The thing about bullies is that they play a numbers game. In the school yard, the pattern is the same: one child, systematically isolated from the herd, is made to feel that a large group is against them. They are taunted, called names, ridiculed, and fear is deployed to make those who are not the bullies themselves feel afraid to intervene. As we grow older, we might hope that this pattern changes. It does not.
Psychotherapist Stella O’Malley this week became the latest victim of the bullies who have, for some years now, been allowed to operate with impunity in the Irish public square. A few weeks after being disgracefully and falsely smeared in the Dail by a far-left TD, yesterday she was openly targeted by a woman called Ruth O’Rourke who, in the manner of the hard left, has long since ditched her own name in favour of a street name: Izzy Kamikaze:
My pledge for #Pride month is that I will publish information about Stella O'Malley's use of Ireland as a base for #ConversionTherapy advocacy &, by the end of the month, enlist dozens (if not hundreds) of volunteers in Ireland to do practical work to bring about a total ban.🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
— This Sea of Gender Sewage 🦕🦖 (@IzzyKamikaze) June 1, 2022
Note the language used: “I will publish information about Stella O’Malley’s use of Ireland”. It is deliberately personal. It focuses directly on one person, making that person a focal point for the discontent and anger of her followers. It says – indirectly, but unmistakably – “Stella O’Malley is the problem, and if she was quiet, things would be better”.
O’Malley herself had no doubt about what the intent was:
— Stella O'Malley (@stellaomalley3) June 1, 2022
This personalising of issues in this way is not something new and radical for the Irish left. It is, by and large, the only trick in their book. A few years ago, George Hook was made an example of in a highly personalised campaign of personal destruction because he dared to venture that women should be responsible to some degree for their own safety. The actual issue was lost while George was made the perfectly measured face of misogyny: An old, white, man, lecturing women. Few dared to speak up for him, lest they be thought to agree with him. Then Kevin Myers experienced the same thing. This past week, there were efforts – stupid efforts, but intensive ones – to do the same thing to Sunday Times columnist David Quinn, for the crime of writing that a sensible immigration policy might be planned.
All of these social media mobs have something in common: They are, by and large, whipped up and screamed on by the same small group of activists. So much so that you can name them: Bernie Linnane, for example, a far-left activist from Leitrim whose anti-catholicism runs so deep that one might imagine that if her toast is burnt in the morning she’d blame the Pope, once sent 30 tweets in 2 days about George Hook urging that he lose his job.
This is not just the demented warbling of an obsessive: It is, I’d suggest, a deliberate strategy, repeated time and again, to whip up hysteria, with the hopeful objective of getting the mainstream media to start referring to people as “controversial” or fill the column inches of some clown who wants to write that so-and-so was “criticised online”.
The purpose of this personalisation of every issue is not to advance any debate, but to stop it. It is to send a message: If you dare agree with Stella O’Malley, or George Hook, or David Quinn, or this writer, or whoever the target this week is, this kind of thing might happen to you. It is designed implicitly to rid the public square of all opposition and leave the shriekers as the only people being heard. It isn’t just mindless bullying but bullying with a purpose.
And, it works. That is, after all, why they do it.
But it doesn’t work because the bullies are correct, or even because they are popular. It works almost entirely because people don’t want the hassle or notoriety involved in dealing with the bullies. One friend, a not particularly conservative fellow whose apparent crime is not being left wing enough, told me this week that following an argument online with a left-wing activist, a manila envelope arrived at the office of his employer containing historic tweets and asking his employer to “take a look” at their contents. In my own case, I have lost count of the number of times hysterical emails have been sent to employers, urging that I be fired simply for what I think.
Most people do not want to deal with this.
It is important to note here that the bullies – people like Ms Linnane, and Ms O’Rourke – play an essential role in the broader progressive ecosystem. They are allowed to operate, as a general rule, with absolute impunity, and never a word of criticism or reproach from their own “side”. They’re effectively the paramilitary wing of Ireland’s governing class – operating quasi-independently but playing an agreed and tolerated role in keeping the plebs in line and making sure dissent doesn’t get much traction. You won’t get columns defending Stella O’Malley in the mainstream media. You won’t hear a word of mainstream defence of her. Running the gauntlet of the bullies is the price progressive Ireland tells people that they must pay for mounting any challenge – even the mildest challenge – to its hegemony.
We are lectured, almost endlessly, in Ireland, about the apparent “rise of the far right”. Which is, by and large, a myth. How many far right agenda items do we see today on the political agenda? Meanwhile, Stella O’Malley is coming under fire for suggesting that perhaps – just perhaps – giving puberty blocker drugs to children is a mistake. To the extent that any faction is out of control in Ireland, it’s the far left, not the far right.
I have no expectation that this will change, any time soon. It is a situation which suits too many people. But it’s important to tell the truth about it: Bullies like O’Rourke and Linnane are allowed to pose as radical activists for change. They are anything but. They are, in fact, the tolerated guard-hounds of establishment Ireland, whose job is not to facilitate debate, but to stifle it. And this publication, though we may be alone in doing so, will not shy away from saying so.