I’ve never liked Senator David Norris. His accent, the way he speaks as if he were trying to make a point to a group of hard-of-hearing people several fields away, and of course the Joyce thing. Yes, he’s entitled to like James Joyce. Great writer. But while the rest of us just read his books, Norris feels the need every year to dress up in Edwardian clothes and prance around Dublin with a bunch of his equally-exhibitionist mates.
So no, I can’t stand him; but this morning I feel sorry for him. Back in 2002 Norris gave an interview to Helen Lucy-Burke in which he said some things about paedophilia and the Ancient Greeks. It now looks as though what he said is coming back to bite to death his hopes of becoming the President of Ireland next September.
In the interview, Norris made the mistake of talking about sexual activity between older and younger men and boys, and pointing out that not all societies shared our views on these things – notably the Ancient Greeks. This is true in fact but you don’t hear it mentioned a lot. That’s because nearly everybody admires Greek civilization and if you toss in this sharply different view on sex with young people, the waters get muddied. Admiration of Greek culture then runs the risk of being mistaken for admiration of Greek sexual practices. It’s the blunderbuss judgement in action. No time for distinctions, no time for complexity. Paedophiles, were they? And you say they kept slaves too? The scumbags. Ripped me off last summer during my holiday in Crete as well.
Norris was brave but not very wise when he aired the facts back in 2002. He’s now being a bit less brave, shouting that the interview was a distortion, taken out of context, why now, where’s the tape, blah blah blah. So don’t let’s get carried away. I still think he’s a braying egoist and he wouldn’t get my vote for President of Ireland, if the people in this corner of Ireland were allowed to vote in presidential elections. Which, thanks to a succession of cowardly southern governments including the present one, we’re not.