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T.C.D.

Volume 120 | Issue One | September 2012

World Travel | Who wants to be Irish? | Pussy Riot | Gender Quotas


Remember Your Roots...

T.C.D Miscellany 13th November 1964

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a letter from the editor...

volume 120, issue 1

W

elcome back to another year of grind, by which we mean getting merry and doing as little as possible to get into next year! A pretty good summer for my home county of Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. Though we are still working on gaining independence, (hats off to the Irish for getting there first) recognition for our hard efforts in the Olympics (winning five gold medals) should not go unnoticed in the international community - and we’ve been around longer than South Sudan so thats a plus. Though I, like a fair few others spent the summer in an exotic locale, (which is why the theme of this issue has accidentally turned out to be world travel, with some other good stuff thrown in!) it wasn’t easy to forget the inevitability of September, particularly as I frantically refreshed my timetable page which was stuck on 2011/12. Let us know what you think on twitter - twitter.com/TCDMiscellany, and if you want to get involved in design, photography or to write for us, email tcdmiscellany@gmail.com. Hopefully Miscellany this year will not be totally full of cliched pieces on why Trinity’s better than UCD, but be full of references to Yorkshire and controversial and thought provoking pieces from our writers and contributors.

Clare Burnett

Contents 4

Highs and Lows of Summer 2012 High point and low moments of the soggiest summer in living memory

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Who wants to be Irish? Laura Healy discusses the pros and cons of being Irish abroad, and the phenomenon of world-wide Irish Bars

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Head Games Gavin McLoughlin discusses the legacy of a career in American Football

10 The Sound of Freedom The controversial punk band Pussy Riot puts the spotlight of Western opinion of the ex-Soviet state 14 Life in Morocco Denise Wilkinson describes her time on the Other Side of the Med, and the little-known wonders of Morocco 20 Fighting Injustice with Injustice Our Assistant Editor Gav rails against the new gender quota legislation 22 Rolling in the Deep Polly Dennison recounts her experiences of the three American Southern states and their very different cultures 28 My Summer in a Hippie Commune How to do a funeral hippie-style in a commune in Vermont, only in the united States 30 The Woes of a Southern Protestant Matthew Taylor discusses the ongoing religious divisions in Irish society

Editor: Clare Burnett Assistant Editors: Gavin McLoughlin, Denise Wilkinson Business Manager: Dermot Clerkin With Special Thanks to Aaron Devine, and Dargan Crowley-Long for their expertise, as well as the entirety of Trinity Publications Committee for their help and support.

T.C.D. Miscellany 6 Trinity College Dublin 2 www.miscellany.ie editor@miscellany.ie Printed be Grenham Printers

T.C.D. Miscellany is a full participating member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on our pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman go to www.pressombudsman.ie.


The bloke everyone has been talking about this summer is Julian Assange. A hero to some, a villain to others, Assange’s innocence or sleaziness continues to be a contentious issue in the media. In fairness to him, most governments on the planet would love to have him in their grasp. Exposing the dirty laundry of some of the most influential nations on earth didn’t make him any friends. However, accusations of sexual assault should always necessitate a trial, no matter how important or famous the accused. Whichever way you spin it, whether he was stitched up by the authorities or a genuine perv, Julian Assange made headlines this summer.

Barack Obama goes from strength to strength in the eyes of the international community, but it remains to be seen whether the American people feel the same in the upcoming U.S elections. Both he and Mitt Romney are keen to impress voters, and while Obama’s plan for embryonic universal healthcare may not have struck a cord with all his potential electorate, to the rest of the world it shows that Americans can adapt and cast off sometimes long and arbitrarily held belief systems. Mitt Romney on the other hand made a bit of an embarassment of himself by questioning Britain’s ability to hold the Olympics at London 2012, following in the footsteps of the ever-hilarious Sarah Palin.

It’s hard to imagine that this strange looking bloke, real name James Eagan Holmes, was the perpetrator of the socalled Colorado “Dark Knight Rises” massacre, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. This was another sad chapter in the United States’ relationship with guns and the American phenomenon of mass shootings which has plagued their history. It remains to be seen whether the Colorado courts will enact the death penalty for Holmes, a sentence which has not been carried out since 1997 in that state. Added to this the one year anniversary of the Oslo massacre made this summer a pretty morbid one.

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Highs and Lows of Summer 2012 by Clare burnett Usain Bolt’s epic, if ever-so-slightly predictable win at the Men’s 100m at the Olympicswas a memorable moment, as was him and his mate Yohan Blake doing a victory dance and getting pretty cocky about it too. Then again, being officially the fastest human being on the planet is a call for celebration if I ever saw one.

Possible best friends in the making? Okay, probably not, but the symbolic handshake between the British Queen and her long-time enemy and critic Martin McGuinness marked a turning point in Anglo-Irish relations. Even those pessimists out there decrying the act for its empty, hollow symbolism can’t deny that this would have been unthinkable twenty years ago, and therein lies its significance.

I for one didn’t expect much from London 2012, but found it strangely addictive. It’s a hard one to call on our “Highs and Lows” - Olympic sports aren’t necessarily Ireland’s forte, but at least Ireland did rather well in the Eurovision, and thats what’s really important, right? If your country of choice wasn’t the brightest star on the medals table, picking any other one was fine (as long as it wasn’t the the U.K.) and unsurprisingly, China (with about a seventh of the world’s total population) did spectacularly.

Some serious Grey’s Anatomy style handywork caught our attention this summer in Rio de Janeiro. Eduardo Leite, a 24 year-old construction worker, survived serious head injuries when a six foot pole fell from above and pierced his skull. Luiz Alexandre Essinger, Chief of Staff at Rio de Janeiro’s Miguel Couto hospital, said that doctors had successfully removed the iron rod from the man’s head during a five-hour surgery. He was apparently lucid upon arriving at hospital and has not exhibited any neurological symptoms of brain damage in the aftermath of the operation. If that doesn’t impress you I don’t know what will.


all of my experiences were this drastic. I began learning a lot about Asian culture as I befriended one of my other co-workers: Myleen, a Filipino national who had moved to Malaysia for work. I noticed two tattoos written on her arm below her green shirt. I asked her what they meant and she said they were for her daughters. I was taken aback because I had guessed Myleen to be in her mid-twenties; certainly not a mother of two. She told me about her daughters aged four and eight and how they live separately, one in the Philippines and one in Kuala Lumpur, both being looked after by relatives.

Being Irish doesn’t exactly arouse the proudest feeling lately. So, a getaway sounded like a Godsend. Landing in Kuala Lumpur, I immediately felt free of all the economic burden, miles from grey skies and rain, ignorant of all that was happening at home. When I arrived at work on Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur’s party street, I felt uncomfortable. It’s not that I longed to be back in Ireland; I longed for my identity among all these strangers. And soon enough I realized that being Irish was an amazing asset to have. I worked in the only authentic Irish pub and restaurant on the street, Healy Mac’s. There I was with my younger sister wearing our uniform’s green polo shirts along with the other Filipino and Burmese staff. They fussed over us continually. I didn’t realize how foreign I appeared to them. I quickly learned that it wasn’t just my appearance that they weren’t used to, but my nationality. I would describe it as like when someone wins the lotto and suddenly their long distant cousin wants to have a friendship with them.

How is this the same as being Irish in Malaysia? Well, everyone wanted to be my friend. Of course, maybe I am being modest. Maybe I am super cool and people genuinely wanted my attention…

I couldn’t imagine this being a normal way of life for families in Ireland and I soon found out that it is the norm in Asia. Families are more often than not split up for work opportunities there. Does this make them stronger people than us? Or are we lucky to have such closely linked relationships in our every day lives? Although I can’t deny that this isn’t as much of a tradition as it used to be, with many mothers and fathers travelling further and further away from their homes to find work in Ireland. Seeing how well Myleen and the other co-workers dealt with the separation from their families reassured

But more likely is that they wanted to be part of the club. The Irish club, which doesn’t just include peoplepleasing Americans whose great halfauntie had ginger hair and who expect as a result that you must know her and become their best friend. Everyone wants to be Irish. Including me. For the first time in a very long time I felt so proud and unique to be part of Ireland. One of the staff, so much wanting to be part of this “cool” identity, changed his first name to Healy. Of course not

Paddy’s Day - an institution around the world, especially in Boston and New

Who wants to be Irish? by Laura healy

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Irish Bars around the World Cobbled together from personal experience and general summer abroad hearsay, some of the best Irish bars from every corner of the globe.

1. PADDY FLAHERTY’S, Barcelona, Spain 2. THE FIELD, San Diego 3. THE GALWAY ARMS Chicago, U.S.A 4. P.J O’BRIEN’S, Sydney, Australia 5. JORDAN’S BAR, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

me that Irish families will be ok, that ties will stay as strong as ever between families who are close enough.

to get on the menu. He triggered curiosity in me to learn more about his country, Burma, which is undergoing historic change at the moment. It was overwhelming. I met a huge range of people from Irish ex-pats to Indian students and Russian businessmen. All of them welcomed me with open arms (literally) when they were aware of my “Irishness”. I was truly taken aback and it has really made me proud to think that our nation, no matter how much trouble we are in at the moment, is always welcomed by others around the world. I cringed when jigs and reels played in the pub, sure that they wouldn’t be a big hit. Yet again, I was left dumbfounded. Irish dancing is a worldwide language. Although I was hopeless at it in the many attempts our school made at drilling some “heritage” into us, I found myself well able to move to our music in the pub. The tunes played created a feeling of family. At first it felt so awkward, so corny to be dancing to music that I don’t even listen to at home. But after a while, I just let go and was pulled into the crowd from my waitress position to dance with the customers. One special night in the Bar-restaurant was when some ambassadors came

for dinner and a “session”. The Irish ambassador to Malaysia told us afterwards that his colleagues had never experienced Irish hospitality before and that we really made him proud. But to be honest, I didn’t do much but be myself. Talking. That’s what us Irish are good at. Having the “craic” or the “banter” is a worldwide tool that we Irish have used to befriend almost anyone we meet. It is a natural talent inbred in us. Needless to say, working in Malaysia was an experience that undoubtedly changed or helped mould my personality. I learned so much about race and heritage. Mostly, I learned that I know so little about other cultures in our small world. It made me feel closer to Ireland, something I definitely don’t remember feeling in a long, long time. I regretted sighing in uninterested fashion when we were forced to sing Amhran Na Bhfiann in Irish college, not understanding what we had to be so proud of at the time.So when I arrived home to this little troubled Island of ours, I was a lot less hostile towards it and a much prouder citizen. Laura Healy is a Senior Freshman Student of Science.

Moving from Kuala Lumpur to the beautiful island of Penang, I gathered an even further collection of memories, stories and knowledge. One of my favorite co-workers there, Fred, a Burmese national, taught me all I know behind the bar. He showed me how to pull the most perfect pint of Guinness, nothing like that served anywhere else in Malaysia. He insisted I drew a shamrock into the head of each pint, which takes a lot more skill than it sounds. Fred was a quiet character. He showed me how to use the coffee machine, which is also much, much harder than it looks. I gathered that he was artistic and he also attempted to show me how to draw various shapes into cappuccino heads using the milky foam that was left over. He didn’t get frustrated with me once. Showing me things was his way of communication, as English is obviously not his first language. He smiled all the time and when we weren’t serving customers he showed me card tricks and a list of his own cocktails he was hoping

Even Barack Obama gets into the Irish spirit, spending this year’s Paddy’s Day in the Dubliner Pub in Washington, U.S.A.


Head Games by gavin mcloughlin

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unior Seau (pronounced Sayow) had enough. On the morning of May 2nd, this giant of American Football lay dead on his bedroom floor in San Diego. Wounded fatally in the chest, he had taken his own life in a manner eerily redolent of that employed by former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson (funeral pictured right), the retired starsafety whose peremptory final message read: “PLEASE, SEE THAT MY BRAIN IS GIVEN TO THE NFL’S BRAIN BANK”. Expert analysis at Boston University revealed that Duerson had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), an incurable degenerative brain disease engendered by repeated concussions and identified in more than two dozen retired NFL players. Symptoms of this horrific malady include headaches,memory loss, impaired judgment and early-onset dementia. Indeed, snippets that emerged from Duerson’s personal life subsequent to his death suggested that all was far from well. Bankrupt and divorced after an incident of domestic violence, family

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members spoke of how he had been complaining of blurred vision, headaches and a failing memory. He had become abusive and lacked control of his impulses. In the Seau case, a similar picture of personal turmoil was long apparent. In October 2010, ten months after announcing his retirement from the sport, Seau drove his car over a cliff, claiming to have fallen asleep at the wheel. Hours earlier, he had been released on bail having allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, though charges would never be filed. Contemporary speculation that this was a suicide attempt was denied by Seau’s family. No diagnosis has been made in his case of yet, and no-one but the deceased could ever specify the precise torments that motivate a suicide, but Seau’s decision to leave his brain intact seemed to point to a suspicion on his part that some sort of neurological malfunction was at work. This was a death that sparked fervid controversy. Here was, it seemed, a grisly illustration of the ghastly legacy a career in this beautiful, violent sport

can leave. Retired quarterback and twice Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner asserted that in the light of the Seau death and the revelations that the New Orleans Saints had offered cash rewards for the infliction of injury on opposing players, he would prefer if his children did not play American football. One cannot help but think Warner had a point. As a fan, it became difficult to shake the nagging feeling that I was deriving entertainment from an endeavour that had the potential to wreak havoc on the personal lives of the participants. The glib would opine that these are big boys who know full well of the dangers for which they are getting themselves in, but it is only in recent years that the insidious effects of concussion have attracted widespread comment. Indeed, in a marked about-face, the sport’s authorities have been left with no choice but to take preventa-

“On the morning of May 2nd, this giant of American Football lay dead on his bedroom floor in San Diego” tive action. But with a blockbuster class-action lawsuit with the potential to cripple the NFL making its way through the courts, it may be a case of too little, too late. The case centres upon whether the league effectively misled players about the health risks the sport entails. The NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury


committee were long-trenchant critics of damning academic findings on the subject, postulating in a paper of their own that players who suffered three or more concussions between 1996 and 2001 “did not demonstrate evidence of cognitive decline”. It should be noted that this study examined only active players and not those who had retired, meaning that brain disease may have been merely latent in those subjects at that point.

“His [Junior Seau’s] death sparked fervid controversy.Here was, it seemed, a grisly illustration of the ghastly legacy a career in this beautiful, violent sport can leave” Then, in 2007, the league promulgated a document entitled “NFL Player Concussion Pamphlet”. Readers were informed that “current research with professional athletes has not shown that having one or more concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly. It is important to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many”. This declaration came two years after a survey of 2,500 former players conducted by the Centre for Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina found that participants who had suffered three or more concussions were three times more likely to report significant memory problems and five times more likely to have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment than those without a history of concussion. The turning point came after an NFL-commissioned study at the University of Michigan found that Al-

zheimer’s and similar diseases are 19 times more likely to be diagnosed in former players aged between 30 and 49 than their counterparts in the public. A congressional hearing followed, in which California Representative Linda Sanchez equated the NFL’s position on concussion with the historical obscurantism of the tobacco industry on the repercussions of smoking. By the end of 2009, league spokesman Greg Aiello would state: “It’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussion can lead to long-term problems”. Subsequently the league would pledge amillion dollars to Boston University’s research into CTE, standardised concussion procedures would be introduced, independent neurological experts would be placed at games and the rules regarding hits to the head would be strengthened. Laudable though these improvements are, they come too late for Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, and all the others who have suffered from a paucity of medical knowledge, alleged obfuscation on the part of those in charge, and a fatuous macho culture that demanded play at all costs. Though the sport

“Linda Sanchez equated the NFL’s position on concussion with the historical obscurantism of the tobacco industry on the repercussions of smoking” may be forced to pay a heavy price for its callous response to the concussion literature, at least one can be sure that none of today’s cohort can profess ignorance about the risks that attend a career in the NFL. For that reason, my conscience will allow me to keep watching. Gavin McLoughlin is a Senior Sophister Student of Law and Political Science.


THE SOUND OF FREEDOM

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The attention of the world was turned on Russia this summer as the Moscow-based feminist punk band Pussy Riot went head to head with the might of the Kremlin after a demonstration at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. by Clare burnett

Russia has rarely been under this much global scrutiny since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, the Western world has largely guffawed with self-righteous glee at the blatant corruption of the political system, especially under President Vladimir Putin and current Prime Minister (and previous President) Dmitry Medvedev’s tandemocracy. Wikileaks (also under the spotlight thanks to the dubious antics of Julian Assange this summer) has in the past exposed American diplomatic cables declaring Russia is rife with mafia corruption, which has flourished under Putin’s autocracy. Clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black, the only difference between Russian corruption and that of so-called ‘Western’ governments is visibility, or lack thereof. Alexey Navalny, de facto leader of the opposition in Russia, declared the trial “a demonstrative destruction of justice”, akin to the Inquisition. A bit dramatic perhaps, no thumb screws have been applied yet, but on the other hand, the trial does appear to be a metaphorical witch-burning to instil fear and provide a warning to non-believers in the Putin machine. The demonstration led to the ar-

“Russia has rarely been under this much global scrutiny since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991” rest of three members of Pussy Riot in March of this year: Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, a computer programming graduate, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, a philosophy graduate, and Maria Alekhina, 24, a charity worker. They were

initially arrested on charges of ‘hooliganism,’ a law which, if it existed in the U.K. or Ireland, would no doubt lead to the

incarceration of pretty much every football fan in the land. The judge in the case of the three women called it a “severe breach of public order, expressing a deep disrespect for our society” – if disrespect of society and government actions was a crime, we’d all have been banged up at one point or another. The 2011 London Riots - now that was a severe breach of public order if I ever saw one. The British government’s reaction to the London Riots of last year was watery compared to the wrecking ball of authority that descended on this peaceful demonstration in Russia. The judge disagreed with the argument that these members of Pussy Riot were not trying to incite religious hatred against believers in Christianity of the

Russian Orthodox Church, but rather protest against the Church as a political body for their support of a corrupt regime under the thumb of Putin. What the women are accused of is hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Clearly the definition of ‘hooliganism’ in Russia is loose and open to interpretation. To those of us in the U.K. and Ireland, it implies vandalism, with malicious intent. Tarring the protesters with the brush of ‘blasphemy’, as trial judge Marina Syrova did in handing down their sentence, was a step too far towards calling their actions a hate crime. Religion is always a sensitive area in any society and particularly in Moscow, famed for its multitude of elaborate churches. As was reported in The Irish Times and The Guardian, the women entered the church, and in their trademark coloured balaclavas, sang a protest song against Vladimir Putin, of which “Mother of God, drive out Putin!” were some of the lyrics. Not the most original, admittedly, but it got the point across.

“The Western world has largely guffawed with self-righteous glee at the blatant corruption of its political regime” Where the blasphemy was in that I’m not entirely sure, it sounds more like a prayer to me. If these women had made a similar protest in Ireland or the U.K., they would probably have been passed off as a bit loony. They’d have been satirised


Moscow

Moscow is Russia’s largest city, with over 11 million people. It is the political capital of Russia, housing the government in the form of the Kremlin, and the residence of the president. According to Forbes, Moscow has the world’s largest concentration of billionaires. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, it became the capital city of the USSR. In 1980 it held the Olympics, which were boycotted by the US due to the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Patriarch of Moscow is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (right)was demolished in 1931 by the Soviet authorities to make way for a Palace of the Soviets which was never finished. The cathedral was instead rebuilt in 2000.

in cartoon form by Matt, just like Fathers 4 Justice, the group whose member memorably scaled the walls of Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman a few years ago. The fact is, Pussy Riot’s protest cut far closer to the bone of the Russian political system. They hit a sore spot, a weakness in the regime’s supposed legitimacy which has called into question the legality of Putin’s third term (though the terms were not consecutive) as President. In Russia, the concept of state control of thought as well as action clearly prevails, and in upholding this un-

fortunate circumstance, 12

Putin and his regime have unwittingly brought the suspicion of the world on themselves just as they try to become accepted members of the global society, having recently joined the World Trade Organisation after twenty years of negotiation and done rather well in the Olympics. The Kremlin’s reaction to this protest is a further indicator of the intertwining of the church and state, in direct opposition to Russia’s communist roots, cultivated by Putin himself as well as the church authorities. The theocracy which this symbiotic relationship leans towards seems a backward step, harking back even to the days of Tsarism in which the autocratic ruler was supported by and in turn supported the Church, which still remains a powerful and influential body in Russian society. Religion had lost its significance in The three women in Russian court docks known as ‘The Aquarium’. From the left: Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

society after 1917 due to the secularisation of the state by the Bolsheviks. The aim of Lenin and his successors was the elimination of religion as a pillar and cohort of the autocratic state, and in this they largely succeeded until the collapse of the Russian communist state. Now, figures estimate that 70% of the population consider themselves to be part of the Russian Orthodox religion, with a growing number of adherents to the Muslim faith due to immigration both legal and illegal from the ex-Soviet states. This return to the old faith suggests that Russia remains a staunchly religious country whose reli-

“The fact is, Pussy Riot’s protest cut far closer to the bone of the Russian political system. They hit a sore spot” giosity lay dormant for 70 years under political suppression. As in Ireland, the Church in Russia has long held sway over certain aspects of society and government. This is why the actions of Pussy Riot have caused such massive controversy. However, according to the Irish Times in August, the Russian Orthodox Church itself


was asking for clemency on behalf of the three women. This seems incongruous when compared with the previous position of the church officials and of the state, who were attempting to portray the actions of Pussy Riot in February as blasphemous and a direct attack on Russian Orthodoxy. It appears to be an attempt to save face, to practice what the church apparently preaches, mercy and clemency, despite Orthodox leaders having already condemned the three women, with the about-face coming far too late in the trial to make any difference to the verdict.

“The theocracy which this symbiotic relationship leans towards seems a backward step, harking back to the days of Tsarism ” Why any particular incident garners global media attention always seems a bit of a mystery in a pretty chaotic world, though in this case, technology was the catalyst in bringing this incident to the forefront of the world’s attention. The age of internet ensured that a video of the three women in the church during their demonstration

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became widespread, and indeed it was only after this video was published online in March that the women were arrested for their demonstration in February.

international shame and humiliation, when she is attempting to prove her right to belong in a liberal, capitalist world that had ostracised her for the greater part of the twentieth century.

Of course, the support given by Western celebrities, including Paul McCartney and Sting, but particularly that beacon of truth and decency, the eternally self-aggrandising Madonna, (who, after her concert in St Petersburg in August, is currently being sued for US$10 million by Russian anti-gay activists for ‘hurting their feelings’ and ‘encouraging and propagating homosexuality’ – which is punishable by fines under Russian law) has escalated the situation in global terms.

“Russia has earned for herself international shame... when she is attempting to prove her right to belong in a liberal world”

However, the Russian authorities’ conduct has not so much crushed opposition to Putin’s leadership through the back door route of accusing religious hatred, but rather united the anti-Putin forces in Russia behind a single cause. Their profile has been raised to a global level. The cracks in Russia’s post-Soviet façade are beginning to show, with the regime’s action called a “disproportionate response to an expression of political belief ” by the U.K. Foreign Secretary Alistair Burt. In addition, the U.S state department urged that “the right to freedom of expression is upheld”. Russia has earned for herself

In her closing statement, Yekaterina Samutsevich said: “the system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, the world sees Russia differently from the way Putin tries to present it”. She appears to be right. Far from proving itself liberal by Western standards, Russia has exposed the vestiges of autocracy and authoritarianism which remain in the system in one incident. It will be a long time and a change of management before Russia is considered truly liberal and is able to sever itself from its tainted past. Editor Clare Burnett is a Senior Sophister Student of English Literature

It is no wonder that the punk scene has grown so much in Russia, leading to the formation of movements like Pussy Riot. At the time of Punk’s birth in Britain it was a reaction to the authoritarian establishment.

The social dissatisfaction in Britain in the 1970’s and 80’s led to violent protests, notably the Brixton Riots in 1981. In Russia, the reprecussions for such opposition would no doubt be violent and oppressive. However Pussy Riot’s protest was more Gandhi than Sex Pistols, which is why the world has been so shocked by the sentencing of the women. Punk is no stranger to controversy. However, this time it is backed by legitimate political thought, and not just teenage dissatisfaction.


Under Western Eyes Morocco Unveiled: There are some places that you just cannot forget.Morocco, with it’s enchanting architecture, and warm honey hues is one of them. 14


“The souk, or market, is a place of great importance in Moroccan culture, both practically and symbolically.” If I close my eyes, I can still see the orange lowlights burning in the dark. Children are playing ‘catch’ in the market. They run so fast they knock a few empty boxes on the way. I catch my breath and one is looking at me with big brown, soulful eyes. It is a moment and then it’s lost. A large cart full of potatoes is dragged full force across the street. I can still see the orange lowlights burning in the dark: Fez at night, the souk still brimming with life. Onions, oranges, water-melons, tomatoes and pears. Large fruit stands, an explosion of colour and great sacks of saffron next to ginger and nutmeg. A weary looking donkey staggers forwards, with an old man on his back; on his sides are bags full of jewellery; earrings, necklaces and Amazigh crosses; the symbol of the Imazighen, known in the West as ‘Berber people’ and dramatised as ‘people of the desert’. On the side are buzzing baskets of warm honey pancakes and sugary pastries: halwa shebakia and kaab el ghzal, looking delicious but swarming with bees. An old man with a wrinkled burnt face sits on the side of the street selling live chickens. Next to him is another grey haired man who sits and doesn’t like being photographed. The olives are green, voluptuous and juicy, and covered in flies. Meat is

“When you visit a Moroccan city for the first time it is likely that the souk and the medina will be the first stops on your itinerary. To my mind they are the best places to start exploring and understanding the city, especially on a visual level.”

freshly hung, grotesquely exposed. A camel head dangles from a metal hook in front of the butcher’s shop sign (“We take no prisoners”). There are many mental snapshots that float in my brain, but this one, my experience in the souk, seems to have found a permanent place in my instant dial section. The souk, or market, is a place of great importance in Moroccan culture, both practically and symbolically. Practically, it is where one buys one’s fruits and vegetables, traditional pastries, bread, meat, honey, and

The souk is a feast for the eyes and at night-time it undergoes a strange enchantment whereby all the colours which had been so strong and individually striking during the day, are suddenly mellowed and bathed in a gentle, golden evening light. Here in the West, especially in the major cities like Dublin, London, Paris or Milan, we are used to cold colours. The main materials that pave our streets and support our walls are stone and cement. Of course there are many other colours and materials which make up these places, but the dominating colours are greys, whites and creams. So perhaps what fascinated me the most about Morocco was its different overall hue, an incredible array of

“The souk is a feast for the eyes and at night-time it undergoes a strange enchantment” yellows, beige and orange. Perhaps they are due to the sand and dust, which I felt were always in the air. Or maybe it was because the sun was never really covered by anything, and only ever left its place to sink into the ground and soak the city with its warmth. In Rabat, the capital city, the old medina is small and quite safe. A good part of it forms the souk, whilst the other is permeated by dark, narrow alleyways and small enclosed areas. It is a strange place, the walls separate it from the rest of the city and once you enter you cannot but feel a surreal sense of being in a different time, in a different land. where you may find all sorts of traditional handicrafts, whether this be jewellery, clothes, leather goods or other artefacts. Yet symbolically, to the eyes of a common Westerner, the souk represents a trademark of Morocco, a place that, like the old medina, can be found in all Moroccan cities. When you visit a Moroccan city for the first time it is likely that the souk and the medina will be the first stops on your itinerary. To my mind they are the best places to start exploring and understanding the city, especially on a visual level.

The people are mostly wearing jalabas and other traditional Moroccan dresses,; the walls are made of rammedearth, giving the medina a sandy, earthen hue. Piles of rubbish are left to rot in large piles on the corners of the streets and dozens of cats are left to roam wild. Laundry lines are visible outside houses, some of which don’t have proper doors but are only closed off to the rest of the word by heavy curtains. The smell of spices from the souk is mixed with a strong smell of leather and mud. Most streets are not properly paved.


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The Sahara Desert stretches across the entirety of Northern Africa, and is a huge influence on Moroccan life.


“We all realised how incredible and surreal this whole experience was”

The pace of the medina is unhurried, women walk by slowly arm in arm and men sit on the pavement outside their shops and look at the streets. It is difficult to explain the emotion you feel the first time you see the desert. It was a long and tiring trip. After six hours I started to think that maybe we were already in the desert but

“It is difficult to explain the emotion you feel the first time you see the desert.” that I probably had not realized it, after all, there were some occasional camels grazing by the road. I could not have been more wrong, as you cannot possibly enter the desert unawares. When we finally got out of the van it was to board five separate 4x4s (more suitable for rocky or difficult terrain). At this stage most of the students participating in the excursion were pretty worn out, so it really came as a surprise when my friend John suddenly pointed out: “…are those Dunes?”. And indeed they were. The scenery had rapidly undergone some drastic changes. We were now suddenly enveloped by an intense orange dust, which was almost red, and the sky had also changed, becoming more blue, as if a hypothetical video quality had just been adjusted to maximum saturation. Of course, anyone who had read Frank Herbert’s

sciencefiction Dune saga, or seen the movie, was now beyond excitement, possibly expecting to see Fremen with piercing blue eyes riding gigantic sandworms. I know I was. We were greeted by our Berber guides, who suggested we wore the turbans we bought earlier on that day for protection against the sand and the sun. Then we saw the camels that that

“What truly made my trip to Morocco such a rich and enriching experience was, in fact, the people. Indeed, I have rarely felt such warmth and welcome. ” were to escort us to the camp sight. There were about 25 of them, all munching away peacefully. With my capitalist mind-set I immediately spotted one that I particularly liked and declared: “This one’s mine!” But it was not to be because, given my small stature, our

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guide Hassim thought it better to give me the small albino one instead. After sufficient photoshooting we were off. It was then, as the sun began to set on the dunes, that we all realised how marvellously incredible and surreal this whole experience was. We were even caught in a sandstorm. Being there on that little camel in the middle of the desert was a childhood fantasy come true. All I needed was some sort of a sword or weapon and I would have happily tricked myself into thinking that I was some sort of amazon discovering the world and living the life. I confessed this to my friends. A surprising number agreed. It was great to feel like a child again. Yet what truly made my trip to Morocco such a rich and enriching experience was, in fact, the people. Indeed, I have rarely felt such warmth and welcome. I shall always remember the young mother who was hosting my friend in her house. One afternoon a group of us students were returning from an outing in the souk and walked our friend back to his host house, in the old medina, to pick up something that he had forgotten. Lost in our conversations, we marched loudly through the narrow street that harboured many small houses with no doors, the entrance covered only by curtains. With out much consideration, all eight of us walked into the house and waited in the sitting room. At this point a beautiful, smiling, young lady emerges from another room, again only separated from the rest of the house by curtains, and welcomes us into her home as if we were family friends or long awaited guests, rather than the , invading teenagers which we were. She then offered to make us some traditional Moroccan mint tea and invited us to sit down on with her and tell her


about ourselves, as we were friends of her host-son. Despite our loud and intrusive foreign manners we were welcomed with the utmost warmth and kindness. I also remember my Syrian teacher, Nancy, who has recently left her beloved Damascus, which she greatly missed, to teach in Rabat. I remember sharing a cab with her on the way to school and her reassuring words on the four hour Arabic exam I was about to face. I remember

her kindness when I was no longer taking the intensive course but she said that if I wanted I could sit in her classes anyway, that way I would learn more. I remember the doctor I went to when I was sick, badly sunburnt and therefore slightly paranoid. He answered all my questions in detail and with patience, he assured me nothing was seriously wrong with me and that although he could not do miracles he would try his best. And he did. I was up and running in two days. Now when I think of Morocco I see the colours and the souks, the orange

low lights burning bright. I think of the contrast between old and new, I think of the sand and the unpaved streets of the old Medina of Rabat. I think of the school receptionist Ludfi, who surprised us all with his mellow, beautiful, soulful voice on the karaoke organised to celebrate the Fourth of July. I think of all the Arabic I have learnt in such a short space of time and I remember trying to practice it, in my first week, with our Berber camel guide, Hassim. We had a very short conversation

“Now when I think of Morocco I see the colous and the souks, the orange low lights burning bright. I think of the contrast between old and new. I think of the sand and the unpaved streets”

“The scenery had rapidly undergone some drastic changes. We were now suddenly enveloped by an intense orange dust, which was almost red, and the sky became more blue, as if a hypothetical video quality had just been adjusted to maximum saturation”

about the weather which ended in: “You do not know much Arabic, do you?”. On the plane back home I sat next to a Moroccan lady who was going to go on holiday in my native country, Italy. I told her I was sad because I was leaving hers, so she replied with her beautiful Moroccan smile: “Do not worry, Insha’Allah you shall be back soon”. Insha’Allah, I will. Denise Wilkinson is a Junior Sophister Student of English Literature. Credits also go to Lucia Zamperetti for the photography in this article.


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a person’s suitability as a TD. The real problem with the under-representation of females in the Dáil is its concomitant exclusion of able people. Frankly, the idea that women need to be present in parliament because men are inherently less capable of legislating in areas of particular female interest is a form of bigotry.

A mere fifteen percent of TDs elected to the thirty first Dáil in February 2011 were women. As of August 2012, this figure puts Ireland in 89th place in the female parliamentary representation world rankings, just one place ahead of the paragon of virtue that is Zimbabwe. Clearly, there is a force retarding women’s progress in Irish politics, and it does our democracy a grave disservice. As a remedy, the government proposes the introduction of gender quotas. At the next election, parties that do not field at least 30 per cent female candidates will see their State funding halved, with that threshold rising to 40 per cent for subsequent elections. Laudable though the aim of increasing female representation is, this is a wrong-headed, maladroit manner of doing it. Consider what the passage of this law entails. Under penalty of significant financial loss, the coalition parties are effectively dictating how their political rivals are to select their candidates. If the Labour Party wishes to institute a gender quota for its own selection procedures, that is its prerogative. However, they have no business excluding those who do not share their views on a political issue like positive discrimination from a system of funding designed to sustain the electoral process. This is wholly undemocratic. How ironic it is that those who have appropriated the noble term of “liberal” for themselves are behaving in a fashion that should chill the blood of Irish civil libertarians. Furthermore, gender quotas promote personality politics. The primary qualification for political office should be a person’s ability, but quotas imply that involuntary characteristics like sex or race should be considered grounds upon which to evaluate

Indeed, if the under-representation of one group is a problem, surely it is unconscionable to ignore others? There are no black deputies in the Dáil, so where is the quota to ensure the black community’s interests are best represented? What about the disabled and so forth? The answer, of course, is that it would be absurd and likely impossible for parties to field candidates representing each of the 9 categories upon which discrimination can be based, and in the correct proportions. Given that hypocrisy has never been a problem for some Irish politicians, however, perhaps we should not expect a breakthrough for logic on this front. Moreover, doesn’t the introduction of quotas represent a capitulation, an admission of defeat? Many female politicians have made a rich contribution to Irish public life without the need of a quota. Their implementation seems like an acknowledgement that despite this, women are in fact in need of special treatment, that they can’t do it on their own. Indeed, approbation for the new law is far from universal amongst women for this reason, and it would be

Feminist scholars have pointed to the “5 C’s” as the source of the political imbalance: culture, cash, childcare, confidence and candidate selection. Gender quotas counteract only the last of those directly. It should be noted while 15 per cent of party political candidates in the 2011 election were women, the figure dropped to 10 per cent for those designated as “Independents/ Others”. This is a revealing statistic. Even where the party machine that is alleged to hold women back is absent, the number of female candidates remains paltry. So while the new quotas may help to get more women into parliament, they will represent only the most feeble assault on the root cause of the problem. It is indisputable that as Irish society has become increasingly secular, patriarchal attitudes have ceased to predominate. As a younger generation grows up, these out-moded conceptions are headed inexorably for the scrapheap. It is important in the meantime to work hard to encourage capable individuals of all hues to consider a career in politics, but the price of so doing should not include a subversion of the democratic process. Let us cling to the probably quixotic hope that an epiphany leading to the repeal of this ludicrous piece of legislation strikes the coalition. Gavin McLoughlin is a Senior Sophister Student of Law & Political Science.

Gender Quotas? by gavin mcloughlin

an unfortunate and pernicious sideeffect if a perception of tokenism were to take root. Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, the 7th and 8th Presidents of Ireland.


Polly Dennison discusses her experiences of the American South, and the continuing taboo of race, despite the inaugural Presidency of a Black American, in a land that was once a bastion of slavery.

In The Deep South

We started in Atlanta, then to South Carolina, then to Texas. Three different states, three different versions of “The South”; three different Southern accents and three distinctive and constantly feuding styles of barbecue. We began, as all travels do, with the actual journey. As with most trips to the States, that meantgetting up at the crack of dawn and sitting, post-clearance, in Terminal 2 with its very small selection of anything to do in the US holding area. There’s the Irish security screening, then the questions and then the US screening. I’m Irish and was flying with my boyfriend of over three and a half years, a native Austinite who is now an official resident of Ireland as a result of our relationship. We were asked at four different points if we were married. As we were not, and are not, married, but live together, this caused much confusion; we were told to use one form as it was one-perhousehold and then we were told to use two because we’re not married.

“Three different states, three different Southern accents and three distinctive and constantly feuding styles of barbecue ” 22

by POLLy DenniSOn

Subsequently, we were told to queue together and then to stand in separate lines. Then one security officer topped it by asking “Are you married?” to which we replied “No”. He then pointed to the queue we should join, looked at myboyfriend and said “You can go with your wife”. Was this man not strong on listening skills or has America still not become accustomed to the idea of living with someone longterm but remaining unmarried? The flight was wholly uneventful – the way all good flights should be – apart from when I, watching ‘The Descendants’ on board, went from wanting to weep uncontrollably to laugh out loud in the middle of a full flight. Not my finest moment. Atlanta, (right) or Hot-Lanta, as I recall it being named during one episode of Sister Sister, was just that. Over thirty degrees and humid – air conditioning was my saviour. The image I had in mind of a large, sprawling American city could not have been more wrong. It is green, very green. Trees and forestlike parkland cover the whole city so that when you look down on it from the sky, anything outside ofthe very central section looks like small villages in between woods with the odd high-rise poking up. Atlanta is culturally diverse and quite cosmopolitan, but still remains a Southern city – hospitality, accents and all.

The first two days in Atlanta were spent getting over jet-lag, plotting our journey to South Carolina and looking after a large, floppy-eared, blackand-white rabbit named Quinn. On our third day, we took my boyfriend’s brother’s old white Accura (think white Knight-Rider) and headed for South Carolina: Appalachian country.

“Atlanta is culturally diverse and quite cosmopolitan, but still remains a Southern city - hospitality, accents and all” It was ... interesting. We went to the university in the rural, North-Western South Carolina town of Clemson. I am doing research for my dissertation, which will be on something concerning the American Civil War and slavery. I keep telling people that writing a thesis is an organic process– which pretty much means that I have no idea what I’m writing about yet, it’s in development mode so stop asking until I tell you, thanks. Heading to the States to visit and stay with various folks across the South made it easy to add three days in Clemson University, which happened to house everything I required and is a mere two-hour drive from where we were staying in Atlanta.


Clemson is a typical American university, but not in the Ivy League, preppy sort of way. Instead,in the American-football-rules and everyonewears-Clemson-colours-around-campus sort of way. Clemson is a small town with many, many chain restaurants and hotels which seemed quite odd at first. Clemson’s population outside of term-time

is in the low five digits. During term time it goes much higher and on game days it is over 120,000. Clemson’s major claim-to-fame is their (American) football team and their stadium. The chain restaurants and hotels are there to cater forthe masses when they come. Outside of term-time, they are empty and patronised only by a few locals. Good food was not to be found, coffee which was not instant was not to be 24

“Studying slavery and being in a place where the remnants of slavery can still be seen on the landscape ...was unsettling at times”

found, vegetarian food was not to be found. One meal was literally a pork sandwich with a side of pork stew (which is traditionally made with squirrel – must have been out of season). Despite the lack of culinary diversity, the people were charming and always willing to help. As soon as they found out I was doing research on the locality, they wanted to put us up, show us around and take our photograph.

Studying slavery and being in a place where the remnants of slavery can still be seen on the landscape was unsettling at times. We toured two houses, each a former plantation. We stood in slave quarters and walked thegardens which they tended. Some older people we spoke to did not want to discuss the issue, instead suggesting that slave owners never really wanted to be

slave owners and just did it to keep up with the Joneses. While I do not think this is the view of the majority, it still existed in South Carolina and the whole subject still made people rather uncomfortable. “Separate-But-Equal” laws were still in place when most of our parents were born and until some of them were in their teens or twenties. Legal segregation no longer exists, but it’s visible;


everyone who served us in shops or restaurants were black (or young college students), all garden workers were black, all hotel cleaners and maintenance workers were black. There are parts of towns which are the black neighbourhoods and there are supermarkets and churches which are predominantly black. Black communities stick together and so live in the same neighbourhoods and go to the local church and local market. It may be a cultural rather than societal thing.

“Legal segregation no longer exists, but it’s visible; everyone who served us in shops or restaurants were black...Black communities stick togther” As one person explained to me, crossing these subtle boundaries wouldn’t cause anyone a problem, it just wouldn’t really be done to begin with. I don’t want to suggest that it’s a conscious move bythe residents or the people of South Carolina to segregate – it just appeared to be the way in whichsociety was organised, and had been organised for years. Change just hadn’t come to those everyday aspects of life. It seemed that South Carolina had not come to terms with itself, its history, or even perhaps its future yet. Back in Atlanta before heading to Texas, we spent a few days seeing the city, reloading on good coffee and looking after the bunny some more. Some

of the best of Atlanta? The barbecue – where they smoke a chunk of pork for hours, covered in spices, until it is so tender you can pull it apart,cover it in barbeque sauce and shove it in a burger bun. Always good. Another highlight for sure was the Martin Luther King Centre. I’ve always been interested in African-American and civil rights history, so this was a no-brainer for me. Having been, I would recommend it to anyone. The centre lies in the middle of the neighbourhood where Martin Luther King was born, grew up, preached and is now buried. There is a museum which documents his work, and contextualises it in the greater scheme of the civil rights movement and what it was to be Black in the US in the past. A wonderful mural of non-violent protests with the central messages of the campaign on placards amongst the crowd lies outside. Next is the house where King was born – a beautiful two-storey, pea-green clapboard house, with full wrap-around porch in the traditional Southern style. Finally, we went to his grave (top right), which was incredibly overwhelming. Down from the Martin Luther King Centre for Non-Violent Change stretches a staggered pool around 200m long, with stepping levels going down into a final, larger pool. In

the centre of this, on a round, raised platform is the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. It is hard to describe the experience fully. While I have read about the civil rights movement and studied it at university, watched films and listened to recordings about it, I was not prepared for it all in one place. While we in Ireland are all aware to some degree or another of the struggles which so many saw, we are so removed from it that all our

“It is hard to truly get a picture of how appalling everything was until you walk the streets where it all happened, until you visit slave plantations...”

knowledge tends to come from books alone. It is hard to truly get a picture of how appalling everything was until you walk the streets where it all happened, until you visit slave plantations and until you are confronted with image after image of the lynchings, the attacks, the protests, the court cases and the Martin Luther King, born 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is famed for his peaceful tactics in the African American Civil Rights Movement, and in 1963 made history with his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. He was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.


“The South is an interesting place. It can be excessively poor, or dripping in oil money. The people are warm and welcoming, Southern hospitality certainly lives up to it’s stereotype” few – it is a centre of good everyday living. There is also some southern architecture in Austin that reminds you how rich the south used to be, for example to state government buildings (right).

marches and everything else that

“There’s an optimistic feeling about Austin...there’s always good food to be found” happened, all in one exhibit. The awareness of this history only heightened the experience of the South. After Atlanta, we travelled on to Austin, Texas, a fantastic combination of cosmopolitan and Southern-ness. It means everyone is friendly, it’s always warm, it’s not that expensive and there’s always good food to be found. Austin is the best example of this that I have come across so far. Nestled in Republican land, in between Dallas oil and desert territory and Houston marshland is Austin. It isn’t that big (about the size of Dublin), but packing a punch way above its weight in terms of food, coffee, shopping and music... and the people aren’t bad either. There’s an optimistic feeling about Austin. Maybe it’s the constant sunshine – who knows? But the old American idea that Anything-is-Possible has sort of survived there in terms of business. People set up gourmet food 26

trucks, because they want to, for example. They are not greasy spoons, but instead house gourmet experiences in Southern food, Thai food, made-to-order doughnuts with amyriad of toppings and many, many other options. There are re-runs of old movies at the local poolwhere everyone sits in rubber rings with a cooler of beer floating next to them, just because it’s fun. Austinites don’t need endless reasons to have fun, to make good food, good beer or good coffee– they just do it. Yes, it is branded as a hipster city, but it’s not in any ironic, pretentious, way. People there are just like that any-

“It is branded as a hipster city, but it not in any ironic pretentious way... People in Austin are like that anyway. Hell, their motto is ‘Keep Austin Weird’” way – it is an alternative city, hell, their motto is “keep Austin weird”. While it may not be a centre of museums, or galleries – although it does have a

They’ve got it down. Most supermarkets are organic and free-range only, there are co-operatives and this is the birth place of the veggie-freerange-organic-small-business heaven that is Whole Foods. There are concerts on all the time, it’s the home of SXSW and Austin City Limits and has more live shows than any other city in the states. This was my fourth visit there and every time I go back, I love it more and want to bring more of it home with me. The South is an interesting and fasciating place. It can be excessively poor or dripping in oil money. The people are warm and welcoming. Southern hospitality certainly lives up to the stereotype. Republicans rule and Democrats huddle together in places like Austin or Atlanta – centres of all things organic and “weird”. Some towns and cities are still split by divisions established long ago and classes still noticeably exist. No, there aren’t laws or rules instating segregation anymore but it’s still alive in small, and great, everyday ways. The food and the weather are fantastic though, in most parts, and don’t mention any rival state’s barbecue. Texas has beef, Georgia and South Carolina pork, but all done in subtly different ways. For me, a combination of my favourite elements of the South, pulled pork sandwiches, great weather and friendly people are all to be found in Austin. It lived up to expectations and is definitely worth a visit. May they forever keep it “weird”. Polly Dennison is a Senior Sophister Student of History


Shadow Lake). Conditions, they warned me, would be “rustic”. Still, before I arrived, I felt secure. At least they had warned me. At least I was prepared. I soon discovered, however, that I was not prepared at all. I was especially not prepared for the funeral. They may have warned me about outhouses and the lack of internet, but they had not warned me that I would have to attend both a funeral and a birthday party on the very first morning of my stay. As the first sod of dirt fizzed against the psychedelic coffinlid, a rainbow bouquet of balloons popped lazily up into the sky. “Who wants to throw on some dirt?” grinned Poppy’s bereaved son, holding out the shovel and casting another red flower on the grave. It was my first day at Bread and Puppet Theatre, a radical left-wing theatre company that puts on radical left-wing puppet shows at its huge, ramshackle sustainable living commune in upstate Vermont. I had come there to work as a press intern in the company printing press, and before I got there, I could not possibly have imagined what it would be like. All I knew about it then was what I had gleaned from the internet and from my hand-typed ac-

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good funeral as much as the next Irish person, and of course I have nothing against birthday parties. Free sandwiches and a few pints are not to be scoffed at. But this felt uncomfortable. For one thing, I did not even casually know the deceased (an old local lady and friend of the theatre named Poppy). But worse than that, I did not even casually know anyone who knew the deceased. I was a total stranger. As for the birthday party, this also made me uncomfortable, but slightly less so. I was equally unknown to the birthday girl, but at least it was less likely that I would have to commiserate with her grief-stricken relatives. It turned out that I was wrong. Well, not about the grief-stricken relatives - the birthday went without a hitch. I

surrounded by smiling, laughing people. The women wore summer dresses, the men wore beards and loose cotton shirts, and everyone seemed busy and cheerful. I had never seen so many flowers - they spilled off the table, and lay around in bunches, slotted into any available space. Black eyed susans, poppies, sunflowers, mallows, cornflowers, daisies, red, yellow, pink, blue and even sprigs of green sprayed out in all directions. The Bread and Puppet brass band stood a short distance away, under a tree, practicing, playing “You Are My Sunshine” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”. They, too, had flowery garlands twisted into their hair and around their instruments. The tuba was filled with flowers. In the front yard were yet more smiling hippies, collecting banners and singing. The banners were canvas flags, on tree-branch poles, and each one had a beautiful red poppy on it and the word “SING!” Other people appeared, with gigantic puppet-head masks and long, flowing dresses and suddenly we had miraculously transformed into a parade - a rectangle of people, marching in fours, with the brass band at the front and banners waving behind, puppet people and real people, all tailed at the back by a gigantic 14 foot puppet-woman; the “washerwoman”. And we were off, marching down the country road, singing along with the band and dancing. Everyone was laughing and chatting, making comments - inhibitions floated off like dandelion seeds and we were all friends, marching along together. We marched until we reached a dirt road, which we turned and marched up. At

My summer in a hippie commune by michelle buckley

ceptance letter. Still, before I arrived, that felt like warning enough. I knew, after all, that I would have to live in communal sleeping quarters, and use outhouses instead of toilets. I knew I would have no internet or mobile phone reception and that I would be limited to one shower a week (although I also knew that this could be supplemented by bathing in nearby 28

mean it turned out that I was wrong to feel like my presence would be unwelcome. At Bread and Puppet, it seems, anything and everything can be a celebration. The funeral was at 10am, and when I finished my breakfast on that first morning, I walked out into the back yard of the compound to find the long wooden outdoor table in the backyard covered with flowers and

the top of the hill, we saw a painted hearse. Beside the hearse was a grave. The mood was light as we settled down. Poppy’s son gave a speech and everyone seemed to be in the best of moods. The coffin was multicoloured. According to the son, the local kindergarten had been commissioned to paint it and the kids had all had a


whale of a time, climbing in and out of it, painting it. He laughed as he told of how wonderfully unperturbed the children were - they climbed in and out of it, and one child asked whether or not the paint would get stained with the dead person’s blood. “Only if she died by the sword.” answered another child, matter-of-factly. Then the casket was lowered into the ground, and buried her together. There were only two shovels, so if you didn’t have one, you could just throw flowers in with the dirt. The brass band played, and when the coffin was covered, the balloons were released, and everyone started to dance. We danced on the spot for a while, then picked up our banners and danced back in a procession to the Bread and Puppet farm. Cars driving past honked and waved and smiled at the parade. They could never have guessed that it was a funeral. It was definitely the most cheerful funeral I have ever attended. At the same time, however, I felt like it was also the saddest. It seemed to me that there was something terribly impersonal about it. The son gave a speech, but he didn’t cry. He said nothing personal about her. He only talked about the local children, and about Bread and Puppet. Even the procession, although it was in her honour, was completely impersonal. She hadn’t even chosen the spot. The ceremony had nothing to do with Poppy at all, only with Bread and Puppet. Underneath all the pomp of her funeral, the flowers, and the people singing and drawing attention to themselves, it felt like the woman herself was lost.

This was something I noticed more and more the longer I stayed at Bread and Puppet. Everyone was friendly, and everyone treated everyone else like a best friend. But it felt like that was at the cost of actual personal relationships - everyone was for the group, no one was for themselves. A lot of the people I met there, while intelligent and fun and kind, seemed to have no true individuality. Or maybe they did. But their actions usually had to do with the group - everything was for the good of the group, and done as part of a group. We ate what everyone else ate, we went where everyone else went, we slept where everyone else slept, we fought for the same causes as everyone else there - which made it rather ironic that most of them prided themselves on their individuality, their free thinking, and their anarchist sympathies. The only individualistic choice I ever saw many of them make was the choice of which group they followed. At Bread and Puppet, I was no longer an individual, but a piece in a puzzle. I wondered whether I was simply selfdeluding and ignorant. Perhaps things are the same in “normal” society. Perhaps my “choices” are never really mine, and I’m just so brainwashed by society that I think they are. Or perhaps I simply have too much money. After all, to some people this place seemed to be heaven. A lot of people I spoke to were artists – not students. Many of them worked several labourintensive, low paying, menial jobs in their lives outside. Their art was constantly limited by money and time, in a vicious

cycle which seemed to have no end. They woke up, worked, went home, worked and slept. Their daily lives were constantly dictated by money. Here, though, money was no issue. We may not have chosen our meals, or our daily plans. But at least we chose to be here. I thought about the part in Paradise Lost where Satan tells all the other fallen angels to buck up. “The mind is its own place” he says “And in its self / can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven {...} Here at least we shall be free./ Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, to reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heaven.” When I left Bread and Puppet, I was happy. I smiled all the way back to New York City. I smiled like a hippy at a funeral parade. I was happy to leave, and happy to go back to my own heaven. But at the same time, I felt enlightened. I could never have expected that the experiences of Bread and Puppet, from skinny-dipping in a roadside creek, to slaughtering a pig, would teach me to value my own lifestyle, and most importantly, to respect the lives of others. After living on a commune, I know that I will never become a communist – but at least I understand why others might. l may prefer tears of sorrow and anguish at my own funeral – but if called to do so, I will laugh respectfully at yours. Michelle Buckley is a Junior Sophister Student of English Studies.


The Woes of a

Southern Protestant Being a Protestant in Ireland is not really a matter of religious faith. It is an issue of culture, of history and of nationality. Often marginalised as a community, seen as being aloof and in some way ‘foreign’, bearing the taint of some illusory un-Irishness, having claim to this heritage is not as charmed as one may think. It is a way of being that brings with it a lot of baggage. Indeed, it is a far more diverse community than Leaving Cert History would have you believe. I am Protestant, born to a Church of Ireland father and a Catholic mother, with a half Protestant maternal grandfather. My mother’s Catholic family were wealthy, landed types from Co. Clare and my father’s Protestant family is English on one side (dock workers and soldiers from Portsmouth) and desperately poor on the other (a family of tinkers and urban labourers from the Liberties). For these reasons, I always had to scratch my head in history class when the teacher and textbooks told us about these top-hatted, horse riding landowners who hated ‘The Irish’ (Catholics all) and dreamt only of being accepted in London social circles. This is not the heritage I know. While undoubtedly much of the wealth of Ireland’s former elite was vested in the hands of card-carrying Episcopalians, there were swathes of dirt-poor Prods living in squalor in the tenement houses of Dublin’s inner city. Think Leadbetter, from Brendan Behan’s The Hostage, where Behan famously described the Anglo-Irish as “A Protestant with a Horse” making that distinction that is now all too easily forgotten; not all Protestants were rich. It is this failure to distinguish the difference which results in widespread bigotry against Irish Protestants to this day. I will never forget the frankly shoddy treatment that I received when attending Irish College. I was forced to attend masses, despite asking privately that I be exempt, and when my housemates found out that I wasn’t a Catholic I was rounded on in a way that went well beyond good fun. I was accused of being a ‘West Brit’, of somehow hating Ireland and of thinking that I was better than everyone else. As any Protestant will tell you, I 30

had broken the golden rule; don’t tell anyone what you are unless you’re certain they’re the same. This tying together of the Irish language and Catholicism, the construction of a bland nation of singular purpose and character based on that outrageous statement that a nation is defined by “a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry” is one based on total ignorance of the vibrancy and importance of minorities in any country. Particularly minorities as old as the “English of Ireland”, the ethnic group from which the Protestant religion of this country sprang. This “No-Foreign-Games-WhileWearing-A-Celtic-Jersey” attitude is more pervasive than I would like to think. I was at a party a year ago for a friend who had also invited several people from his course. One of these was a particularly craven individual who defined himself as a “Nationalist”, refusing to drink a glass of Bushmills that was offered to him on the basis of its Protestantism. When I asked him what he meant, he told me that Protestants had raped Ireland and that he would not be associated with them on the basis that “in the North, they throw their piss at children”. Had I not been so incensed I probably would have thought it was funny, the sheer absurdity of this man’s prejudice having a tragi-comedy air. A “Nationalist” really ought to think more before eschewing his Orange friends. Henry Grattan, Wolfe Tone, Napper Tandy, Robert Emmett, Thomas Davis and the Young Irelanders, Isaac Butt, Charles Douglas Hyde, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and Stewart Parnell (right). Protestants all, and among Ireland’s most influential Nationalists, Patriots and Revolutionaries. This black and white view of Irish history and

by matthew taylor society is so redundant as to be ridiculous. The Catholic=Nationalist, Protestant=Unionist metric of Irish historical measurement fosters bigotry on both sides with no appreciation for nuance, subtlety and exception. It annoyed me as an 18 year old, and it annoys me now as a Senior Sophister History student. I do not care to have my patriotism profaned by strangers on the basis of a choice I never made. Nor do I appreciate accusations lobbed against my ancestors who had no connection with the wrongdoings of those they sat beside in church. We must aim to reevaluate our nationality. At a time of influx of foreign nationals, seeking to become Irish, and at a time when North-South relations are at an all time high, surely we must seek to broaden our idea of “Irishness”. You can now be Protestant and Irish, Black and Irish, Gay and Irish, as we move away from this one-sizefits-all, faith-a-begorrah concept of this country. To be Irish is to love this country, and that surely must be the only criteria to call yourself its child. Matthew Taylor is a Senior Sophister Student of History.


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Miscellany Vol 120 Issue 1  

First Issue of Miscellany Volume 120

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