Monday, March 14, 2005

bullets and booze

St Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, a day which sees America and Ireland celebrate the similarities in their respective cultures.

Today I am reminded of one parallel that I very much doubt will be a theme for a float anywhere come Thursday.

Imagine an entire nation rocked by regular carnage caused by something which is supposedly for practical and even recreational purposes and which in the wrong hands can be drastically transformed into a lethal weapon. So much money is made from this product that the industry involved does everything in its power to prevent legislation being enacted which will affect its profit margins. The industry hides behind an organisation it created itself, arguing the product in question is supposed be a part of that very same nation’s national heritage!

I am of course referring to the NRA.


I mean The National Roads Authority here in Ireland.

Drink driving accounts for an increasing amount of road deaths each year. I’d love to quote you precise figures, but you see, it’s not quite that simple.

A road death may very well hit the headlines, but for “legal reasons” the reporters cannot say whether or not the driver responsible was suspected of being DUI. By the time a case reaches court, months if not years down the line, it is long since forgotten, and there are no reporters present to get the real message across to Joe Public right when the iron is good and hot. “Mr So-and-so from Anytown was convicted today for being 5 times over the legal limit when his car came onto the sidewalk and killed 4 people last year.” Not good copy it seems, for in the meantime there have been another hundred or so deaths on the roads.

Naturally road safety goes beyond just drink driving. My point here is that the drinks industry stands to lose a lot from anything remotely resembling a zero tolerance policy. They set up an organization known as “MEAS” (pronounced “mass”, is Irish Gaelic for “respect”, and also stands for Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society), which basically exists so they can say “Listen guys, don’t blame us! Look what we do to promote responsible drinking” whenever another victim is slain on our roads.

Yet the convictions do not make the mainstream media. Yet our version of the NRA is reluctant to release accurate figures. Yet prohibitive legislation is slow to be forced through. Yet the police do not regularly do the seemingly obvious task of stopping and testing the drivers of dozens of cars parked outside hundreds of pubs until 2 in the morning.

“But drinking is part of Ireland’s culture, man!!! An Irishman is entitled to his pint; it’s a long standing tradition! Good God, we can’t take that away from him, what will be next?”

Naturally I was reminded of this issue by the events of the weekend in Brookfield Wisconsin, Houston Texas and Atlanta Georgia. I don’t have to make my point about gun control, the incidents speak for themselves.

“But guns are part of America’s culture, man!!! An American is entitled to bear arms, it’s right there in the Constitution! Good God, we can’t take that away from him, what will be next?”

I’d be more inclined to ask: WHO will be next???


Buffalo said...

Is the private ownership of firearms prohibited in Ireland?

Buffalo said...

Is the private ownership of firearms prohibited in Ireland?

JL Pagano said...

For anything but hunting, yes.

Even the police on the street do not carry guns.

Don't think for a second that I am suggesting we don't have a crime problem here, for we most certainly do.

Gun crime, however, is a whole different ball game. We may not shoot you, but watch out for our cars, especially late at night!

Buffalo said...

I have heard Ireland has a long history of gun violence. I'd have to say the ban is not particularly effective - except in keeping them out of the hands of honest folk.
Seems to me, a free person should have the right to defend themself.
It is said that god may have created man equal, but Sam Colt made him equal

JL Pagano said...

I'm afraid you have been misinformed about Ireland's "long history of gun violence". Maybe my recent pieces on the "six brave women" will show you such violence is isolated to the terrorist factions in the Republican movement. Those six same women have just touched down in the USA to dispel those very same misconceptions.

I have lived in Ireland for almost 28 years, and I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that not once in that time has a gun been fired in a courtroom, in a place of worship or by a four year old. The USA had all three last weekend, and you would have a hard time convincing me they would still have happened with greater gun control.

Maybe God greated man equal, but He also instructed him to value life.