Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Good Weblog

I really like Baraita. There are not too many weblogs which can ponder what kind of fanfic will result from Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus in Aramaic. There are also not many weblogs which are linked both from The Cranky Professor and Metablog: The Blog of Blogs (a general fanfic blog, but most of the members seem to be slash writers). It's nice to see how small the world still is.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The Innocent Unworldliness of the New York Post

I never though of the New York Post as a sweet, naive and trusting newspaper. Until today. "What kind of a mother lets a 4-year-old out of her sight?" they ask.

Based on my days in the kids' department at Penney's? Half the mothers in the suburbs, that's who. Yuppies or 'trailer trash', it didn't matter; people blithely let their kids wander, or trustingly left them in front of the Barney or Disney promo video playing. Part of my job, apparently, was to keep kids away from the mall exit or the escalator, and to retrieve the kids -- without touching them or raising my voice -- if they made a break for it. I generally tried to pre-empt this burst of excitement by doing something amazingly rare among parents -- talking to the kids. Even the most hyper kidlet will generally respond to a bit of civil conversation that breaks the tedium of shopping. Many kids didn't want to leave.

I'm sure it's very comforting to blame it all on the Travelers "foisting a bizarre, authority-shunning life" on kids. Wave a magic wand and make people settle down? (Like the rest of America? That moves every year or two?) That might work in Fantasyland. But we don't live in that world, and no newspaper reporter should be that innocent. Do try going shopping once in a while, dear.

In other news, the Fox News folks didn't say boo about Travelers or a "secret clan" last night when I was watching the interview with Toogood. This shows that conservatives are less bigoted, or at least less likely to believe they can't be sued. I am glad to see some network using its head.

Also, here's an interesting column from Milwaukee. Here's an interesting thread from soc.culture.african.american. And here's a point of view you sure wouldn't expect from alt.gathering.rainbow! Tolerance and acceptance for outsiders, suuuure. *rolls eyes*

Monday, September 23, 2002

You'd Better Get Born in Someplace Else

I wish I didn't have to update my blog this way. I wish I could say that the network reporting about Madelyne Gorman Toogood and her family was free from prejudice, or went to academia to understand a little-known culture. But the national reporters weren't nearly as free of bias as the local news on WHIO.

One went to the same "expert on Irish Travelers" that the Indiana newspapers did -- a local man who writes books on scams. He declared on national television that the Travelers were all "scam artists, just like the Gypsies." Oooh, two minorities insulted for the price of one!

NBC, predictably, went back to its 1996 and 1998 coverage of Murphy's Village, SC, for file footage. We were told that the Irish Travelers were a "secret clan". Oh, and they speak Shelta -- excuse me, "a language you and I can't understand". (Bzzzzt, wrong answer! Actually, I could understand the snippet they aired, because it was one of the Romani bits of Shelta, and I once read a book about the Rom.) We also learned that having more than one ID or identity is something odd, unusual and criminal. (Okay, so maybe I know more libertarians and paranoids than most people, but it's really not that uncommon.)

People keep crawling out of the woodwork on messageboards like this one. Let's pick some representative quotes:

Also, I am reading that she acknowledges being an "Irish Traveler" which is odd because I didn't think that was something you would admit to. From what I know I have o respect for them and I am amazed they continue to live in luxury in a particular community despite their organized wrongdoing.

How does such uneducated trash get hold of a luxury SUV? Not by honest work that's for sure.

If you are saying that you want to eradicate the gypsy culture/lifestyle, then I may agree with you in theory, however, you would have a long, hard battle before you.You would probably have an easier time eradicating the Catholic Church. The gypsies have been aroud for millenia, and every nation on the face of the earth since then has tried to rid themselves of them. They are going to be around, lying, theiving, stealing and conning for longer than you or I will be on this planet.

These comments are mild. To be fair, a few people here spoke up in favor of the presumption of innocence. The f** boards were worse, with some even telling the world that the Nazis knew what to do with people like the Travelers. (Obedient to Godwin's Law, the thread had stopped there when I last saw it.)

This is what it comes down to. A woman is now getting pilloried not for her treatment of her daughter (who the hospital said was perfectly healthy and unbruised, much to the disappointment of the local prosecutors), but for being a member of an ethnic minority. A nomadic ethnic minority -- how evil! Speakers of an endangered minority language -- worse still!

Where the heck are the academics who are so eager to study these folks? Why aren't they being put on television? Where are my fellow Hibernophiles? Why aren't they protesting this prejudiced nonsense? Heck, where is the ACLU?

Greta Van Susteren is interviewing Madelyne Toogood at 10 PM. I hope and pray that a fellow conservative will respect the Constitution, and maybe even a proud people with a long tradition of getting no respect. Attack Toogood for what she did wrong; she won't argue with you. But don't attack the people she was born to, just for being who they are.

Seamas O Siochain is a Traveler anthropologist from Ireland. Sharon Bohn Gmelch is an anthropologist from the US studying Travelers. Interview them, not that self-proclaimed 'expert'!

Dublin Irish Festival
in Columbus had a presentation on the Travelers this year. Talk to Mr. O'Carroll, for goodness' sake! He lives close!

At least the Catholic Church in the US has some

Well, here's an excerpt from "Go, Move, Shift", another Ewan McColl song about the Scottish Travellers. Very true, I'm sorry to say.

Born at the back of a hawthorn hedge
Where the black hole frost lay on the ground.
No eastern kings came bearing gifts.
Instead the order came to shift.

The eastern sky was full of stars
And one shone brighter than the rest
The wise men came so stern and strict
And brought the orders to evict

Wagon, tent or trailer born,
Last month, last year or in far off days.
Born here or a thousand miles away
There's always men nearby who'll say

You'd better get born in someplace else.
So move along, get along, Move along, get along,
Go! Move! Shift!