Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Colonel "Category Error" Myers

Not a week since Irish commentators began finally to ponder the meaning for our narrative of Statehood of the violence done to 188 women by Michael Neary over 30 years, Colonel Myers offers us a sober reflection on the complaints of women at the violence done them and their children by their menfolk and, by extension, the need for women to knuckle down under the patriarchy and get on with it. Neary operated with the licence of the Church, State and medical profession and his handiwork with the scalpel and surgical saw was cloaked in collegial, professional and complacent silence. Not only that, but doesn't a man like Neary represent something of a ne plus ultra of the social order the Colonel espouses so passionately as the means to protect ourselves, and especially our women, from the paleolithic horrors which continue to haunt our libidinal selves?

So he removed women's reproductive organs to no medical purpose? Not to worry, in the words of the man himself "I took away the cradle and left the playpen". What japes.

Cruiskeen Eile is not entirely sceptical of the Colonel's thesis that man is a beastly creature of infamous mein, though we take great issue with his hoary prescription to save us all, which he seems to have cogged out of Baden Powell's book of scouting and back issues of Boy's Own. However, in the red mist which descended after he read Mary Robinson's recent incendiary remarks in his very own paper, the Colonel lept astride his high horse (all 16 and a half magnificent hands of him) and made straight for a massive and dangerous category error. Citing his statistically compelling Google search for "violence against women", Myers concludes that far from being cloaked in silence as Robbo avers in the most witless contention the Colonel has ever heard, physical abuse of the fair sex is being shouted about from the rooftops. (Putting the phrase in inverted commas produces a mere 7 million hits, by the way, and how many would you get from Ireland only?). But one wonders how many of the sites he managed to unearth are on the side of the feminazis. Cruiskeen Eile expects that if he checked out some of those 44 million hits, the Colonel could well find the odd celebration of man's inhumanity to woman.

On to the category error. Violence against women is quite rightly a matter on which many people are compelled as a matter of justice to speak. But the academics, politicians, lawyers and feminists Myers is tired of reading about have in all likelihood impinged not one whit on the consciousness of the wifebeaters, domestic rapists and professional butchers whose attentions it is the wretched lot of too many women to continue to put up with. And in many of our institutions, neighbourhoods, families and even operating theatres, the cloak of silence has, over the years, remained very firmly in place. In fact, it is difficult to understand how Myers can have lived in this State in particular and the world in general - a world of child rape, oppression and abuse of women and their "bastard" offspring, white collar crime and even uncomplained of meals in bad restaurants - and conclude that what injustice calls for is a little bit more shutting up.

Myers is a privileged, educated member of Ireland's media "elite" and for better or worse a significant player in the intellectual life of the State. He may be under the impression as one of the relatively few people in Ireland (adult population 2.7 million) who read The Irish Times (circulation 117,500, ABC1 readership) that violence against women is a subject constantly on everyone's lips out of all proportion to the level of violence to which women worldwide are subjected, but I'm sure the sexist bores and bourgeois knuckledraggers of places like Portmarnock Golf Club*, to whom Kevin expects us all to bend the knee (Diary passim), wouldn't know what to make of a sociological report dense with fact if it was shoved without ceremony up their fat, stupid arses. It is to be expected, however, that they would seize with alacrity on the Colonel's fatuous whinge as a way to prop up their molly-coddled world of ridiculous privilege and self-regard.

A penultimate point. Kevin asks how the Defence Forces (of whose members he takes a childish, unsophisticated and unhelpful view) have come to be one of the organisations engaged in the global fight against gender-based violence. He should have asked fellow Irish Times contributor Dr. Tom Clonan, a commentator for whom Cruiskeen Eile has great respect. A former Army captain with 12 years service and someone in a slightly better position than the Colonel to judge, Dr. Clonan found that 59 of 60 women serving in the Defence Forces whom he interviewed for his PhD thesis had suffered bullying and harrassment. Twelve claimed to have been sexually assaulted:

Just two of the women said they felt that they could complain to the authorities about the harassment.

I don't know, Kev, but in those words I cannot help but hear the whisper of a cloak of silence being unfurled.

Last word to Senator Geraldine Feeney commenting on the violent physical invasion of women at Lourdes Hospital occasioning the removal of their reproductive organs:

If a man had a minor procedure carried out on his reproductive organ and he emerged from the operating theatre minus that organ, there would be outrage. It might happen once but would never happen 188 times.

I think we can safely conclude that the cloak of silence wouldn't be thrown over that sort of thing.

*Under Irish constitutional law, Murtagh Properties v Cleary [1972] IR 330, the courts do not consider as an issue of equality for the purposes of Article 40.1 economic discrimination against women. So pay 'em peanuts, it's in the Constitution! According to Mr. Justice O'Higgins, the gobshitery of Portmarnock Golf Club also has the protection of the Irish Constitution despite being the site of a licensed premises and the beneficiary of planning permissions which benefit few in an area where there is severe pressure on property prices.


Blogger fústar said...

Were you at all tempted to photoshop in the Col's head on that pic?

9:29 a.m.  
Anonymous Stellanova said...

Ah, Gentileschi's Judith and Holoferenes! How apt. That picture would give the Colonel nightmares. Luckily for him, he will never see it, as it is a great painting by a woman and therefore doesn't exist.

9:51 a.m.  
Blogger fústar said...

Yes indeed. The Col is a bit like the religious leaders in Brecht's Gallileo (I think it was) who refused to look through the telescope, because whatever they saw just couldn't be...

9:57 a.m.  
Anonymous copernicus said...

I wouldn't sully this great female art with the Colonel's head. Or is it that I wouldn't sully the Colonel's head by sticking into female art.

11:03 a.m.  
Anonymous copernicus said...

What happened to my formatting?

11:04 a.m.  
Blogger fústar said...

You've gone and deleted the image somehow...

11:36 a.m.  
Blogger Copernicus said...

I meant before that. Deleting the image was a necessary evil. Anyway, I've restored it now.

12:35 p.m.  
Blogger Copernicus said...

While I agreed with Myers about the abdication of Robbo, his stuff about Brian "phone tap" Lenihan's integrity raised a couple of my eyebrows.

But given the degree to which the typical Myers article is dense with outrageous sentiment, how does CE discuss it all without sending our dear readers to sleep?

2:24 p.m.  
Anonymous EWI said...

But given the degree to which the typical Myers article is dense with outrageous sentiment, how does CE discuss it all without sending our dear readers to sleep?

Therein lies the quandary. If you treat it too drily, it quickly wears. However where you to go for the kill, you'll be poo-poohed by right-wing blogger types outraged at your cheapening the discourse in an, err, Myersian fashion.

5:56 p.m.  
Anonymous EWI said...

("were", even)

5:56 p.m.  
Anonymous copernicus said...

Indeed, EWI. I can't help but notice that RW and Frank McGahon for example characterise attacks on their political positions as ad hominem, especially the immoral positions.

As their positions are immoral, they deride attacks on their morality as mere personal insult, thereby shutting down debate. The fact that an immoral person's personality is obviously of direct relevance to their politics seems lost on them. RW becomes particularly vicious, histerical and deceitful I notice.

6:30 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hysterical eh - hmm, perhaps he's a woman? I understand the Colonel has had some medical training, he'll get to the bottom of this, and quick smart about it. For god sake the man himself was born of a woman - there'll be no fooloing him on a thing like this.

The time has come for pride to be set aside, the Colonel needs to be called in, and fast.

1:07 p.m.  
Anonymous EWI said...

Certainly the right track, Mr. Copernicus. The bould Frank appears to have developed a severe case of what I'm diagnosing as Fallacy ad nauseum Syndrome, a new strain of wingnut antibody to non-rightwing opinions.

4:23 p.m.  
Anonymous copernicus said...

That's brilliant EWI. Reminds me of this -


7:49 p.m.  
Blogger Frank McGahon said...

Indeed, EWI. I can't help but notice that RW and Frank McGahon for example characterise attacks on their political positions as ad hominem, especially the immoral positions.

Well as far as I can tell the only time I used the term "ad hominem" was in a discussion with Frank Neary about planning law in Ireland. I think you'll find it a stretch to paint my "political position" on planning and zoning as "immoral" but good luck with that anyhow.

The fact that an immoral person..

Immoral? I don't think so

Amoral? possibly

Evil? definitely

12:18 p.m.  
Blogger Copernicus said...

Gee Frank, I guess you must have been channelling or auto-writing over on backseatdrivers then.

I think you'll find not only characterisation of certain arguments as ad hominem, but that you've actually used the term itself.

1:28 p.m.  
Blogger Frank McGahon said...

Well I see you've moved from "attacks on my (immoral) political positions" to "certain arguments" for which concession thanks.

If you do bother to go looking for these comments of mine, you'll discover that the majority are simply to do with pointing out the errors in "EWI"'s reasoning and aren't particularly to do with personal attacks on me, you'll probably also find that I don't actually use that term but instead refer to some of the common fallacies.

I do realise it's tiresome, for those who are so cavalier with logic in their inept attempts at reasoning, to be reminded of the fact but logical errors are not of the same order as spelling or grammar mistakes: If, in setting out your argument, you commit a typo, it's of no consequence. If on the other hand your argument is built on a fallacy or few, it is fatally undermined and it's preposterous to suggest otherwise.

By the way, just so we're clear on the whole thing about ad hominems: There's nothing fallacious per se about ad hominem attacks. If I was to say "Copernicus is a smug twat for asserting his moral superiority by referring to people with whom he disagrees as immoral", it might be unseemly (although correct) but there's nothing fallacious about it. What is fallacious is the argument ad hominem where the personal attack is proffered as "proof" of some proposition. So if I was to say "Copernicus is a smug twat so whatever he has to say about [issue X] is bound to be wrong" that would be a fallacious argument.

2:56 p.m.  
Blogger Copernicus said...

I didn't call your politics immoral. I don't know much about them. I was referring to your characterisation of opponent's arguments as ad hominem.

I'm not going to bother reading the rest of your comment given that it starts with a false premise. But thanks for coming.

3:56 p.m.  
Blogger Frank McGahon said...

Sorry, I was under the impression that small 'c' copernicus:
"As their positions are immoral, they deride attacks on their morality as mere personal insult"
and big 'C' Copernicus:
"I didn't call your politics immoral."
were the same person.

4:53 p.m.  
Blogger Copernicus said...

I was referring to certain types of people in general. I think that's pretty obvious.

5:04 p.m.  
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