Some adults shouldn’t be let near children. I don’t mean the ones who beat them or sexually abuse them; vicious and cruel though such people are, what they do is so obviously wrong and contrary to the child’s interest, even the dullest of youngsters can see they are an enemy. No, the truly dangerous adults are the ones who fill children’s heads with ideas that sound good but would disgrace the brain of a donkey. There are lots of such ideas, such as ‘ ‘Bullies are always cowards’ and ‘School days are happy days’. But the biggest, daftest, donkey-disgracing lie is an unspoken one. It’s the lie that permeates the reward of a child for his or her attendance. This boy/girl didn’t miss a single day of school all year – give him/her this medal! Leave aside the fact that you’re rewarding the child for being healthy; you’re also implanting in the child’s mind the notion that attendance is a good in itself.
This morning’s Venerable Organ isn’t concerned with children – it deals with politicians. Its front-page headline is very excited at the fact that Michael McGimpsey and Gerry Adams are the two lowest-attenders at Stormont debates, and that top of the class for attendance is (no, don’t laugh) the SDLP’s Patsy McGlone. Just as a child could be in class every day the school’s open and still be as much value to the situation as a bulb with no electricity, so too with attendance at a political forum. John Hume knew that, which is why he hardly ever bothered to turn up at Westminster during his years as an MP. He knew that his presence wouldn’t change a blind thing and that he could serve his constituents better by being elsewhere doing other things.
Poor Patsy. The Venerable Organ has devoted at least three full pages to the virtues of attendance and in doing so has filled the Mid-Ulster MLA’s head with cruelly-misleading ideas about what matters and sad to say, poor Patsy will in all probability believe them. Some newspapers shouldn’t be let near politicians.