Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Suffer, Little Children

Those of you who have read Ken Bruen’s THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS and perhaps thought that Ken was, as writers tend to do, exaggerating the horrors of the ‘Magdalene laundries’ for dramatic purposes, might be interested in the findings of the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published earlier this week. The report details systematic abuses – including physical and psychological brutality, gang-rape and torture – on an industrial scale, all of which were perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church’s various bodies. Yesterday’s Irish Times editorial, under the heading ‘The savage reality of our darkest days’, had this to say:
The key to understanding these attitudes is surely to realise that abuse was not a failure of the system. It was the system. Terror was both the point of these institutions and their standard operating procedure. Their function in Irish society was to impose social control, particularly on the poor, by acting as a threat. Without the horror of an institution like Letterfrack, it could not fulfil that function. Within the institutions, terror was systematic and deliberate. It was a methodology handed down through “successive generations of [Christian] Brothers, priests and nuns”.
  There is a nightmarish quality to this systemic malice, reminiscent of authoritarian regimes. We read of children “flogged, kicked . . . scalded, burned and held under water”. We read of deliberate psychological torment inflicted through humiliation, expressions of contempt and the practice of incorrectly telling children that their parents were dead …
  For the full editorial, click here
  Those inclined to defend, rebut, apologise for or otherwise try to contextualise the horror by way of the ‘one bad apple in a barrel’ argument should realise that some apples are bad going into the barrel, some apples are made bad by the barrel, and some barrels are better than others at creating bad apples.
  Last week I mentioned that the Minister for Justice, Mr Brian Lenihan, is pressing ahead with his plans to put the crime of blasphemy on the statute books in Ireland. Given the findings of the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, he might make better use of his time by banning religions, and particularly those who make a virtue of deviant sexual practices, such as celibacy.