The Irish media’s go-to expert on the “far right”, Aoife Gallagher of ISD Global, posted a lengthy twitter thread some days ago about calls from parents to remove from schools a work by Juno Dawson called “This Book is Gay”.
Attempts to have the book removed from recommended reading lists for children amounted, said Gallagher, to a “harassment campaign” against LGBT people:
With the national media finally catching up to the harassment campaigns to remove LGBTQ+ books from libraries, it seems I need to tap this sign again. Full explainer here from @timsquirrell and I on where this is coming from: https://t.co/OWjH7NgMAk
— Aoife Gallagher 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@aoifegall) April 4, 2023
The book itself, pitched by the Department of Education at children aged 12-14, includes advice like “as with handjobs and breakfast eggs, all men like their blow jobs served in different ways” and “it’s about sliding your mouth up and down the shaft of his cock”.
These are, by the way, amongst the milder passages.
If Ms. Gallagher considers that only the “far right” might consider that kind of thing inappropriate for pre-teenage children, then she might find that a very large section of the population would sooner call themselves “far right” than choose to endorse that kind of material for their kids. And yet I suppose it’s a win-win: A larger “far right” undoubtedly equates to more state funding to combat the “rise of the far right”, and so on.
In any case, the Department of Education has surrendered, it seems, to the “far right” – the book in question will no longer be recommended to young teenagers.
The obvious question that has to be asked is how this came to happen in the first place. The department has now reviewed the book, and found it to be unsuitable: This leads to two potential reasons that it was recommended. Either it was initially reviewed by the Department of Education, and found to be suitable, and the Department has since changed its mind.
Or in the alternative, the book was never actually read by anyone in the Department of Education, and was recommended by it on the advice of one of the myriad NGOs and lobby groups that issue recommendations to the Department on such matters. It was then nodded through.
I know which one my money is on: The institutional capture of large parts of the state by those state-funded NGOs who concern themselves with “equality” and “diversity” and “inclusion” is such that in many areas of policy, even their wackiest recommendations are treated as if they were carved on granite atop Mount Sinai. Much of this stuff is simply nodded through on the default assumption by those in power that if an LGBT NGO says it advances equality and inclusion, well, who is anyone to question that?
This is, in many ways, the default setting of Ireland’s establishment: The very worst thing you can be in Ireland is a homophobe, followed closely by being considered to have any kind of “bigoted” instincts at all. It must be a lonely place, sitting in a meeting with TENI or BeLongTo, and wondering what everyone in the room will think of you if you speak up and say “parts of this make me uncomfortable”.
If you are pursuing a career in official Ireland, it is objectively safer to nod through a book telling children how to perform blowjobs than it is to ask awkward questions and risk being thought a bit of a homophobe, or worse, a prude. It’s the culture of fear in action: The same culture of fear that makes people in multinational companies wear their rainbow badges for pride week, and the same culture of fear that has GAA clubs and schools frantically trying to source the latest version of the pride flag lest they offend somebody by flying the wrong one. Much of this stuff is not a show of genuine commitment to the cause, but the modern equivalent of paying protection money: We flew the flag, you can’t question our inclusivity.
There’s a notion on the Irish right, or what passes for it, that much of what we might term “woke” culture is embraced by the Government out of a genuine belief in a “great replacement” of Irish people, or whatever. That is not, to my mind, true: There are, certainly, woke warriors in the Irish parliament and in the Governing parties, but the truth is more sinister – a huge chunk of Irish politicians are terrified of these people. Terrified of being called racist, or homophobic, or misogynist, or even just plain old backwards. Certain that when those slurs come their way, the media will not rush to their defence. Certain that the easiest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut, and sure, most people don’t care anyway.
That is why it is so interesting, to my mind, that much of the pushback on this stuff is coming from the ground up, and catching politicians by surprise. In their world, nobody would ever even consider criticising a book by a renowned LGBT author. When an LGBT author writes a new book, the safe thing to do is to praise the book, and maybe give it an award, even if you have never read it.
This is cultural tyranny in action. It is encouraging, therefore, to see that the public is beginning to push back, where our governing class is terrified to do so.