Links for 2017-03-09

  • Colm O’Gorman, on societal responsibility for Mother & Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries & various other church atrocities in Ireland

    Excellent twitter thread on the topic. Pasted:

    It is often said that everyone knew what was happening in such places, or about the rape of children by priests. That is not true. It is true that deep veins of knowledge existed across Irish society, at all levels, but not everyone knew. Or were allowed to know. Just like is always the case, the terrible things that were done were possible only because they were tolerated. They went unchecked. They were tolerated by those in positions of authority who either dared not, or did not wish to, challenge the power strictures that existed They were tolerated by those without power or position because they feared what speaking up might do to them and to their families That was an Ireland where challenging such vile abuse by power would see you become its victim. It was brutal and vicious. If you did not, or could not, conform to the demands of the powerful, you were in real danger. At best, ostracisation and excommunication. But many experience far worse than that. They found themselves in the very places we now acknowledge as hell holes. Locked up in institutions I always remember the late, great Mary Rafferty exposing the scale of such abusive institutionalisation. She pointed out that at one point in our relatively recent history, we led the world in one regard. Per capita, we locked up more people in psychiatric institutions than any other country on the planet. Only the Soviet Union came a distant second to us. That was how Ireland treated dissent or difference That what was happened to many who could not conform to a brutal demand to be somehow ‘acceptable’ to dogma & unaccountable power And it wasn’t some ancient Ireland either. The last laundry closed in 1996. In 2002, when fighting for inquiries into child rape by priests and it’s cover up by bishops, cardinals and popes, those same princes declared themselves above the rule of the law of this Republic insisting that the law of their church was superior to the law of this state. And their position was taken seriously by many. It took months of dogged battle by me and others to get past that bullshit. For our political and legal system to assert itself. The Ireland where the lives of women & children were controlled & brutalised by people who felt they had a God given right to do so is not some other country that existed back in some other time. It is this Ireland. We have changed a lot – but it is still this Ireland. The difference now is that we ALL know. That the truth is out, and that more is being revealed. And yes, undoubtedly there is more to come. So it is NOT true all past members of society, or even anything close to a majority, colluded with such abuses. That is a falsehood. It is also a falsehood to suggest that the church did what the state would not do, and provided as best it could. That is a lie. The Catholic Church captured control of what should have been arms of the state. Health, education and social care. And it exploited them. It used them to drive its own agendas, to enforce its own dogma. And at every turn it resisted any ‘intrusion’ into those realms by others. including the state. Look at the Mother & Child Scheme for eg, or the response to the first multi-denominational schools, and much more. Catholic orders defended themselves against accusations of appalling abuse of children in their institutions by claiming that the state did not give them enough money to feed, clothe and properly care for the children they detained in those places. This was a lie. in the same institutions where children went starving, clergy were well fed and housed. They went for nothing. Funded by the state and the forced labour of the children or women they detained. The Ryan Report debunked that lie in its entirety. Ryan found that religious orders maintained “bloated congregations” by bringing in more and more children, and therefore more and more money And now we know. Now the threat of brutal reprisal is lifted. Now is the time for truth, to own what has been done to so many vulnerable people in our Republic. To learn from it and ensure we identify how that same corrupting tendency manifests today. Because it does of course It may not be quite as vicious, but it prevails.Look at how power still treats a reasonable demand for accountability: Maurice McCabe for eg Look at how our education and health systems still allow religious dogma to exert extraordinary power over people’s lives. We are a different Ireland, but are we different enough?

    (tags: mother-and-baby-homes tuam ireland catholic-church abuse colm-o-gorman twitter history priests)

  • Chatbot that overturned 160,000 parking fines now helping refugees claim asylum | Technology | The Guardian

    The original DoNotPay, created by Stanford student Joshua Browder, describes itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer”, giving free legal aid to users through a simple-to-use chat interface. The chatbot, using Facebook Messenger, can now help refugees fill in an immigration application in the US and Canada. For those in the UK, it helps them apply for asylum support.

    (tags: government technology automation bots asylum forms facebook)

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