Caoimhin O’Muraile ☭ Recent results from the 2021 census show that for the first time in the six county statelet of “Northern Ireland” Roman Catholic people outnumber those of the Protestant and kindred denominations. 

Many of those who consider themselves Protestant are ageing more so than their Catholic counterparts as religion does not appear to resonate so much with younger people. Perhaps they have more sense. Does this mean a border poll is now an inevitability? In four words, no it does not! 

Many republicans and nationalists see these figures as a sign that puts insurmountable pressure on the British Secretary of State for “Northern Ireland” to hold the often asked for border poll. This is not necessarily the case. Under the terms of the much-lauded Good Friday Agreement which recognises:

the right of the people of the island of Ireland to bring about a united Ireland, subject to the consent of both parts. Therefore, in order for Irish unification to take place, border polls must be held in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

This is easier said than done because in the twenty-six counties the rules pertaining to constitutional change differ from those in the six counties as part of the UK. Firstly, in the twenty-six counties, if there should be a border poll, and should that poll go in favour of unification, it would mean constitutional change, since the changes made to articles 2+3 back in 1998 to accommodate the Good Friday Agreement may have to be changed again. There would then have to be a referendum in the twenty-six counties on changes to the constitution. 

The “Republic of Ireland” has a written or codified constitution, whereas the United Kingdom, including “Northern Ireland” have an unwritten or uncodified variant dating back to the Magna Carte 1215 and as recently as the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 are included as Acts within this uncodified constitution. The UK would therefore not need any referendum on constitutional change. This then makes it difficult for the border poll, should there be one, to run concurrently in the two jurisdictions and certainly the results, should they be in favour of unification, to be implemented in parallel. Then we have the added problem if the result in the twenty-six counties favours unification and, in the six counties are against what then? Which result takes preference? Is it a majority of the whole country, in which case the twenty-six counties vote would carry. Or, on the other hand, does the vote of the people in the six counties supersede the rest of the country? There is no clarity in the Good Friday agreement on this important issue, something which should have been clearly clarified to avoid the inevitable confusion should such a situation arise.

The Good Friday Agreement states “that consent for a united Ireland must be freely and concurrently given in both the North and South of the island of Ireland.” This is widely interpreted depending who is interpreting, to mean that a future border poll must be held in the six and twenty-six county states at the same time, to run concurrently. That would amount to an all-Ireland poll so, in that case, surely the result should be counted on an all-Ireland basis.? Nothing so simple, it will not run that way. There should be no problem running the border poll in both jurisdictions concurrently, but it is after that the problems arise. The two jurisdictions have different rules of administration to allow for results of the border polls to be implemented concurrently. For example, if the vote goes in favour of unification in both jurisdictions, which will then be one entity, they cannot be implemented at the same time because a referendum will be needed in the twenty-six counties and not in the six counties unless the two are immediately recognised as one unit. That cannot happen either because articles 2+3 would need reverting back to their original form, pre-1998, and that would take another referendum in the twenty-six counties! All complex stuff but relevant all the same.

Secondly and very importantly the GFA states that:

if at any time it appears to him (the Secretary of State) that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland the Secretary of State shall make an order in Council enabling a border poll.

It is very unclear and therefore ambiguous as to what precisely would satisfy “him” of this requirement, plus that would mean a border poll in the six counties only, which is not consistent with “consent on both parts” of the island. The GFA suggests that a constituent majority in opinion polls, a Catholic majority in a census, a nationalist majority in the “Northern Ireland” Assembly, or a vote by a majority in the Assembly could be considered evidence of a majority support for a united Ireland. However, the final decision rests with the Secretary of State only and thereby hangs the problem. It is my understanding no machinery exists to force the Secretary of State to explain his/her reasons behind their decision. Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly for unification, they could still refuse a border poll without having to explain themselves as it is solely at their discretion. There is no clarification, just suggestions of what would satisfy the meaning of this majority of people, as briefly outlined above, what criteria should be used?

For the first time in the 101year history of the six county statelet Roman Catholics now outnumber those of a Protestant and kindred denomination, the unionist’s worst nightmare. The result of the 2021 census were 45 percent Roman Catholic with 43 percent of people who claim to be of the Protestant or kindred denomination. The rest make up no religion or other, such as Judea, Islam etc. Therefore, if the criteria for a border poll is based on religious denominational numerical superiority of those who may vote in favour of unification, then that would appear to have been reached and that is assuming all Protestants are unionists, which they are not, and all Catholics are for unification. 

The question is would the Secretary of State be satisfied with these figures? If the criteria used by the Secretary of State is a nationalist or unionist majority in the Stormont Assembly then that is a little more complex, depending on who is considered a nationalist and therefore likely to favour unification, or unionist likely to oppose such unity. Of the 90 MLAs the DUP and Sinn Fein have 26 (27 for SF if the non-voting speaker, Alex Maskey, is included) members each with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) having 12 members and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) having 10 members. This amounts to a nationalist majority of two at this stage. However, add to this the one member of the Traditionalist Unionist Voice (TUV) and that slender majority is reduced to one, but, if People Before Profit (PBP) are considered a pro-unity party, then their one member restores the balance to a majority of two. Then we must factor in the Independent Unionists' three members which changes the landscape yet again, giving the unionists a majority of one. This is because PBP are designated as “other” meaning neither nationalist nor unionist, but in real life they are likely to vote for unification. It was always the policy of the Socialist Workers Party, the parent of PBP (arguably one and the same), to support a united Ireland. The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, also considered “other” could well hold the balance in the Assembly with their seven seats. They claim to be neither nationalist or unionist but are considered closet unionists by nationalists and closet nationalists by unionists, all very confusing. Their seven votes in the Assembly will in all likelihood, should the MLA numbers be the criteria used by the Secretary of State, be crucial.

Do religious denominational status translate into political and constitutional preferences? In the six countries those who identify themselves as British stands at 31.9 percent, down from 40 percent a decade ago. Those who identify themselves as Irish stands at 29.1 percent, up from 24 percent ten years ago. This still gives the pro-British side a small majority, however should this trend continue, that 29.1 percent could soon become a significant majority for unification. The group who would have the deciding factor in such a border poll are those who consider themselves “Northern Irish,” neither British nor Irish which stands at 19.8 percent. It is unclear how these people, probably Alliance Party voters, would vote in any border poll. Their participation and voting preferences in such a poll would be very significant. The Alliance voters may be split on the national question and in that case the faction with the most, pro-union or pro-nationalist, may carry the day in a border poll, which would be decided in the six counties on a simple majority basis. The basic problem is in the wording of the GFA, “if at any time it appears to him” that a majority of people may prefer a united Ireland. This is something which may never “appear to him” who may, as the representative of the British Government, also have a hidden agenda for the continuation of partition, and we would be waiting for hell to freeze over before we get a border poll.

Of course, the Secretary of State for “Northern Ireland” could ignore both the census results of 2021 and the make-up of the Northern Ireland Assembly, or indeed the preferences for or against union with Britain. He could, despite evidence to the contrary, still say in his/her opinion that they do not feel a referendum to be necessary or warranted even if it is plain a majority may favour Irish unity. They would not have to give a reason, though at this moment in time and given the 29 percent for unification against the 31 percent who consider themselves British the Secretary of State may hold his opinion based on these figures. He/she will not perhaps be able to hide behind these statistics for much longer. It is these contradictions and lack of clarity which should have been ironed out by Sinn Fein in particular during in the negotiations before any consideration about signing the GFA could be given. They were not and these are the problems which may arise as the push by Sinn Fein for a border poll will now increase, or certainly should.

Then we have the unofficial reasons for not holding a border poll, especially if it is feared the vote might go in favour of unification. A united neutral Ireland would not be in NATOs interests and, more importantly, the United States the real power behind the Atlantic alliance. The British Army of occupation in the six counties are also NATO troops, perhaps the second powerful after the USA. The deep-water ports around the six-county coast are very important to NATO and the British Army are custodians of these. Of course, this could never be cited as a reason for not holding a border poll, that would never do, therefore the Secretary of State would just stick to their right of denying such a poll, as it does not “appear to him a majority would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the UK.” This does not have to be true. If on the other hand the twenty-six County Defence Forces were to join NATO that would cast a different light on the situation. It would be them, not the British, as custodians of the deep-water ports where responsibility may fall. This is not to suggest for one moment that the twenty-six County Defence Forces become members of NATO, definitely not, but it could be used as a carrot by the British in exchange for a border poll. Would there have to be a referendum in the twenty-six counties on NATO membership? Is defence a constitutional issue? I don’t think it is or can find no direct reference to it. Could, therefore, the Government of the twenty-six counties who appear hell bent on joining NATO also use the unification argument as a carrot to sell NATO membership to the population?

As a socialist republican I strongly favour Irish unification as the British have no right, and never have had, to dictate terms and policies on any part of the island of Ireland. That said, and given where we are at, I can see the complications involved and they lay at the feet of those who signed the GFA without clarification on a number of issues. We should not run around with the notion that the figures released make a border poll inevitable, because they do not!

A point of observation – what I have, perhaps cynically noticed is the Taoiseach ranting on and on about the evils of Russia in the Ukraine. Whether his overplaying of the situation 6,000 miles away is right or wrong they could, to a cynic, be a means of avoiding talking about the changing demographics in the six counties. While he is talking about Russia, he does not have to address the subject of a border poll, or any other important issues a little nearer home, like Ireland!! A cynical view? Probably, experiences in life tend to make me that way.
 
Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

Is A Border Poll Inevitable In The Six Counties?

Catherine McGinty“Put yourself in my mammy’s shoes. Can you imagine the sheer terror a person with dementia would experience being left in a strange house, with people they did not know, with no explanation of why or for how long?"

These were the words of the daughter of a woman with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease who described as “completely terrifying” the instant she realised her extremely vulnerable mother was missing.

When her mother did not return home from MellowDEEDS in the Old Library Trust, Healthy Living Centre in Creggan at the usual time, her daughter rang the group to check if everything was okay.

MellowDEEDS is an integrated choir comprising people living with dementia and DEEDS (Dementia Engaged and Empowered in Derry and Strabane) staff and volunteers.

Speaking to Derry Now, the daughter, who wished to remain anonymous to preserve her mother’s confidentiality, said she was told her mother had left the centre an hour and a half previously in a taxi arranged by the Old Library Trust.

At that instant, my heart froze,” she said.

I felt sick with fear. I did not know where my elderly mother was and the group into whose care I had entrusted her did not know either.

Continue reading @ Derry Now.

Vulnerable Alzheimer's Patient Left At Wrong House

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Twenty Eight

 

A Morning Thought @ 1563

Michael Praetorius ✒ with the sixth act in his satirical series.

Revelation No. 9

The sea was like a sheet of glass at Benderg this morning. Everything still. Sitting there, without a sound, alone in what appears to be a vast peaceful cosmos, I am, of course, still at two with nature. Brazenly, I contemplate the big questions:

why are we here ... ? Nobody knows;

how should we live ... ? Nobody knows;

why is there something rather than nothing ... ? Nobody knows;

what is 'reality' ... ? Nobody knows;

is our universe 'real' ... ? Nobody knows;

do we have free will ... ? Nobody knows;

is there life after death ...? Nobody knows;

can we really experience anything objectively ... ? Nobody knows;

what is the best 'moral' system ... ? Nobody knows;

what are numbers ... ? Nobody knows;

does God exist ... ? No; don't be daft.

Job done, I then call to Miss Lotte Lenya, go back home, and give her breakfast.

Consanguinity: the Kilclief model; an evolutionary anthropological perspective

1) We move to Amityville

One day, long ago, Donnelly snuck his acoustic guitar into St Colman's. We had a couple of free periods and were in the library. I was attempting Bob Dylan's take on Bukka White's Fixin' To Die, when Father Reid walked in.

Praetorius, he proclaimed, that racket is an abomination, a heinous assault on the ears.

And he sent Donnelly and I to the Dean's Office, where we both got six of the best.

Well, he's probably dead now, so it's a bit late, but here's a kick in the goolies for Reid and all the other naysayers and begrudgers who have perennially rubbished my ... er ... plinking and plonking, and ridiculed my chances of making the big time.

First there was Magherafelt. If you've been reading this column, you'll know that gig was rudely interrupted by a manic street preacher, and culminated in an indecorous public commotion. Nevertheless, it marked the start of something great.

For lo and behold, word gets around, and the only way is up ... I have just been booked to play at the big Family Fun Day in Kilclief ... !! Could be 30 or 40 people there.

On signing up, I immediately told the organiser that I'd like to donate my fee back to the organisers, the Harmony Community Trust.

Well, you could if there was a fee, she replied, but there isn't.

No expenses either, she added.

2) The horror

Tragically, my gig as musicianor at the big Fun Day in Kilclief has been scuttled. After a recent ruckus, I got a note from somebody saying, Toe the line or blow. And that was all she wrote.

Given half a chance, I'd have grabbed a handle off the top to score a bit of the old Lido Shuffle. But then I thought of Miss Lotte Lenya. The whole thing had kicked off because I’d been walking her in the surrounding fields, as dog walkers do. But, according to Kilclief ruling clan's Warrior Queen, Ginny O’ Fafia, Lotte’s shite.

So instead, I quoted a chunk of T S Eliot's The Hollow Men on a Facebook Stoic group of which I'm a member, claiming I'd written it myself. Then I attributed a snatch of Bob Dylan lyric to Oscar Wilde. Not one person called me out or corrected me for either faux pas. Rather, they went on quoting Marcus Aurelius to corroborate their posts of greeting-card-level profundity. What on earth do they teach them in school nowadays ... ?!? 

[The Kilclief O’Fafia mafia are an interesting study in what Elvis called Kissing Cousins, insofar as they’re living proof that keeping it in the family won’t engender an Earl Scruggs, but, instead, just a rain parade of warped, sly, vacant dullards. And, as with rats and insects, their sheer numbers trump wit ... ]

3) Transportation

When I was being given the bum's rush out of Kilclief the other day, by local ruling clan the O'Fafia mafia, a rainbow appeared. I got out of the car to admire it, but the head of the clan saw me and shouted, Keep goin’, yuh filthy tramp, we don't want stinkin' Gypsies 'round here ... !

She would have said more, but was already late for Mass.

Humbled, I jumped back in the car and left. But when I arrived back home in Armagh a rainbow appeared too ... !

Now for the spooky bit. I leapt out to have a good look. And, lo and behold, it was unmistakably the very same rainbow I had seen two hours previously when being kicked out of Kilclief ... ! These are the days of miracles and rainbows ...

Still in the game

Way back when I began cycling, it was just for fitness. Head down, same route, same distance, every time. Boring. Boys, was I missing out ... !

This morning I whizzed down the Shore Road. What a day to be alive and out on the road. Sky of blue, sea of green, I sang, God bless me, but not the late Queen ...

Because now I use these spins not for exercise, but to meet random chicks along the way ... ! And for that reason, I always carry 5 or 6 condoms in my little saddle bag.

Person of colour ballad

Shocking news here. My application to join the Armagh County Gentleman's Club has been declined. I had thought my election was a formality for the simple reason that I meet, and exceed even, what I assume to be the quintessential membership criterion.

Which is: I have nothing but supreme contempt for the common man of today - a moronic rabble of gum-chewing, unread, uninformed, celebrity-worshipping, idolatrous, sponging, tasteless, phone-wielding, porn-addicted, workshy, whinging, loud, bumptious, drunken, loutish, bearded, baseball-cap wearing, gormless self-abusers.

An explanation for my blackballing has not been given. I can't help but wonder if Jean, because she is a Protestant, slipped a heads-up to the Honorary Secretary that I am, though lapsed, a Taig. There may be sectarians there for all I know. If so, I was willing to overlook their need for a German Royal Family, and their heathen, sinfully misguided attachment to that odorous Protestant religion. But, as they wish ...

Bringing it all back home

Saturday last I was talking to two women, on holiday here, from Pennsylvania.

What kind of music is that you're playing? one asked, quite genuinely.

Well, you should know ... ! I replied.

Which she didn't. As I rhymed off the names of my heroes, neither woman gave any sign of ever having heard of them.

Goodness, I said, if I lived in the United States I'd make a pilgrimage every year to the grave of John Hurt in Avalon, Mississippi to pay homage to my main man ...

Some confusion occurred at this point as they mixed up the doyen of Piedmont style picking with that guy who had the baby monster in Alien. I explained.

Oh, we've never been down to the South, said one of them.

What about Chicago, I asked, to check out the joints where king of the red hot slide guitar Mr Elmore James used to blast it out ... ?

No, they replied.

In one sense I'm envious: I mean, if only I could live in Ireland and never hear Christy Moore, Mary Black, Sharon bloody Shannon, and the rest of that dreary, wet rag, music mafia ...

Just like Tom Thumb’s blues

As if it's not bad enough that Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is now on the wrong side of the grass, eh ... ? Even more tragically though, today I was kicked out of my favourite Facebook group - Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kafka, Existentialism, and Absurdism. [You'll notice I used the Oxford comma there, Therese Coffey.]

Look at the name of that group again. It has everything you need for a mature, sensible take on human existence. Kierkegaard, a basket case besotted with anxiety and despair; Dostoevsky, riddled with religious angst, and terribly afraid there may not be any real way to ultimately recompense the suffering of mankind; Nietzsche, the fruitcake Superman who understood that no absolute values exist, but lived with his mammy anyway; Kafka, continually tormented between the castle up above and the powers below, torn between hope and doubt; Existentialism and Absurdism, not only is everything desperately senseless and empty, but it's ludicrous as well.

Wow! What's not to like in all that ... ? Compelling reasons to get out of bed in the morning, knacker yourself trying to be something or somebody, all the while knowing that, for all the difference that'll make, you might as well have stayed in bed being pretty vacant.

Anyway, why did they blackball me ... ? Merely because I pointed out to some little woke freak that, while J K Rowling and Germaine Greer are women, Castor Semenya and Emily Bridges are men.

So the championess of diversity, who knows that free speech comes with a responsibility to toe her line, reported me to the Admins. The axe just fell.

A consolation though. Managed to get one last piece posted on the site. A perfect synthesis and elucidation (even if I say so myself) of the thinking behind above philosophers and their philosophies. In a poem. I said it was written by Aldous Huxley. Nobody challenged me on that either.


I'm beautiful, you're too beautiful,

and we can't get over it.

My my, I'm beautiful, you're so beautiful,

and we can't get over it.

I'm going down, all going down;

dragging you down, can't get over it.


Cut off my nose to spite my face,

sell my soul to buy me grace.

Or should I laugh or should I cry?

Or shall I part my hair behind?

Or should I laugh or should I cry,

as I become all I despise?


Got to get ahead, got to get ahead;

couldn't get ahead, couldn't get over it.


Call me Mr Malcontent ...


I live with a Protestant

Jean went to London. Camped out in a little solo pop-up tent, somewhere near Lambeth Bridge. She had a yellow wristband, so didn’t lose her place in the queue if caught short by a mad rush for the bogs.

She was furious when I said I couldn't travel across with her.

You are such a bloody Fenian! she snapped.

I tried to explain.

That has nothing to do with it, I said, you know as well as I do we can't get RTÉ Player, and that the Fair City Omnibus is on RTÉ1 every Saturday morning, so I simply daren't miss it.

Once a bigot, always a bigot! Jean said.

On another occasion, I chanced to remark, D H Lawrence was quite correct.

What ... to write dirty books? she replied.

To be fair, that's the kind of lowbrow response I've come to expect from her. Protestants are, after all, genetically predisposed to be unread Philistines, just as the GAA crowd are, inevitably, unreconstructable bogtrotting culchies.

No, I'd been alluding to Lawrence's remark that even though people have more and more now, they no longer know how to feel alive in their lives. My point being that he actually stole the idea from me. All my life, if ever asked where I live, I've always replied, I live here, but I don't really live anywhere.

Deep.

He was dead before you were born, said Jean.

That's not the point, I said.

The Queen: my part in her rehabilitation after Martin McGuinness allowed her to shake his hand

In my life - career, entertaining, and charity work - I was privileged not to meet the Queen on many occasions, and always found her to be the gracious epitome of someone I wouldn't have wanted to meet anyway, since the notion, so beloved of her proud 'subjects', that an accident of birth confers an innate superiority on someone, is strictly for the ninnyhammer forelock-tuggers and brown-nosers.

Nevertheless, her path and mine crossed a few times, with seismic consequences. Most notably when I was offered a 'gong'. Not many people remember this, but as a librarian I disseminated a lot of information. In fact, twice running, I ended up at no. 1 in the UK Librarys' Bulk Disseminator of Information of the Year chart. And that's a dump truck load of data distribution by anyone's standards.

Anyway, the Boss calls me in one day.

Stop dispersing facts for a minute there, Michael, he says, and listen to this. The Palace wants to give you an MBE ... ! Services to Information Dissemination ...

Well, you could have knocked me over with a copy of Walford and Winchell's Bibliography of Bibliographies ... !

But I told him it just wasn't on, and admitted that my preference would be that all Royalists, as they used to say during the French Revolution, should be invited to put their heads out of the Republican window.

And anyway, I added, MBEs are for proles. I'd have needed a Knighthood at least ...

I was joking, like, but wouldn't you know, a couple of days later he interrupted my diffusion of knowledge again.

They've upped it to a Peerage ... ! he said ... Phil the Greek's buzzword around the Palace this year is 'communication', and he's heard you're the big knob in that department. Plus, they'll throw in a ton of bits and bobs, like jam and so on, from the Duchy of Cornwall, lifetime supply. It's first rate stuff, apparently ...

I'd tried the marmalade. Tasty, but overpriced.

It'd be grand publicity for us too, the Boss said, Michael Praetorius, Lord of the Low-down. Could help make libraries seem a bit less spinster-with-a-bun-type places ... Think it over, while you're dissipating the word to our punters ...

Anthony Blunt (not yet unmasked as a Soviet spy) was Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures and Curator of the Royal Libraries at that time. She asked him to talk me round, librarian to librarian, like. He telephoned one evening, and, true to form, never mentioned libraries or gongs, but instead made a pretty good case for believing that we'll only be truly free when the last king is strangled by the entrails of the last priest.

I signed up, became a poputchik (fellow traveller) overnight, and soon the Ivans had an inside track on the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Library of Congress Classification, and Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. At last Soviet libraries knew in what order to shelve books so as they might be found again, and soon there were as many queues outside libraries as at supermarkets, hospitals, sweet shops, schools, lavatories, and so on. Putin's doing the same right now to restructure libraries in occupied Ukraine, so it's not all bad news from that quarter, by any means.

Blunt, like his chum, Kim Philby - then safely holed up in a lavish, tiny, unheated bedsit in Moscow - was keen on marmalade. He gave me a heads-up that night about a new variation on an old theme. A Pinko pal on the shop floor at Frank Cooper's in Oxford had let slip the news that they were about to target the hard-core marmalade zombies with a new extra Coarse Cut version of their Vintage brand.

So, says the Boss a few days later, what do I tell the Palace ... ?

Can't afford to do it, Boss, I told him. He was shocked, angry.

I tried to explain. Man of principle, me. Uncle Joe maybe a trifle vindictive. But Khrushchev a decent spud. Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, first woman in space. Women’s lib. Meanwhile, Robert Emmet; heart in the right place, but fail to prepare, prepare to fail. And ok, Padraig Pearse, bit of a mental defective, but James Connolly, a top man, genuinely worthy of a seat in the Lords, even though he'd have quite happily blown the bloody place up.

You're a Red, he gasped, wrapped in the Green Flag ... !
 
I was toast.

The blows fell in quick succession. Only 52, but enforced early retirement, generous lump sum, adequate pension. Cushy number, actually.

So I owe Brenda and Phil the Greek big time.

And that Extra Coarse Cut ... ? The best.

It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry

We went to the QFT by train. On the platform at Portadown I said to Jean,

We should go right to the front of the train for seats ... that way when we leave Gt Victoria Street we'll actually be at the back of the train, which is perfect for Botanic Station since the exit there is exactly where the rear of the train stops.

Ok, she said.

As we were boarding at platform 3 the Dublin Enterprise express pulled in at platform 1.

Did you notice, I asked Jean, the Enterprise had nine coaches there rather than the usual eight?

No, she said.

Anyway, I said as we left Portadown, remember that it's Sunday, so don't be surprised when we pull in at platform 3 in Gt Victoria Street, rather than platform 4, which is where Bangor bound trains usually halt.

I won't be, she said.

That's because, I added, there are fewer trains on Sunday so Bangor bound ones can use 3 but during the week and on Saturdays it's reserved for Portadown and Newry bound trains, and the slightly shorter platform 4 is brought into service for Bangor traffic.

Ok, she said.

And naturally, I said, on the way home we'll board right at the back in Botanic and so be at the front when we leave Gt Victoria Street, which will mean we'll get off right beside the exit in Portadown.

Naturally, said Jean.

Michael Praetorius spent his working life in education and libraries. Now retired, he does a little busking in Belfast . . . when he can get a pitch. He is TPQ's fortnightly Wednesday columnist.

Joy And Fun Are Fucking Killing Me ✑ Act Ⅵ

Merrion Press 🔖is on the cusp of publishing a new book by Siobhán Doyle.

COMING SOON

A History of the GAA in 100 Objects
Siobhán Doyle

The Gaelic Athletic Association is a huge part of the Irish consciousness and plays an influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the sports. In popular imagination and experience, the GAA is often evoked in terms of its objects: medals passed down from generation to generation, jerseys worn in All Ireland finals, Michael Cusack’s blackthorn stick, a pair of glasses damaged during the events of Bloody Sunday.

This fascinating book offers a new perspective on the GAA by assembling a range of objects from every county in Ireland, as well as overseas, to present a chronological history of the GAA that also functions as a social history of the people who have been involved in it.

From a fifteenth-century horsehair sliotar to a tweed camogie dress, Trevor Giles’s sleeveless jersey and Brian Cody’s baseball cap, all corners of the GAA world, personal and official, are explored and celebrated in A History of the GAA in 100 Objects.

Hardback • €24.95 | £22.99 •  240 pages •  220 mm x 180 mm • 9781785374258

On Sale 4 October 2022
€24.95 | £22.99



Siobhán Doyle is a cultural historian and works in the National Museum of Ireland. She holds a PhD in Museum Studies from Technological University Dublin and has lectured in Design History. Siobhán is from Co. Wexford and has studied and worked in museums in Dublin for ten years. Her research focuses on modern Irish history and this is her first book.

📑 View Merrion Press New Title Catalogue

Coming Soon 📚 Siobhán Doyle

 

A Morning Thought @ 1562

Stanley Cohentakes Twitter to task for its persistent erosion of free speech and its decision to ban him from the platform.

16-September-2022
The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth … If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. The theory of our Constitution is that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market . . . The First Amendment itself ensures the right to respond to speech we do not like, and for good reason. Freedom of speech and thought flows not from the beneficence of the state but from the inalienable rights of the person … Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse.”– United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709, 724 (2012).

With these words, the Supreme Court echoed an aged but essential ideal . . . a timeless reminder to censors everywhere be they the algorithm muzzle of trendy social platforms, arid academic institutions, or poising political pens that the voice of freedom demands more than pious inapt platitudes. It mandates an unfettered even clashing marketplace of ideas.

Although preached worldwide by pariahs for time immemorial, in its most recent historical iteration the marketplace of ideas traces back hundreds of years to the quills of John Milton and John Stuart Mill and is bottomed fundamentally on the premise that the free dissemination of ideas creates an essential social process where truth competes and will eventually win out over falsehood, if only left to its unbridled natural device. It is this air of fact over fiction; of surety over sophism; of particulars over proselytism that threatens the status quo ante of the privileged that maintain power no matter what its price against those that fight to rid themselves of that very occupation of narrative, be it physical or one of ideas.

The move from the abstract philosophical debate in the United States to practical First Amendment application finds its genesis in the dissenting opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Abrams et. al v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919) an early case in which a constitutional challenge was raised to the conviction of anti-war dissidents under the Espionage Act for distributing leaflets calling for a strike at U.S. munitions plants. In finding such acts to be protected political speech enshrined under First Amendment jurisprudence, Holmes noted “that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

Challenged by the test of time and petty political posture to be sure, the marketplace of ideas has only grown in ardor and reach since Abrams. As reaffirmed most recently in City of Austin v. Reagan Nat’l Adver. Of Austin , LLC, 142 S. Ct. 1464 (2022) “[t]he First Amendment helps to safeguard what Justice Holmes described as a marketplace of ideas . . . A democratic people must be able to freely generate, debate, and discuss both general and specific ideas, hopes, and experiences.” Some twenty years earlier in Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343,358 (2003) the Supreme Court opined that “[t]he hallmark of the protection of free speech is to allow ‘free trade in ideas’ — even ideas that the overwhelming majority of people might find distasteful or discomforting.”

It is clear the dissent in Abrams is no longer a marginal voice in the wilderness looking for welcome for it has evolved to become the linchpin upon which speech–even painful, hurtful and disturbing speech– remains protected under now well-settled constitutional norms. Be it the obscenity of the Klan and neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, the rancid screed of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottsville or “death to Arabs” heard not just in the weekly Zionist pogroms in occupied Jerusalem, but from the thoughts, if not prayers, of its fanbase from coast to coast, these words may anger, they may hurt, they may intimidate but yet they are protected speech which play an essential role in the search for truth in the marketplace of ideas.

To be sure, the marketplace allegory is routinely used by the Supreme Court in the resolution of free-expression cases. Justices have used it to protect expression in virtually every area of First Amendment jurisprudence: prior restraint, libel, invasion of privacy, pornography access, advertising, picketing, expressive conduct, broadcasting, and cable regulation. The Court has repeatedly said the primary purpose of the First Amendment is to protect an uninhibited marketplace where differing ideas can clash. It is a fundamental rule of freedom, a bellwether of liberty, that Twitter in its ever-changing cherry-picks of good speech and bad, has not heard.

Social media was intended to unite the world in ways not known before: to move beyond the narrow artificial confines of state borders, banners and oaths to facilitate an exchange of ideas among a community of international strangers, but nonetheless a world of fellow travelers. Predictably, what began with the high hope of a legion of virtual street corner pamphleteers, has morphed to become another controlled megaphone of the rich, the powerful, the political class who sell costly shares in its commercial loudspeaker to the highest bidder, but yet the lowest of shareholder.

Over the years Twitter has grown from a platform of unbridled hope to orchestrated dictate as states have unleashed armies of paid trolls and bots to control the narrative. No one has spent more time or money in the effort to own the storyline than has Israel which has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into recasting its horrors and targeting those it sees as a threat to its tale of deadly fiction. It is clear I’ve become a favorite target of the Israeli/Zionist narrative with increasing complaints filed against me for nothing more than mere words. Be it a post of “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” from the famed musical The Producers, or another challenging the assertion that Judaism is a race, but wishing its author a good day at the tanning salon, on Twitter I have long used fact or sarcasm to challenge the palpably false sale of Israel as a democracy victimized by the world.

This past week I was permanently banned by Twitter for “hate speech” and “incitement to violence” without any example of where and when my words crossed that line. Twitter does not understand or simply refuses to accept a world where words, be they from the pen of the author to the book of their reader, are essential to the marketplace of ideas. It does not accept that one’s vision and voice is not a commodity to be owned by an algorithm be it a robot or private jet. Ideas are eternal. They bring friction, at times anguish, but ultimately no matter what their language they can bring boundless unity in a world of endless pain.

Twitter is a US-incorporated and US-based corporation. Unlike dozens of countries throughout the world, there is no “hate speech” or penalty for such within the United States. Though advocates of hate speech legislation have argued freedom of speech enhances an oppressive narrative disparaging equality and the Fourteenth Amendment’s purpose of ensuring equal protection under the law, it is an argument long in search of constitutional relevance.

From its earliest days the framers dispatched with little difficulty the notion of good speech and bad and rejected a test of ideas to be resolved through a balancing of the relative costs and benefits of a given declaration or debate. And though at times of great political tension or national peril, efforts have been made by some to tailor an otherwise unbridled pathway of words, the Constitution has held–foreclosing any effort to revise the First Amendment paradigm on the basis that some speech is simply unworthy of protection. More than 220 years ago the Supreme Court pronounced that the Constitution is not a mere abstract manuscript “prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 178 (1803).

Is speech absolute? No. Are there categories of expression that cross a very wide wall of shelter, along the way shedding First Amendment protection? Of course. For example… neither obscenity nor defamation; fraud nor actual incitement are protected speech. They represent “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem.” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 571-572 (1942).

Yet, there is no constitutional exception for so-called hate speech. That some, perhaps many, may find expressions of bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance or ideas to be vulgar, offensive, profane is of no constitutional moment whatsoever. The First Amendment permits speakers to utter racially charged and offensive words in public directed at minorities and political groups. Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949). It permits them to express “virulent ethnic and religious epithets.” United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990). It allows sponsors to exclude members of the LGBTQ community from marching in a private parade. Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, 515 U.S. 557 (1995). It allows me to wear a jacket in a public building that says “Fuck the Draft” [Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971)] or to burn the American flag in protest. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1990). It even tolerates a call for the overthrow of the United States government. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). The takeaway from these cases and many others is palpable and settled. Ultimately in a free society “[t]he right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is, therefore, one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes.” Terminiello, 337 U.S. at 4.

Lest there be any question about the continuing protection of so-called hate speech any such concern was resolved twenty years ago, in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minnesota, 505 U.S. 377 (1992). In R.A.V. the Supreme Court put to bed the notion that “hate speech” . . . words — actual or expressive– can, without more, be legislated against in almost all circumstances. R.A.V presented the high court with a particularly egregious challenge in that a group of white teenagers after a conversation fueled with racial hatred toward a Black family who had recently moved into the house across the street, made a cross and set it afire in the middle of the night on the lawn of their home. Later they burned another one on the street corner clearly visible from that home.

There could be no debate about the hate -filled motivation of the teens as historically, cross-burnings had been the trade-mark of the best-known hate group in America, the Ku Klux Klan, the penultimate white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, xenophobic organization which terrorized many communities by lynchings, murders and other acts of violence in the name of racial segregation. Arrested and convicted, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision overturned their conviction for a hate crime striking down an ordinance against speech that causes “anger, alarm, or resentment” based on race or religion. Noting that the teens could be convicted for offenses such as trespass or mischief, the Court made clear that the injuries of racist epithets and symbols does not outweigh the right to free speech. As noted, R.A.V is not an anomaly but reflects a long unbroken line of constitutional matters in which offensive even hateful speech has been deemed to be protected by the First Amendment. In case after case where the issue of hate speech has arisen, the Supreme Court has held that statutes penalizing such speech “must be interpreted with the commands of the First Amendment clearly in mind in order to distinguish true threats from constitutionally protected speech.” Perez v. Florida, 137 S. Ct. 853 (2017).

Ultimately that distinction, like Twitter’s mantra of incitement, turns on the speaker’s intent and the likelihood of result. One of the landmarks of American political liberty is the celebrated case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) which finds its genesis in the Holmes dissent in Abrams some fifty years earlier. Originally arising in the political hysteria of the First World War, with the prosecution of activists for sedition and espionage on the basis of speech for its “tendency and the intent behind it,” Brandenburg raised the bar to heights that remain no less strong or compelling today. Under Brandenburg:

the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

Brandenburg unmistakably insists that any limit on speech must be grounded in a realistic, factual assessment of harm. So, Twitter, tell me just what actual harm my decade on your platform has caused anyone. Where have my words these past ten years been directed to inciting imminent lawless action and such that they were likely to produce that result? Can it be using Twitter to share my numerous essays, opinion pieces and podcast interviews some of which, perhaps many, have caused unease or aggravated others? Or is it my public solidarity with oppressed peoples? Or my posts about the meaning and application of domestic and international law? Or my preach about the continuing injustice rained down by extant colonial projects on indigenous communities throughout the world? Or is it my expose on the American criminal justice system and its carceral state? Or has it been my challenge to a corrupt political process in the United States? Or my decades of representing political dissidents and movements and ideas throughout the world? Or my indictment of imperialist attacks and sanctions imposed upon states that say no to Western hegemony? Or my biting sarcasm that embarrasses cults of personality that are always the first to raise questions and challenge but last to provide seasoned consequential answers? Of course not.

Is it hateful or inciteful speech that brought me to address student bodies at Yale’s Divinity School and the law schools at Cornell and Pace; or involved me in the acclaimed international debates in Doha or Intelligence Squared in NYC; or had me lecture state and federal public defenders on criminal law; or selected me to serve as a mentor for young interns from top law schools throughout the country; or to appear dozens of times on live domestic or international televised forums discussing controversies of the day; or had me speak frequently at international conferences, or to advise foreign heads of state on legal issues and process; or has seen me regularly published in several languages in media outlets throughout the world; or had me designated as an expert on free speech by an administrative court in South Africa? Perhaps its decades of trying cases, writing briefs, and arguing appeals in state, federal, and international courts including the Supreme Court of the United States, six separate federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, the New York State High Court, the Hague, the ICC, and at INTERPOL that have left me woefully ill-equipped to convey the interest of clients or my own thoughts without digressing into so-called “hate speech” or “incitement to violence.” So just what is it that I did to invoke the wrath of the finely tuned, experienced, skilled censors of Twitter? In the first instance, I received a notice I was being blocked for a “hateful” post that said “death to Arabs,” death to Arabs,” and “death to Arabs.” Indeed, that was my post, but not my commentary.

Can it be the finely tuned sophisticated algorithms that flagged this tweet did not have the cognitive capacity to understand nuance or to juxtapose it to another’s the preceding tweet which, in essence, applauded Zionism and Israel as expressing the finest in the Jewish tradition of love and humanity? Is it possible the robot censor did not understand that my rejoinder was not of my own design but rather referred to that of Zionists chanting “death to Arabs,” death to Arabs,” “death to Arabs” during what has become their almost weekly pogrom in occupied Quds?

Full stop. Having filed my initial appeal pointing out the actual meaning and context of my “hateful” post, not long thereafter Twitter notified me that I was now blocked not on the basis of a single tweet but rather because of hateful and inciteful speech in general. In the days since I have filed several additional appeals requesting particularized examples to support this generic allegation that I am an inartful evil person, asking it to preserve related records and seeking the involvement of one of its attorneys. Twitter has gone silent not replying to any additional inquiries.

As the self-anointed protectorate of what it considers to be worthy values and speech as opposed to the unseemly, Twitter has long reserved unto itself the unitary power to impose sanctions for the daring of those who break with the arbitrary tenor and tone of its ever-changing “guidelines”. Putting aside for another day, but one surely yet to come, the constitutional question of whether and to what extent Twitter is mandated to comply with First Amendment edicts because it invites and serves as a public forum fulfilling a quasi-public function [Pruneyard Shopping Ctr. v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980)] nevertheless its subjective value-based edicts must be viewed in the light of settled constitutional law. It is there that Twitter and other social platforms will ultimately lose. Although the constitutional arguments that have addressed and rejected the Twitter pen pals of hate speech and incitement to violence are, by now, rich and legend, I will save for another time, perhaps another venue, a full argument as to why Twitter is bound by the same constitutional obligations that granted Citizens United and its private corporate cash cow the full protection of the First Amendment.

And what of the grand masters of the Twitter universe and their dutiful enforcers of good speech and bad … those who’s insight, experience and commentary about the pressing issues of our time is so widely respected and in demand as to be sought out not by political scientists, theologians and world leaders but by the sounding-board of their own cloistered mirrors. To be sure, the Board Chairman of Twitter, Bret Taylor has no doubt spent his life pursuing social justice for all as evidenced by an estimated net worth of $226 million dollars. This obvious sacrifice of personal reward for the benefit of those in need found its launch in providing software to businesses that were looking to increase productivity and massive profit. It worked. It still does.

Who is Parag Agrawal? Having been heralded by the Times of India with the headline of “India gets a handle @Twitter as Parag Agrawal named CEO,” the new chief executive officer quickly caved to the demands of the Modi Government when Twitter deleted accounts and tweets connected to farmer protests after the Delhi High Court authorized the government to take any steps against it should it refuse. Later when facing the prospect of criminal prosecution for any failure to observe new guidelines to regulate digital content on social media and streaming platforms, Twitter once again self-censored by adopting new local digital rules essentially promulgated to ensure content control of unpopular domestic speech or dissent in India. But alas, in banishing me from the marketplace of ideas, Mr. Agrawal’s censors failed to recall his own personal taunt at the hands of trolls who accused him of hate speech for his post “If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.” No matter how upsetting that post might be, like mine, it was not his own original thought, but simply a recast of an earlier commentary of another.

What of Board Member David Rosenblatt? Although sure to draw the predictable tedious shriek of antisemitism for merely noting his devotion to Israel, can Mr. Rosenblatt’s presence on Twitter’s small Board of Directors and the special treatment Israel has long enjoyed from its platform be mere coincidence? A co-founder of the Arava Power Company, an Israeli solar development enterprise, Rosenblatt, known for his “strong ties” to Israel, where he is a frequent visitor, sits on a number of other Boards which maintain offices in the “nation-state” and which encourage and support Zionist activities there. Among their endeavors is the “Onward Israel” program which funds internships in Israel for young American Jews; Birthright Israel which sponsors trips to the occupied age-old communities of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights; the Center for Israel Engagement which subsidizes delegations between Israel and the US; sponsorship of programs providing economic and cultural support for the Israeli “sister-City” of Nahariya; and a college scholarship program which provides financial support to recent immigrants in Israel, with a priority for those who were in the Israeli Defense Forces.

What about this special relationship between Twitter and Israel? As a starting point, any examination of this bond and its impact on honest fact-based discussion and debate must necessarily begin from the recognition that Israel, like India, and a number of other autocratic regimes has stripped Twitter of any meaningful discretion let alone the ability to ensure an untethered exchange within the marketplace of ideas in the demanding state.

For example, according to Quds Press, Israel requires social media giants to permit it to have input, if not control, over the content of the posts which ultimately find their way into the stream of debate within the Israeli public at large. At one point Twitter allegedly deleted thousands of posts, pages and accounts following demands made by the Ministry of Justice based upon little more than vague unsupported claims that the information posed a threat to the safety of Israel. Elsewhere with unflinching regularity, Twitter suspends accounts of Palestinian journalists posting tweets critical of Israeli activity.

Recently the account of renowned Palestinian journalist Mariam Barghouti was suspended while she was reporting from a Sheikh Jarrah solidarity demonstration in the occupied West Bank. While Twitter later reported the suspension as “accidental,” it did not provide the specific grounds that had prompted its initial precipitous decision. Several years ago, Twitter precipitously suspended multiple accounts of Quds News Network with several hundred thousand followers based solely on the complaint of the Palestinian Authority that the accounts had violated one of their local rules in the occupied territory. Reportedly the PA action was a result of Israeli pressure. Last year it suspended the account of CODEPINK co-executive director Ariel Gold, a prominent Jewish activist known for her indefatigable support of justice for Palestinians. Long targeted by Zionist trolls, her suspension followed a number of tweets including one mourning the extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian man. So, too, famed Palestinian academic and author Ramzy Baroud’s account was recently blocked for unspecified violations of Twitter rules. After an international uproar, his account was reinstated with no particularized grounds provided for its suspension.

Elsewhere Twitter has permitted the Israeli government to use its platform not just for the dissemination of patently false information but as a cover for its military operations. For example, the Israeli military’s official Twitter account posted a clip that purported to show Hamas embedding missile launchers into civilian neighborhoods. In reality, the footage was but a decoy weapon used by Israel during a training exercise. On other occasions, the IDF posted images of buildings it bombed in Gaza, including one that housed various media outlets including Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and Middle East Eye journalists. Although the images are typically accompanied by blanket assertions the building harbored Hamas military assets, no evidence is provided to support these indiscriminate claims. In an even more brazen violation of Twitter rules, if not international law, the Israeli military once announced in a post that its troops had begun attacking Gaza. A deliberate lie, it was part of a scheme to draw Hamas fighters into exposing themselves by thinking an invasion was underway when one was not. Likewise, the English version of the IDF account falsely accused Palestinian model Bella Hadid of advocating for “throwing Jews into the sea”, when in fact she had chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” In none of these instances did Twitter take any action against Israeli state accounts, or its supporters, despite their willful dissemination of calculated misinformation and libel, or a clear intended purpose to bring about the loss of Palestinian lives.

In the light of what is very much a glaring all-out surrender to the political and military interests and demands of Israel and Zionists across the world, Twitter has increasingly, almost eagerly, forfeited any vestige of objectivity in the marketplace of ideas regarding the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, liberation and justice. Comfortable with accepting, indeed readily furthering, the Zionist narrative, it has unleashed its auto-censors against Palestinian voices and those that stand with them opting instead to market the distorted and dishonest Israeli tale of perpetual victim to overwhelm the reality of the life and death of Palestinians at their colonizer hands. I am but one of many such targets.

Over the course of my decade on Twitter, I have drawn to my voice some forty-thousand followers and published almost half a million tweets. While they have covered a wide, diverse range of topics and issues, much of my effort has been born of solidarity with my Palestinian cousins . . . a united family of resistance, one determined to expose and to defeat the criminal aims of a European colonial project.

For those reading this essay through a link on Twitter, unlike the dozens of occasions when it served as a launch for other controversial often uncomfortable views of mine, this missive posts not from me directly, but through a supporter, as I am banned: victim to Twitter’s corporate hypocrisy, one that gauge’s speech not by the value of its untempered exchange, but rather its monied popularity and cheap, political and social convenience.

Regrettably, over these years we have seen Twitter, once a largely independent platform of timely social and political discourse and conscience, essentially crumble to become an intimidating merry-go-round of often irrelevant thought and commercial sale that challenges little but what to eat; what to wear; how to look. This may be the public square of mercantile ease . . . it is not the marketplace of ideas.

Since the day when at age16 my nose was bloodied and eyes burned by police batons and pepper spray as one of the thousands who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in an antiwar protest to shut down the headquarters of the New York City Police Department, I have fought against hate and state violence everywhere. As a student activist, community organizer, Vista, social worker, public defender and international human rights litigator, in and out of courts I have sided with the despaired, the despised the disaffected at every crossroad of my life. Although at times my journey has taken me into the midst of armed struggle, be it at Wounded Knee, Oka, or in Palestine, my personal passage has been that as an advocate, a wordsmith of sorts who has learned to navigate the marketplace of ideas with and on behalf of those whose voice, but not their vision, has been muffled if not muted by the state and its agents because of color, faith, poverty or principled politics. For me, nowhere has that fight been longer, louder or more essential than it has been in support of Palestinian liberation and justice.

So, Twitter, against the backdrop of your duplicitous corporate logo that exalts your multi-national empire as “a microblogging social media platform which gives you the freedom to post and share anything without any barriers or restrictions” . . . your words, not mine- do what you must.

At day’s end, you can take from me the virtual stairway to your trembling co-opted platform, but you will never silence my voice.
Stanley L. Cohen is lawyer and activist in New York City.
You can no longer follow Stanley Cohen on Twitter @StanleyCohenLaw

Twitter ✑ Platform of Exchange … Vehicle of Duplicity