I once was refused an interview by a man. Not a unique experience for me, but the reason given was: the potential interviewee didn’t like my father. My father was dead at this time, as were a number of his brothers, whom the man didn’t like either. So no interview. At the time I was wide-eyed with confusion. Why was this man blaming me for the actions of my now-dead relatives? It flew in the face of reason.
Now I’m older and wiser, I see it’s not an uncommon stance. For example, if your wife is a Catholic, you can’t join the Orange Order. No, sorry – it doesn’t matter how many Catholic churches you’ve urinated against, you still can’t become an Orangeman. Because of your wife. And now, bringing us bang up to date, I read in this morning’s Belfast Telegraph that a woman called Tina McKenzie is being required to sign a non-violence declaration before she can attend an event for parties involved in the European and local elections next month. Tina is standing for NI21; the reason she’s being asked to declare in writing her commitment to non-violence is that her father, Harry Fitzsimmons, was involved in an IRA bombing in 1971. That was shortly before Tina was born. See what they did there? They had guilt seep not just from one person to another but from one person into the womb and then into the embryo that was Tina. The sins of the father will be visited on the child, even if that child was -4 months of age at the time.
Since it defies reason, it’s sort of hard to grasp the thinking behind this insistence. The best guess I can make is that the people objecting to a Catholic-wifed applicant to the Orange Order or the not-signed-on-dotted-line candidate have a holier-than-thou view of others. By rejecting people, or submitting them to a written test of character, they’re essentially saying “We’re decent people but you need to prove to us that you are decent. Until you do so we’ll assume otherwise”.
Is this arrogant? You betcha. Is this stupid? Very. Is this hypocritical? I should say so. Take a final example. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are (again) being accused of telling lies about their IRA past. Leave aside what I’d consider the fairly important fact that they’ve never made any secret of their support for the IRA. The people interrogating them want to know: are they telling lies? Well, either they are or they aren’t. If they aren’t, then accusing them is a waste of time. If they are…why, then that means, shockingly, they are. Haven’t they read their catechism? I have, years ago. Q: Is it ever permissible to tell a lie? A: No, for no reason or motive can excuse a lie. That’s why I personally have gone through life never telling a lie. About anything. To anyone. Ever. And I expect you’re the same. If either of us was up in court for something and our lawyer urged us to plead not guilty, if we’d done whatever it was, we’d look the judge in the eye and declare “Guilty as charged!”. Because no reason or motive, etc.
The thing to keep in mind, you see, is, those accusing Messrs Adams and McGuinness have never lied themselves. So they peer down from a higher moral plane. And from this up-above place they are shocked to the core of their souls at the thought that these two politicians might have told a lie. Might. Or might not. Because, as they’ll tell you themselves, they have never told a lie. Not once. Ever. Regardless of motive or reason. In or out of court.
Yes, Virginia, I know there’s an election coming up. What’s that got to do with it?