Sometimes you learn more about a social problem from a work of fiction than from a fact-based report. Psychologically, a movie or a novel can often illuminate a situation very vividly.
And the film Goodfellas explained, to me, more about the attractions of crime for some youngsters than any amount of sociological studies. When life is tough, even drab, life as a big shot in the crime world can seem incredibly glamorous.
This was also articulated vividly by a listener to the Ryan Tubridy Show who sent an email about her current experiences in a small Irish town: “When small-time community drug-dealers show off their fast cars, their three-month holiday photos on Facebook and their fancy clothing, it creates admiration among youths; they aspire to be like the drug dealer, to get to the top and to be the new kingpin,” she wrote.
“Just two weeks ago, we had good weather and four young men in a jeep with a trailer carrying jet skis on it passed by me and others outside a pub. They waved at the local lads, none of whom have a job. These are the kind of guys our young people are looking up to get their needs met.”
The honest truth is that crime can often seem an attractive career choice. After a lifetime’s experience as a barrister, always defending rather than prosecuting, the late John Mortimer (author of Rumpole) said that the most frequent reason for a young man turning to crime was “excitement”. “Even being a burglar is tremendously exciting,” he said.
I still think the Church should weigh in a little more convincingly about the morality of crime – and teach right from wrong with clarity and confidence. No doubt deprivation and poverty do play a role in criminal lives (as is also illustrated by Goodfellas), but the Ten Commandments are quite unambiguously against stealing, coveting and killing.
Are bank holidays meaningless?
The weather and climate specialist at The Times of London, Paul Simons – considered to be an authority on his subject – has suggested that the two May bank holidays should be scrapped as failed experiments, because May is, statistically, an unreliable month for weather.
The first Monday in May is replacing the Continental ‘Workers Day’ of May 1, and the last Monday in May replaces Whitsun, or Pentecost, now disappeared from secular consciousness. Both, he argues, are meaningless in today’s society.
He has a point, and it’s a pity that bank holidays so seldom now have any connection to anything more meaningful than a ‘bank’. However, while Ireland was summery last Monday: in England it was more like February…
Media silence on drop in abortions
For the 14th consecutive year, the number of Irishwomen travelling to Britain for abortions has fallen. In 2001, the number stood at 6,673. Last year it was 3,451.
You would think that this continual trend downwards should be a cause for general approval. After all, for decades, even pro-choice advocates have stated that they don’t actually want women to have abortions. Abortion has been called a regrettable “last resort” that no one would actually wish for.
But the news about these statistics was nowhere in the mainstream media, seen as a trend to be welcomed.
(Mainstream electronic media virtually withholds any trends that might seem anti-abortion. If you Google “abortion statistics for Ireland”, the information given is all controlled by the Family Planning Association and Brooks, a birth control provider. There is also blatant – and outdated – misinformation about Irish abortion statistics.)
The only commentary that I saw in the mainstream media was speculation about whether women are now accessing termination of pregnancy drugs via the internet.
Anything is possible. But it’s also possible – even probable - that these statistics mean that more women are either having their babies, or choosing to use fertility control responsibly. Or empowering themselves by not entering a physical relationship until marriage and commitment.
However, I am coming to the view that the pro-choice lobbyists don’t like to see the numbers falling. Abortion is their ‘brand’, and they seem to like to flag up the numbers. If they thought otherwise, they would surely welcome the fact that, year on year, the numbers are evidently falling.