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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 7, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    Hunger

    Fiona McCann

    Yes, I have seen Steve McQueen’s film, but this is not a review because what I really want to write about is this: David Cox’s ignorant, vituperative rant against the film on the Guardian’s Film blog. His post is so offensive it’s hard to know where to start, but I’ll give it a lash anyway.

    “Far from being shocked at seeing the inmates roughed up a bit, I found myself wishing they’d been properly tortured, preferably savagely, imaginatively and continuously.” Er, let’s assume he’s just being provocative here, because the alternative – that he’s some kind of torture voyeur that would be happy snapping alongside the rest at Abu Ghraib – is a little hard to stomach. Because, Mr Cox, we’ve been through this. Those who perpetrate torture in the employ of the state are reviled and repudiated when their actions come to light. It’s banality-of-evil, stuff, if you want to look into it. Once you brush up on those “administrative conditions” in the North that the irritating Irish were so chafing against; the political aims of the IRA; and  — this one’s important — how not to make your clinical sadism clearly apparent in copy, you should go ahead and make that film you want to make, the torture-porn epic celebrating Britain’s role in the Troubles. Maybe you can play Captain John Bull and your character can mete out some ‘heroic’ treatment of the Irish. A fine vicious Celtic romance, to be sure.

    • Del says:

      Dealga,

      I’m certainly no provo but there were elements of Cox’s blog I thought crass and needless.

      From an accuracy point of view I also thought his fundamnetal point is wrong.

      In moaning about the British film industry’s treatment of Republicans in the Troubles he points out one film – the Wind That Shakes the Barley – which doesn’t even cover the Troubles, and another, much more seriously, Bloody Sunday. Now as the very root of the escalation of the Troubles, Bloody Sunday is surely a touchstone subject for filmmakers dealing with the Troubles. Along those lines, this isn’t a film “glorifying” hardline Republicans, but merely innocent nationalists getting shot.

    • Del says:

      @ Clom,

      just read both Julie Burchill’s and Rod Liddle’s vindictive blogs.

      To be fair, I’ve probably often thought similar things about Ireland myself (!) but the views they possess are so out of date and just so nasty in a very passe way.

      Eamon Dunphy probably said it best about Rod Liddle! As for Burchill, well… adjectives don’t do her horridness proper justice

    • Ronan says:

      @Jimmy Sands

      You have accused me of defending torturers on this thread. That’s pretty strong stuff pal.

      If you come back to me with a bit of evidence to support it, I’d be happy to delve into the reasons why I support torture. ?????????

      As for the Cox blog, shouldn’t you avoid pointing people in the direction of your annihilation? I picked my way through the carnage, and what did I find.

      “@David,

      You miss the point. We are the Most Oppressed People Ever (MOPE) and your crime was failing to acknowledge this.”

      Your servile crawling up the backside of Cox portrays you desperation to show solidarity with him and to approval of his article.

      You go to great lengths to argue that he was only expressing an emotional response, implying that, for Cox and his friend Jimmy Sands, real torture in the real world is beyond the Pale entirely.

      Then, as is your wont, you completely undermine your argument by saying

      “Let me put it in terms you may understand. Had someone captured, for example, Pinochet and worked him over slowly with a blunt instrument, I can’t imagine it would have caused me any great distress. I would however accept that such treatment would be morally unacceptable. Can you grasp this point?”

      Although torture is absolutely off-limits and immoral, except in your fantasies, you wouldn’t actually be bothered by it if it happened to people of your choice.

      Go figure.

    • Alan says:

      Just read the Liddle and Burchill pieces.

      I actually feel sorry for Burchill, When you can write the name of everybody that you don’t hate, on the back of a postage stamp, you must have a miserable life. Look on the brightside, we only have to read her, she has to be her!

      I found Liddle laughing at the Irish going out on penalties to be hilarious. If he had done research he would have seen that both of the men who scored in the penalty shoot-out were born in Ireland, and you can easily guess which country all the lads who missed were born in!

      It must be something in the air.

    • Ronan says:

      @Jimmy Sands

      On a related point. Now that you’ve advised me to visit your mediocre offerings (I’m being charitable) at the Guardian, I’ve couldn’t help noticing that someone asked, in light of your hilarious MOPE comment, if you could identify a nation in western Europe the people of which had endured deeper and more prolongued oppression than the Irish.

      Your response there was

      “Only the terminally self-pitying would have any difficulty doing so.”

      Your tormentor’s come-back was along the lines of ‘if it’s so easy, then why haven’t you provided an example?’.

      Funnily enough, you ignored the question entirely.

    • Ronan says:

      @Jimmy Sands

      Another gem of yours from the Guardian blog

      “As an Irishman I’d like to know where to complain about posters on here making us look whiney and humourless”

      I know you’re above whining, and your wit is enviable, but this shows how keen you are to stand alongside Cox over his article, which actually was “whiney and humourless” as well as deliberately provocative (a lovely oul’ bit o’ the provo-baiting, sez you).

      Were you at all aware of the number of English posters who were being “whiney and humourless” in defence of the Irish? They weren’t targeted by their compatriots for merely taking part in the discussion.

      That may have had something to do with there being millions of the world’s soundest, fairest and most objective people over there (have you lived there, I wonder).

      It’s little wonder that Hunger was made by an Englishman, because any Irish film-maker would have been demonised as a fascist provo-sympathiser by the likes of you and your philosophical bedfellows over in the Sindo.

    • Alan says:

      @ Ronan

      Nice work, good sir. My guess is that Jimmy didn’t answer the question because he is “terminally self-pitying”.

      If you look a little more you will find many more questions that the bold Jimmy refused to answer. In fact, you will find more in the same series of posts. You might notice the part where he says:

      “Sands was a suspect in two sectarian murders at the time of his imprisonment”

      When challenged on this assertion by the user ‘onlyasking’:

      “Q1. Were you a member of RUC special branch in the 70s?

      Q2. If not, how did you come by that information.”

      Jimmy’s fact based response was, now wait for it, yes, here comes the groundbreaking news:

      “I forget the source.”

      It seems that facts are an unnecessary burden on young master James.

    • Philinthe says:

      Dublin 4 intelligentsia who played footsie with the IRA? You really never heard of that?

      Ronan and Alan, your fury at Cox would be more convincing if you showed equal horror at the crimes committed by the IRA in the name of Ireland.

      “You simply can’t accept that there are informed people who wish to move away from the tired clichés of the Thatcher era in order to analyse the recent history of British/ Irish affairs without the distorting effects of received wisdom.”

      I suppose you allude to Thatcher’s tired cliché that murder is murder. Analyse all you want — there is lots of dirt on every side — and some of the dirt is in the armchairs of the Republic where cute-hoor Irish citizens entertained sympathy for the vile activities of a terrorist gang.

    • Philinthe says:

      “Deeper and more prolonged oppression” — and this tosh is supposed to whitewash IRA brutality, I suppose.

    • Philinthe says:

      “Although torture is absolutely off-limits and immoral, except in your fantasies, you wouldn’t actually be bothered by it if it happened to people of your choice.”

      Good, at least you agree that torture is off-limits. It is well known that the IRA systematically tortured informers.

    • Ronan says:

      @Alan,

      Yeah, I was also struck by Jimmy’s insider’s knowledge and his inability to remember the source.

      Jimmy was not alone in his failure to stand over each of his assertions. There were others.

      A certain DJBM, another mature Irishman and a “trained historian”, who absolved Britain of any responsibility for the famine (purely a natural disaster) and lauded the Crown’s attempts to feed the hungry. There was also a CaptSensible who was nauseatinginly arrogant and impressively evasive at once.

      These guys were bound together by (a) a desire to bait those who questioned the Guardian’s wisdom in printing Cox’s piece, (b) the need to demonise, in extravagant terms, any catholic in NI who felt compelled to become involved in the violence in the early 70s (Sands = Karadzic), (c) a penchant for trotting out half-baked analyses, and (d) a fleetness of foot when evading the forensic shredding of their arguments.

    • Ronan says:

      @Jimmy Sands

      In your little message of support to the lovely young David Cox on the Guardian site, you mockingly stated that “only Ronan Bennett should be allowed to write about us”.

      If you have any interest in the history of our nearest neighbour, apart from its benevolent role here (if you do I hope you’re more objective than in your reading of our own history), I’d recommend a look at Bennett’s excellent piece in the Guardian on The Devil’s Whore, a new C4 drama series set during the English Revolution.

      There can be no doubt that Bennett’s contributions are on a different plane to those of Cox’s, providing illumination instead of fulmination.

      I wonder if the idea of savage torture for the likes of Bennett, himself a former Irish prisoner of HMG in NI, would be of satisfaction to your friend.

      I’d also recommend Havoc in it’s Third Year by Bennett. I realise that he’s probably beyond the Pale in that he doesn’t engage in the demonisation of his community which is the hallmark of a moral and mature Irishman like yourself.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinthe

      “Dublin 4 intelligentsia who played footsie with the IRA? You really never heard of that?”

      There’s a world of stuff that I’ve heard of, like Iraq’s vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, the British Army’s role as impartial peacekeepers in NI, and politicians who received personal money from businessmen for no return.

      Do you believe everything you hear? Seeing as you brought up the subject of “the Dublin-4 game of coddling terrorists”, I merely asked for some evidence of this phenomenon, and you came back with “You really never heard of that?”

      Where did you “hear of that”? Brendan O’Connor’s weekly diatribe in the Sindo? I don’t base my views on the unsupported assertions of professional opinionists. Do you?

    • Jimmy Sands says:

      @Ronan

      Coincidentally I ‘ve just finished reading Bennett’s piece on the Devil’s Whore. I agree it’s very good.

      Ironaically this thread reminds me of a vituperative letter written to the IT some years ago to protest against RTEs decision to show the Richard Burton Cromwell biopic on the grounds that the film portrayed him in a positive light.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinthe

      “Ronan and Alan, your fury at Cox would be more convincing if you showed equal horror at the crimes committed by the IRA in the name of Ireland.”

      On the day that Adams and McGuinness come out with something along the lines of “we found ourselves wishing that captured British soldiers had been tortured savagely, continuously and imaginatively” I can assure you I’ll be there amongst the horde (including your good self of course) callling for them to be chucked out of the political environment.

      It does take two to tango, and while I have no problem condemning the IRA’s killing of innocent civilians, and in light of my genuine delight that no more people, be they policemen, republicans, uninvolved civilians or anybody else are shot to death in front of their children, I have yet to see a word in print from you, JSands or any of the other Cox apologists aportioning blame fairly on the basis of who killed who, why, and how, in NI.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinthe

      “I suppose you allude to Thatcher’s tired cliché that murder is murder. Analyse all you want — there is lots of dirt on every side — and some of the dirt is in the armchairs of the Republic where cute-hoor Irish citizens entertained sympathy for the vile activities of a terrorist gang.”

      So much of what you write is up there to be taken down, thanks.

      Indeed, Thatcher’s “murder is murder” is an empty cliché, seeing as British troops and RUC members could shoot with total impunity(catholic) children outside their homes and (catholic) mothers carrying home the shopping. 11% of those shot dead by British troops were children, yet not a single soldier was held to account. So clearly murder is not murder when committed by the forces of the crown. Am I wrong?

      “there is lots of dirt on every side”

      “Dirt” you say, what about blood? You don’t want to say “blood on every side”, because you’d then be undermining your friend Cox’s wish that the British role in the conflict be “celebrated” by British film-makers.

      Why celebrate those who have blood on their hands?

      Hunger certainly doesn’t celebrate anyone, but what pisses you guys off is that neither does it demonise anyone, and that just does not compute in your simplistic world of good v evil.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinthe

      Just where does the cute-hoor mentality, with its inherent looking after of no.1, overlap with the men who died on hunger-strike?

      Oh yeah, another tired old cliché of the Thatcher era,

      “the vile activities of a terrorist gang.”

      How consoling, all the trouble being caused by a mere “terrorist gang”. Just what is it about the catholics of NI that makes them vote for representatives of a “gang”? Are they uniquely debased? Or is the truth a little bit too complex and multi-layered for schoolyard analysis?

      20,000 people, the majority of them republicans, were imprisoned during the conflict. The “gang” you allude to confronted SAS units, the Paras, the Royal Marines etc on many occasions.

      I recommend that you read Toby Harendon’s “Bandit Country”. This book, by a Daily Telegraph reporter unlikely to be an IRA sympathiser, will not make you like the IRA, but it will remove any notion you have that the British Army, the RUC, Special Branch, MI5, the UVF, UFF, LVF etc were at war with a “gang”.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinthe

      “at least you agree that torture is off-limits. It is well known that the IRA systematically tortured informers.”

      It’s interesting that the one unit of the IRA to which you can pin systematic torture is the very one, the Nutting Squad, which was under the control of British intelligence through their man Stakeknife.

      Neat, eh?

      As for torture-murders in NI, we had the Shankill Butchers, who kidnapped catholics, sometimes taking them to pubs on the Shankill for the amusement of the clientele before taking them to be tortured “SAVAGELY, CONTINUOUSLY AND IMAGINITIVELY to death.

      Ring any bells mate?

      We had the case, after the final IRA ceasefire, of a 16 year old schoolboy by the name of Morgan who was abducted by Billy Wright’s men, tortured SAVAGELY, beaten to death and dumped in a cesspool. That’s right, Billy Wright, the guy Willie McCrea shared a platform with, the REV Willie McCrea MP, enemy of the “vile terrorist gangs”.

      A bit of “dirt” on their hands, right?

    • dealga says:

      Ronan

      “A British nationalist has suggested that the savage and continuous torture of Irish prisoners of HMG, on the island of Ireland, is an acceptable aspiration. And you are not one bit offended”

      Nope, because (get this) I don’t actually think he’s serious.

      “… your support for his views represents hypocrisy of the highest order.”

      Meh. Read this bit slowly: I don’t care who Cox is, what his views are, or anything. My sole interest in the original post and all the comments since on this blog is my genuine surprise (more fool me) that people in this country still have kittens whenever some random non-entity Brit shoots his mouth off.

      If he was a decision maker or a person of significant influence then maybe I could care. Maybe. But he isn’t, so I don’t.

      Now I’m not sure how that makes me a hypocrite. Nonetheless, given that you have assessed me to be not only a hypocrite but a ‘hypocrite of the highest order’, I imagine you must be some kind of expert in the field.

    • Alan says:

      @ Philinthe

      “Ronan and Alan, your fury at Cox would be more convincing if you showed equal horror at the crimes committed by the IRA in the name of Ireland.”

      Given your rather strange attempt to redefine the meaning of Dublin 4, I doubt you could be convinced of anything that does not fit into your narrow mind.

      By the way, Dublin 4 is a post code, not a mail address, and it most certainly is not suitable as a metaphor.

      Also if you can grasp the point, the blog is about David Cox’s piece and not the history of the IRA. However you might not get that, just as your hero, Cox, could not grasp that the movie was about the Hunger Strike and not about the history of the Troubles, or that The wind that Shakes the Barley is not about the Troubles.

      Many people felt offended as they felt the article labeled all Irish as terrorists. Now, think about it, if people are offended at being compared to a terrorist, do you really think that is because they support terrorism? For further evidence, 94.39% of those who voted in the referendum, voted to give up Ireland’s claim to the 6 counties (source:BBC), and to allow democracy to dictate NI’s future. Now, that is clearly not supporting an armed struggle. Or perhaps in your mind it is.

      Condemning David Cox’s support for torture is not the same thing as condoning the IRA. Stop being so desperate to label everybody you disagree with as a sympathiser.

      This talent you have for manipulating peoples words is something special. Never mind The National Enquirer, you clearly have a future in English journalism.

    • Philinthe says:

      “any catholic in NI who felt compelled to become involved in the violence in the early 70s”

      Violence that included planting bombs in pubs and various other atrocities. This edulcorative language is what I call playing footsie.

    • Ronan says:

      @dealga

      You previously quoted the eminent Charlie Brooker as follows on the need to gratuitouslly offend people who take offence:

      “Combined, they’re the very worst people on the planet – 20 times worse than child molesters, and I say that not because it’s true (it isn’t), but because it’ll upset them unnecessarily, and these readers deserve to be upset unnecessarily, morning, noon and night, every sodding day, for the rest of their wheedling lives.”

      Dead right. Seriously – get over yourselves.”

      Did I offend thee? Get over it.

      “Read this bit slowly: I don’t care who Cox is, what his views are, or anything. My sole interest in the original post and all the comments since on this blog is my genuine surprise (more fool me) that people in this country still have kittens whenever some random non-entity Brit shoots his mouth off.”

      It’s interesting that a journalist who has written for practically every UK broadsheet and New Statesman and who has produced major current affairs programmes across the range of independent television channels is a now merely “random non-entity Brit”. I suppose Charlie Brooker is worthy of comment, but not Cox?

      Sorry, Joe Bloggs is a random non-entity Brit. This guy writes for the Guardian which has long espoused strong support for human rights globally.

      Are Irish commentors alone in “having kittens” over this? What’s the reason behind the wider negative reaction to the piece in the UK? Do people over there have the same knee-jerk response to Brits as you ascribe to us?

      Had a writer for the Guardian written the same words about Guantanamo the reaction would have been little different, though the debate may have failed to stir Ireland’s large contingent of moralists who only get engaged when an opportunity arises to put their heads bravely above the parapet in standing up to the scourge of philinthe’s D4 “terrorist-coddling”.

    • Ronan says:

      @dealga

      “I’m Irish and I’m not one bit offended because when I read the piece a) I don’t recognise myself in it and b) I don’t for a moment think I’m meant to. If provo sympathisers recognise themselves in there and are mightily offended well, good…”

      You have no problem with a writer who openly admits to fantasies about the savage torture of Irish prisoners of HMG and who harangues British film-makers for failing to celebrate Britain’s role in Ireland. However, you get offended by people who take Cox to task to the degree that you brand them as “provo-sympathisers”.

      Clearly a case of double-standards, nonetheless you bleat on

      “Now I’m not sure how that makes me a hypocrite. Nonetheless, given that you have assessed me to be not only a hypocrite but a ‘hypocrite of the highest order’, I imagine you must be some kind of expert in the field.”

      I need no expertise. You are a hypocrite.

    • Ronan says:

      @philinte

      I daresay you’d refrain from edulcorating with regard to “the solemn remembrance of those who gave their lives for the freedom of small nations in the Great War”.

      You question the validity of my words

      “any catholic in NI who felt compelled to become involved in the violence in the early 70s”

      I know what you’re implying, that catholics in NI, in a communal outbread of psychopathic tendencies, decided to bomb pubs full of protestants.

      My argument is that many catholics in NI were indeed compelled to take up violence, (a) in the aftermath of the murder of 11 catholics, including a priest, by the British Army in Ballymurphy in the two days after the introduction of internment of catholics (b) the bombing of McGurk’s Bar in December 1971 (15 children, women and men dead) and (c) the shooting dead a few weeks later of 13 people, 6 of whom were only 17 years old, on the streets of Derry (Cox wishes that Britain’s role in NI be celebrated).

      I’ve just noticed you wrote:

      ““Deeper and more prolonged oppression” — and this tosh is supposed to whitewash IRA brutality, I suppose.”

      Why don’t you just read the WORDS. Jimmy Sands, in a little love note to David Cox, wrote mockingly that the Irish are MOPEs i.e. most oppressed people ever. Of course this acronym is used in order to suggest that the Irish weren’t really oppressed at all, or to any significant degree. I asked him, and I ask you, especially as you use the word “tosh”, to identify a western European nation which has a history of oppression deeper or longer than the Irish.

      He failed to provide an example. Will you?

      It’s always easy to mock, but often harder to answer questions which may result.

      Finally, after all the points I’ve made to you, is that really the best you can do?

    • dealga says:

      No worries Ronan, you haven’t offended me. Happily grounded – nothing to get over.

      “You have no problem with a writer who openly admits to fantasies about the savage torture of Irish prisoners of HMG.”

      To repeat no, because I don’t believe he’s serious. I think he’s on a wind up. I think he’s gone fishing. If people want to react and spit some fury in his direction that’s their own business. I think they sound ridiculous, however.

      “…a journalist who has written for practically every UK broadsheet and New Statesman and who has produced major current affairs programmes across the range of independent television channels.”

      Really? Well I don’t know him… *shrug*… but to repeat, verbatim, if he was a decision maker or a person of significant influence then maybe I could care. Maybe. But he isn’t, so I don’t. I don’t consider people who work in the media to be influential, by the way… unless you’re a moron who can’t think for yourself. In which case you’ve got more pressing problems.

      “However, you get offended by people who take Cox to task to the degree that you brand them as “provo-sympathisers”.

      I simply stated that I don’t care if provo sympathisers are offended by Cox’s piece. I clearly did not say that everyone who was offended by the piece was a provo sympathiser. Nor, for that matter, did I claim to be offended by anything so just stop. I might add that I also couldn’t care less if any British people are offended by the film being discussed, The Wind That Shakes The Barley or any other of its ilk.

      So no double standards and no hypocrisy. Nicely twisted though. Do you practice? I’m not sure what the word is for someone who deliberately misrepresents someone’s words but you are it. It’s a good thing you’re some non-descript keyboard ranter or I’d nearly take offence at what you did there.

      I like how you finished your last post off, though. Very final sounding. Like you’ve just put me in my box. Buala bos.

    • Ronan says:

      @Dealga

      “No worries Ronan, you haven’t offended me. Happily grounded – nothing to get over.”

      You’re so cool and unconcerned.

      That’s why you keep tracking back to check what little ol’ “non-descript keyboard ranter ” me and my ilk have to say. To be fair, perhaps you’re in denial regarding your own imperviousness to offence, as there’s a bit of peevishness on display as follows:

      “I’m not sure what the word is for someone who deliberately misrepresents someone’s words but you are it. It’s a good thing you’re some non-descript keyboard ranter or I’d nearly take offence at what you did there.”

      That takes the biscuit. I know it’s hard when you’re hoist by your own petard, but just read what Cox had to say about his motivations for writing the blog:

      “I consider that advancing the discussion of important issues does constitute good reason”

      and your own gross misrepresentation of his intentions:

      “To repeat no, because I don’t believe he’s serious. I think he’s on a wind up. I think he’s gone fishing. If people want to react and spit some fury in his direction that’s their own business. I think they sound ridiculous, however.”

      What’s ridiculous Dealga, is your arrogant presumption of Cox’s inner motivations.

      “So no double standards and no hypocrisy. Nicely twisted though.”

      Your indignation at being misrepresented, in addition to your own misrepresentation of what lies at the heart of this whole debate, provides ample evidence of your hypocrisy.

      Buala bos indeed.


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