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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 13, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    The Best and the Worst

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    There is an item on the news that illustrates the best and worst of our society. Following an arson attack on the home of an 87-year-old woman in Cork, the victim is in hospital, as are two gardaí who rescued her from the blaze.

    One the one hand, we have the criminal depravity of those who set fire to the house in the middle of a cold winter’s night and, on the other, the sheer selfless heroism of the two police officers who rescued this elderly lady.

    Not only was this firebrand action depraved but it was also marked by sheer stupidity, since we are told the attackers picked the wrong house!

    The disintegration of our society is proceeding almost unnoticed as we focus most of our attention on the economy.

    It’s not a question of “hang ‘em and flog ‘em”: the problem goes much deeper than that and right-wing Pavlovian  lorranorder responses are not the answer. Having said that, it is undoubtedly necessary to catch the arsonist(s) and put him/her/them in a place where they can do no more damage to their fellow-human beings.

    • Adam says:

      Leave out the hyperbole. Our society is not “disintegrating” by any standard.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Deaglán.
      A heinous act indeed and in my opinion the gardaí don’t get enough credit and respect from people in society for the job they do every day. That respect not subservience mind, is really important if we are to maintain a civic non-armed police force.
      Perhaps off-topic but I would think it would be in the long term interest of the average member of the gardaí not to mention the wider public to have a strong independent ombudsman and complaints mechanism similar to what’s in place in the north to maintain that civic respect

      Back to topic, I do wonder if things are really that much worse today than in the past?
      “The disintegration of our society is proceeding almost unnoticed as we focus most of our attention on the economy”
      What’s more likely is that over time the lack of investment in sociality disadvantaged areas and communities mean that this kind of thing will continue to happen in the next generation. You have to get them young otherwise it’s just damage limitation.

    • robespierre says:

      My wife teaches in a Deis 1 primary school (i.e. most disadvantaged). She is firmly of the view that their paths are more or less already set by the time they hit junior infants or even early start (small scheme in 16 schools focused on 3 yr. olds).

      They can already pick-out the jailbirds at that age and it is not always because their parents are junkies, prostitutes or criminals. Welfare culture, lack of role models, isolation, zero-sum situations and a daily example of the “prisoner’s dilemma” all feed into the festering cycle of a life sentence in sink estates.

      Less than 2% of those born into welfare dependent families with drug abuse or other self-harming behaviour manage to break out of the cycle (UN HDP report 2007).

    • Jessie says:

      “The disintegration of our society is proceeding almost unnoticed as we focus most of our attention on the economy”

      Or so the media in Ireland and rte do….

      I recall watching a Prime Time investigates recently that once again, returned for more investigation on South Hill and Moyross in Limerick. In comparison to some of the issues there, and indeed, some other crimes that hardly met the eye of the journalist, this is a more light hearted, although serious crime.

      Trawl through some of the local sections in Boards.ie and you will find some issues of anti-social behaviour discussed in threads, one I recall from Galway where residents in certain areas of the city, predominately elderly, were terrorised by “drunk students” who thought it was altogether great craic to try and kick in the door and vandalise people’s homes in the dead of night, which was caught on camera.

      If you want to know a Hero, then look to fire fighters who as part of every day life, risk their lives, look to members of the Gardai and especially in the run up and including Halloween Night.

      Google Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Assange is doing the job of what you overpaid journalists are not doing…. while you all sit at your cosy laptops blogging, he’s doing YOUR WORK. Manning is currently in military prison in regards to the leaking a military video that shows the murders of two Reuters journalists and 2 children by the US Military, for the simple reason he got this video depicting a crime out on Wikileaks. http://www.collateralmurder.com/
      While you’re there, Google Ray McGovern or alternatively, watch this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ1TOtApOqY in him defending Julian Assange. It should be noted that I recently read that Sarah Palin, upon the release of cables, decided that Assange should be executed (I believe it was in the Guardian), yet you won’t find that opinion being expressed on her facebook, myspace, twitter and official websites.

      Tell me now, who is a hero? Tell me now, who are the best and worst?

    • Jessie says:

      IN regards to my last comment, which I imagine will be censored, like RTE does with all my comments, then I’d like to share something that RTE and all the media in Ireland will not publish and not even publish when Time come out with the results on Wednesday…


      Assange is discussed to a point that is relevant to Ireland but not the wider picture.

      specifically in response to “The disintegration of our society is proceeding almost unnoticed as we focus most of our attention on the economy”

      This is your answer – the attention given to media coverage from varying angles in favour of what we already know about the economy so as to blinker the people from what IS actually happening around the world. As long as every media jumps on the bandwagon, well, we may as well just impose restrictions in “V for Vendetta”. All I hear and read about in Irish media is anything and everything that related to making us scared, spreading fear and looking over our shoulder at the person beside us to see how corrupt they are. Did they forget to mention that Zuckerman, the founder of Facebook of one of the billionaires that is pledging his fortune for better causes? No, instead we hear about X factor.
      Anything that blinkers us from the real truth of what is happening, anything that keeps us from hearing the real news stories from journalists out there who are investigating but are silenced, just as I am sure that this comment will not be published.

      I for one, am very very tired of the amount of censorship, the lack of proper and accurate news, the doctoring of news a la Fox Media; I’m tired of thinking how I am supposed to live in a democracy, but given the way the media works even in Ireland, I may as well be living in China. I am tired of the corruption at the top in any and every organisation, I am tired of seeing print be wasted on social commentary that would be more worthy of real stories, stories of those who literally risk life and limb in some parts of the world to even communicate. Do not forget that many, many journalists died to let the truth be know, died to protect truth in favour of exposing the corrupt and making them face justice.

      Overall I am tired of the sweep it under the carpet cartel Ireland in which I am living, no, existing in, for how can I live, really live, knowing that every time I see a paper, everytime I hear the news, more and more stories appear to spread fear, to make me feel weak, to make me feel beaten down, unemployed, no prospects, no hope, but to watch the car crash unfold on the news of yet again, another organisation, another agency, another bank, politician, another person that faith and trust was given for it to be stolen from me and traded in for a pack of blatant lies? How can I live with that everyday? Only to find out that they will NEVER stand trial, the justice system will let them off scot free, which makes me ask myself, how corrupt are all the judges, how far up and deep does that go? How many must be paid off with criminal gangs for criminals to be let off so lightly?

      I’m only 29 and in my short life, I have seen too much corruption that I ask myself, am I alone in being honest?

    • Randy Cecil says:

      And so called journalists who repeat every rehashed rumor that brands patriots as criminals while leaving the banksters and speculators alone for years are also to blame

    • Paul says:

      I’m not following you Randy can you elaborate?

    • barbera says:

      Meanwhile while we are waiting for an alternative to “right-wing Pavlovian lorranorder”, it is my opinion that those heinous crimes committed against the elderly, in particular, should elicit the most exceedingly harsh response by the authorities. For example, thugs who attack and harm defenceless elderly people should be put in stocks and publicly flogged with a cat-o-nine-tails and which should be aired on all the national news programmes – after which these criminals can then undergo whatever long drawn out therapy might be proscribed.
      end of

    • Jessie: For goodness’ sake, lighten up. It is sad to see a young person of 29 taking such a depressing and pessimistic view of things. The present situation is bad but it can’t be compared to the Famine or the War of Independence, the “Emergency” or the Hungry Fifties. You have your whole life in front of you and should try to get out and enjoy it. I am concered about the state of society here but would be appalled to think I had any role in valildating your despairing perspecting. Things ain’t that bad!

    • adam says:

      Deaglán, you wrote: “The disintegration of our society is proceeding almost unnoticed as we focus most of our attention on the economy”

      Sounds like you’re validating a despairing perspective to me.

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