• Morgan Fagg

Elections, Voting, Governments, Freedom of Speech & a bowl of water for the dog

Updated: Apr 13, 2019


A lesbian friend was leaving Madrid and had invited me for some drinks with some other friends from the local G.A.A. team, three girls and myself and the conversation turned to the Repeal the Eight referendum.

One girl had travelled home to vote and talked about the difficulties she and another mutual friend, had had in returning to vote.

When I stated that my friend is a lesbian, I did so as you can imagine how important recent referendums have been for her. We talked often in advance of Repealing the Eight and she had asked me to take photographs of the event she was organising. In the end, they collected over €800 at the fundraiser which she attributed to one of the girls at our table who worked tirelessly all night selling raffle tickets.

The Repeal the Eight had been mentioned before and I remember attending a small event on the 1st of October 2016 in which a handful of people attended an event in the centre of Madrid.

I refused point blank to take part in their campaign and explained if they don’t have the paperwork to protest in a public place, I’m not in. I told them I would photograph and share the photos but if the police showed up, I was not part of their group.

Previously I had photographed a very successful event in a public park for the Marriage Equality Referendum but laws changed in Spain in 2015.

La Ley Mordaza (The Gag Law) was introduced following the attacks in Paris in which a number of cartoonists were murdered.

I didn’t stand with Paris and actually thought their cartoons were vile and despite Ireland having anti blasphemy laws which should have prohibited the cartoonists from publishing their repeated religious attacks in Ireland, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny marched with world leaders in Paris in support of the cartoonists who were murdered.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to France paid his respects despite Saudi Arabia sentencing a blogger to 10 years in prison and a 1,000 lashes for the crime of “insulting Islam” more recently, a journalist went missing when he went to a Saudi Embassy and his body has yet to be found.

Rest in Peace Jamal Khashoggi.

I was very suspicious of governments involvement in supporting Free Speech.

Shut Up and support the Freedom of Speech if you want to but certainly in Spain,

The Gag Law was introduced in which protests and photographing police became criminal.

I have even had the police hold me down as another police man deleted pictures from my camera in a public square.

Freedom of Speech had been attacked in the name of Freedom of Speech and standing outside a government building in a predominately Catholic country without the necessary paperwork, seemed like a bad idea.

Donal Trump in America for example as defended Neo Nazis’ rights to march in America because they had the right paperwork and one year after our small Repeal the 8th gathering in the middle of Madrid, police brutality was broadcast around the world when Catalans held an illegal referendum on October 1 2017.

Luckily nothing happened to our small group that day but I was very critical of them organising an event on a weekend when The Madrid Harps Ladies’ team was playing a team from Dublin.

My friend who was leaving Madrid was one of the people who couldn’t make the original protest and in the end, I was the only person to make both Repeal the Eight events held in Madrid.

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher was too busy to campaign for the 8th but many people not running again for the Áras did take the time to attend events and fundraise.

As Ireland votes on Blasphemy Laws, I will vote against them even though, I would like to see the courage to defend other people’s religions and beliefs but also to protect the truth and not hate speech. I do not support the French publication Charlie Hebdos’ controversial cartoons. I saw them as hate speech.

Not what they drew but the frequency in which they attacked different groups.

We should never be afraid of telling the truth but hate speech is not Free Speech, there is always a cost. We should also not be afraid to protest in public and oppose our governments' decisions.

Sitting at a table with three Irish girls, an African American girl sitting next to us had to apologise that her dog was running under our table so we invited her to join us.

Americans in Europe have to apologise for their president all the time but her apology was not necessary as she was hiding out in Europe after revealing controversial details to a Student newspaper about her college’s involvement in investing in For-Profit-Prisons.

A problem in America where there are more people in prison than college. Her prestigious college didn’t like that and she lost her security clearance working for the federal government and quickly checked into an psychiatric institution. I guess she really does need political asylum.

Not as mad as it sounds, she was able to claim she was not of sound mind when she disclosed the confidential details and this crazy act prevented her from going straight from college to an actual prison.

All around the world, people face difficult decisions, have difficulty voting and face prosecution from government and the police.

This African American girl also identified as a lesbian making 2 out of 5 us gay. 40% of the people in front of me were gay, that is certainly not a minority in my mind. As a straight white man, I was definitely in the minority in the group but looking for Equal Rights doesn’t take away from freedoms at all unless you want the freedom to discriminate.

When we look at this small group and create a quick paella chart, 4 out of 5 of us don’t have a postal vote and Marriage Equality is an issue for 2 out of 5 of us. 80% of us were proud of our president where as 20% feared that she could find herself in a For-Profit-Prison as her Republican president attacked her gender, race and sexuality. Let them eat cake, I say in reference to both the famous french comment "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche” attributed to Marie Antoinette and the fact that Republicans have been happy to see a Gay couple refused a wedding cake on the basis of a baker’s bias against Marriage Equality.

Interestingly, those wishing to dine in style like Marie Antoinette, can find her settee in Áras an Uactaráin where Charles de Gaulle gifted the couch to the Irish State while on holiday in Ireland.

The legendary General de Gaulle who had resisted the Nazis in WW2 flew to Ireland two weeks after resigning as President of France when voters rejected the referendum he had championed which was on government reforms.

These are just my thoughts looking at a coffee table in front of me in a European capital and how laws and politics effect us all.

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