’t Die. In its very brief snapshot of what the film is about it says: “Comedy/Horror: Residents of a small town must contend with a zombie outbreak.” My God, I said to myself, “That was quick. They’ve already made a movie about Friar Tom Ford’s shocking sermon to the people of Kilkenny.” Well, sorry. I know Kilkenny is not a small town. It is one of Ireland’s oldest and most beautiful cities, for a short time the seat of its parliament.

Closer examination of the new release of course assured me that this movie was not about Friar Tom, or the remarks he made about the state of our bodies after the death of grace in our souls, when afflicted by that sin which we appropriately call “mortal”. You probably have some hazy recollection of what all Christians once learned in their catechisms. The people who walked out of Fr. Tom’s church in disgust at his remarks may have forgotten that.

It struck me as a bit strange to recall that Dolores Riordan and the Cranberries had a worldwide hit a few decades ago when they said exactly the same thing about another kind of sinful activity indulged in and causing the mayhem that all sin causes in any country. Zombies was what they called those who surrendered the life of their souls to Irish Republican Army. Perhaps had Friar Tom set his words to music he might have been more effective in getting his point across. As it is he now just has everyone falling over backwards in outrage and his friends and superiors apologizing for him. He included a range of what Catholic moral teaching describes as objectively sinful behavior. One feels, of course, that his real sin was to include gay activity among these.

The gay thing is, of course, impossible to talk about now – unless you are praising the lifestyle to the skies. What is it anyway? I once wrote something by way of explanation of the Catholic Church’s teaching that it did not condemn as sinful the condition of being gay in one’s sexual orientation. A friend of mine contradicted me, explaining that in contemporary usage – I’m not an expert in the area – “being gay” was in fact a description of one who was homo-sexually active. What the Catholic Church holds, he explained to me is that homosexual orientation is not in any way sinful, so much so that it is perfectly compatible with a virtuoso and sanctified life – which was the point I was trying to make. He thought I was not being helpful by confusing the two.

Friar Ford, as he admitted himself, is something of a fan of the zombie movie genre. To his cost, he let his enthusiasm for the metaphor he saw in them go just a little bit too far. But really, was it that shocking. Literary souls like using metaphors to explain their ideas. He saw it as a way of bringing home to us all the grossness and horror of that sin which we call “mortal”, that sin which kills the life our soul. Christ called some of those of his own time who were willfully in a similar state, “whited sepulchers” – which as an image is not far from zombie. Of course his hearers were offended and outraged also. Indeed, they ended up crucifying him for his offensiveness.

There is now much ado about the latest iteration of Catholic teaching on the gender and identity issue. It clearly explains the traditional Catholic view that men and women are created with fixed gender and sexual roles. Some are complaining that it does not address the work of biologists and psychologists who grapple with the exceptional cases which give rise to confusion of identity. The Church is not a Scientific Institute. It is a moral teacher and has to offer moral guidance to every soul on the planet. It is aware of and respects the responsible work being done by scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists in this field. Indeed it uses their findings to clarify its own moral teaching as faith and reason demands. However, it is the bizarre ramblings of the LGBT theorists that have made it necessary to offer this statement of moral teaching to poor bewildered humanity at this time.

At the root of all the confusion, of course is the poison inflicted on society and our civilization by the neo-Marxist definitions of our nature which spawned the sexual revolution. Sexual sin no longer exists. Pharmaceutical development and technological development – although they have brought great goods to mankind have combined together to poison our vision of what it is to be truly human. Together they have led us to a place where sexual abuse, promiscuity, abortion, pornography are corrupting individual human beings in their millions. As a consequence they are corrupting our society by destroying the family. That dual corruption, unless it is arrested, will end in utter chaos. If a bit of outrage in a Kilkenny Friary helps bring us back to our sense of what is really right and wrong, I can live with a bit of outrage.

More on the shifting sands of the media world

If readers pay for your news, you’re one of the lucky ones

By Mathew Ingram

Columbia Journalism Review

Every year, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which is based at Oxford University in the UK, comes out with its Digital News Report, a survey of global trends and attitudes towards online news. Depending on your position in the media industry, it can be either good news or bad news. According to the latest edition, which came out Wednesday morning, if you’re a prosperous digital giant with a well-established subscription program, then you are probably in great shape, thanks to the growth of digital and mobile consumption of the news. If you’re a small publisher that still relies predominantly on print and your subscription plan still isn’t lucrative, however, the report is probably going to cause nightmares. As Facebook and Google continue to vacuum up the lion’s share of digital advertising around the globe, the landscape is looking increasingly barren for any publisher that isn’t already a market leader. (Google helps fund the Reuters report.)

One of the big headlines from the study is that, despite the efforts of news publishers to pivot away from advertising revenue and focus more on subscriptions and membership plans, there has only been a tiny increase in the number of people who pay for online news in any form in the past year, and the bulk of what little growth did occur came primarily in Nordic countries like Norway and Sweden. In the US, the so-called “Trump bump,” which led many news consumers to sign up for subscriptions to newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post, seems to have slowed into a virtual flat line. The number of people who paid for news in the US jumped sharply in 2017, the Reuters report says, but it currently remains relatively “stable” (i.e. it isn’t growing) at 16 percent of the population.

On a related note, the study found that even in countries where fairly large numbers of news consumers pay for their news, the vast majority of those consumers only have a single subscription. As the report points out, this phenomenon—which turns subscription revenue into a scarce resource that virtually every other news outlet is also fighting for—suggests that there is a “winner take all” aspect to online news. That might benefit the Times or the Post, or newspapers like The Guardian in the UK, but as those outlets grow stronger, their smaller competitors could find it even more difficult to sign up new subscribers, no matter how good their coverage is. Some media analysts believe there is a distinct possibility that this could create a polarized market, where the big get bigger and the small get smaller, and those in the middle either dramatically change their models or die out.

The Reuters study also suggests that news publishers aren’t just competing with other news outlets for subscribers. As more and more consumers—particularly younger ones, the kind the news industry is most interested in attracting—are looking to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify to serve their entertainment needs, there is a risk that even in markets where people don’t mind paying for news, a form of “subscription fatigue” may be developing. In this environment, “publishers may struggle to substantially increase the market for high-priced single-title subscriptions,” the Reuters report says. And publishers who are doing everything they can to sign up as many readers as possible could be exacerbating this problem by hitting consumers with paywalls more frequently. Reuters says that, in the US, about half of those surveyed said they now hit a pay barrier at least once a week.

If you’re desperate for a little good news, the study found that while trust in the news in general is down 2 percentage points to 42 percent across all countries, and less than half of those surveyed said they trust the news sources they use regularly, there are signs that these low levels of trust are helping move people towards more reputable sources of news. Across all of the countries surveyed, more than 25 percent said that they have started relying on more reputable sources, and in the US about 40 percent of those surveyed said they were doing the same (The study says the interpretation of “reputable” was left to respondents to determine.) How this particular statistic is likely to affect your media business depends on whether you are one of the reputable sources people are heading towards, or one of the not-so-reputable sources that readers are busy heading away from.

Here’s more on the state of digital news:

• Print’s long decline: The Reuters report isn’t the only significant survey of digital media trends to come out this week. Mary Meeker is a veteran technology analyst who recently left the VC fund Kleiner Perkins to start her own fund, and she releases a 300-plus page overview of the internet market every year that companies and investors routinely scan for details. Nieman Lab founder Josh Benton scans the Meeker report every year for data on the state of print advertising, and every year the data gets worse.

• Active avoiders: Damian Radcliffe of the site What’s New In Publishing has picked out what he believes are the five essential charts from the Reuters media report that publishers need to pay attention to, including the fact that almost a third of those surveyed for the report say that they “actively avoid the news.” That’s up by 3 percentage points from when Reuters asked the same question last year. How can publishers convince more readers to subscribe to their sites if a significant proportion are no longer interested in news at all?

• Congress cares: The backdrop to the Reuters study is, of course, the dominance of digital giants like Google and Facebook, which Congress is currently holding hearings into, with a view towards possible antitrust action against either one or both. During Tuesday’s hearings, the media got a shout out from several congressmen, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman David Cicilline, who asked: “If online news publishers can’t survive, then who can?”

• The youngs: Not everyone was depressed by the Reuters study. Mark Little, a former Irish TV Correspondent who founded the social-media verification service Storyful and now has a news curation startup called Kinzen, says there are encouraging signs that younger news consumers are more interested in reputable sources, share less fake news and are more interested in paying for news than older consumers.