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18 March 2010 Edition

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Marxism and Paul Williams

We can learn so much from our Chinese brothers and sisters. Clifford Coonan, the Irish Times man in Beijing, reported last week that Chinese journalists are to go on mandatory courses in Marxist theory.
“Comrades who are going to be working on journalism’s front lines must learn theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and be taught Marx’s view on news, plus media ethics and Communist Party discipline on news and propaganda,” a Commie party hack announced.
Outstanding stuff. More power to them. It got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if we could run similar classes for Irish journalists, especially those working on politics? Irish journalists are good at what is called the ‘horse race’ aspect of politics. Who’s up, who’s down, who’s going to win the by-election or become a minister, and so on. They’re not so hot when it comes to political ideology, especially anything on the left, because it’s not something they encounter and as a result, don’t really understand.
So, during the rows over the bin charges, for example, we had a litany of journalists scoffing that it made no sense for parties on the left to oppose them when they’re normally supposed to support higher taxes. Well, no, those of us on the left who support higher taxes have very firm ideas about who should be paying them, and it’s not working class people.
Similarly, you had a couple of journalists suggest Sinn Féin had made a mistake in opposing the Lisbon Treaty the second time out as the party ended up on the losing side. But from a socialist perspective there wasn’t really any other side you could have picked. It’s not as if the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle sat around and tossed a coin to decide what position we’d take on Lisbon. After all, we did that on policing and look where it got us.
A crash course in Marxist politics might not do the boys and girls in Leinster House any harm at all.

The current edition of Village contains two shocking stories. One is a short piece showing pictures of what the magazine claims is Bill Cullen’s scrotum. I’m actually not making this up. I left the magazine open on the coffee table and it gave Roisín quite a turn when she wandered into the living room for Corrie. It was the picture of Bill Cullen’s mother’s scrotum (no, still not making it up) that drove her shrieking back to her bedroom.
The bigger shock is Lisa-Marie Berry’s article on Paul Williams. It’s a good piece of well written journalism in Village magazine. That’s as likely as coming across an ad for trips to Lourdes in a DUP newsletter. Don’t get me wrong. Village is, politically at least, not that bad and it does occasionally republish good articles that appeared elsewhere. But in general, through a combination of numbingly tedious writing and the subediting skills of an illiterate seven-year-old child with no English, it holds fast to its position as Ireland’s worst current affairs magazine/newspaper.
Anyhow, rant over, Lisa Marie’s article took an interesting tack. She asked 30 young Irishmen convicted of criminal offences what they thought of ‘journalist’ Paul Williams, the man who has made a career out of a borderline pornographic approaching to crime reporting. He’s just joined the News of the World and boasted on Sunday that, “No criminal is safe now that I’ve joined forces with the News of the World. The thing is, the criminals love Paul.
“You know you are up there with the best if Paul Williams calls you a ‘crime boss’ or gives you a nickname; that makes people afraid of you,” said one fan.
“When Williams writes about guns, robberies and shootings it’s exciting,” says another. “Everyone wants a piece of the action. His books don’t turn me off crime, they make me want to be a part of it. Why would I want to go straight? It’s boring in comparison.”
And while most of the lads interviewed clearly love his stuff and use his ‘journalism’ to teach themselves the tools of the trade, at least one was able to take a broader view of it.
“If he cared about stopping crime he would write about how shit it feels to be locked up,” said one convicted criminal. “Crime should be made out to be a crap life because that’s what it is – Williams makes it out to be glamorous to everyone, but it’s not like that when you’re counting your days inside here or looking over your shoulder when you’re on the outside. Why doesn’t he write about that?”
Because it doesn’t make him money.
Paul Williams is a parasite. He makes his money out of a carefully cultivated hard man image while exploiting, and creating, a fear of crime for his personal profit. Other young lads interviewed by Berry point out that if Williams was really interested in justice he would go after the Gardaí when they lift innocent people.
We won’t hold our breath.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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