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Child Labour in America

This is a photograph from the absolutely wonderful Shorpy site.

It was taken in 1911 and shows Breaker Boys removing rocks and other debris from the coal by hand as it passes beneath them. These are children, 10 and 12 years old.

It was from such things that America’s riches were born.

I’ve taken the liberty of quoting verbatim from John Spargo, The Bitter Cry of the Children (New York: Macmillan, 1906), quoted on the Shorpy site, for one simple reason: I wouldn’t be able to express it as well.

Work in the coal breakers is exceedingly hard and dangerous. Crouched over the chutes, the boys sit hour after hour, picking out the pieces of slate and other refuse from the coal as it rushes past to the washers. From the cramped position they have to assume, most of them become more or less deformed and bent-backed like old men. When a boy has been working for some time and begins to get round-shouldered, his fellows say that He’s got his boy to carry round wherever he goes.

The coal is hard, and accidents to the hands, such as cut, broken, or crushed fingers, are common among the boys. Sometimes there is a worse accident: a terrified shriek is heard, and a boy is mangled and torn in the machinery, or disappears in the chute to be picked out later smothered and dead. Clouds of dust fill the breakers and are inhaled by the boys, laying the foundations for asthma and miners’ consumption.

I once stood in a breaker for half an hour and tried to do the work a 12-year-old boy was doing day after day, for 10 hours at a stretch, for 60 cents a day. The gloom of the breaker appalled me. Outside the sun shone brightly, the air was pellucid, and the birds sang in chorus with the trees and the rivers. Within the breaker there was blackness, clouds of deadly dust enfolded everything, the harsh, grinding roar of the machinery and the ceaseless rushing of coal through the chutes filled the ears. I tried to pick out the pieces of slate from the hurrying stream of coal, often missing them; my hands were bruised and cut in a few minutes; I was covered from head to foot with coal dust, and for many hours afterwards I was expectorating some of the small particles of anthracite I had swallowed.

I could not do that work and live, but there were boys of 10 and 12 years of age doing it for 50 and 60 cents a day. Some of them had never been inside of a school; few of them could read a child’s primer. True, some of them attended the night schools, but after working 10 hours in the breaker the educational results from attending school were practically nil. We goes fer a good time, an’ we keeps de guys wot’s dere hoppin’ all de time, said little Owen Jones, whose work I had been trying to do.

From the breakers the boys graduate to the mine depths, where they become door tenders, switch boys, or mule drivers. Here, far below the surface, work is still more dangerous. At 14 or 15 the boys assume the same risks as the men, and are surrounded by the same perils. Nor is it in Pennsylvania only that these conditions exist. In the bituminous mines of West Virginia, boys of 9 or 10 are frequently employed. I met one little fellow 10 years old in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, last year, who was employed as a trap boy. Think of what it means to be a trap boy at 10 years of age. It means to sit alone in a dark mine passage hour after hour, with no human soul near; to see no living creature except the mules as they pass with their loads, or a rat or two seeking to share one’s meal; to stand in water or mud that covers the ankles, chilled to the marrow by the cold draughts that rush in when you open the trap door for the mules to pass through; to work for 14 hours waiting opening and shutting a door then waiting again for 60 cents; to reach the surface when all is wrapped in the mantle of night, and to fall to the earth exhausted and have to be carried away to the nearest shack to be revived before it is possible to walk to the farther shack called home.

Boys 12 years of age may be legally employed in the mines of West Virginia, by day or by night, and for as many hours as the employers care to make them toil or their bodies will stand the strain. Where the disregard of child life is such that this may be done openly and with legal sanction, it is easy to believe what miners have again and again told me that there are hundreds of little boys of 9 and 10 years of age employed in the coal mines of this state.

God Almighty

Categories
Crime Religion

They just don’t get it, do they?

Bishop Willie Walsh is probably the best of the Irish Catholic hierarchy. He’s an affable, humble and self-effacing guy. He believes in reaching out to his people and he goes among them as an equal. He has a genuine sense of empathy with others and he is never arrogant, unlike so many of his colleagues.

Willie, as I said, is probably the best of them.

Fr Con Desmond came to Willie, his bishop, in 1995. It was just after Father Brendan Smyth, the notorious child-rapist, had been arrested. The country was enraged with the clergy and talk of clerical sexual abuse was everywhere. Fr Desmond was bothered by this new climate, with good reason, as it later turned out, and he turned to Willie Walsh for advice.

Now, put yourself in the Bishop’s place. Here comes this guy who works for you, and he says Willie, I’m bothered by this new climate. People are very annoyed at priests for raping kids and I want to tell you about something I did a few years ago.

What would you think he was trying to tell you? You’re the Bishop, and you’re thinking, Climate against raping kids. OK. You’re also thinking, He wants to tell me something.

Let’s see. What could it be? Maybe he didn’t pay his TV licence? Ah no.

OK then. Perhaps he stole some toffee-apples from a blind shopkeeper? No, Ted.

Right. Possibly he had two pints and drove home, the rascal? Nyet!

OK then. One last go. I know. I have it now: he knocked on a door and ran away! Ah-aaaaH!

Look, says Willie to this priest, I hope you’re not going to tell me anything about shagging kids, because if you do, I’ll have to tell the cops.

Father Con pauses for a second. Ah Jesus no, Willie. I was just going to say that I didn’t pay my TV licence, I stole a toffee-apple, I drove drunk and I rang a doorbell.

Right, says Bishop Willie. Off you go then.

Later on, Willie sent Fr Desmond to a shrink who said he was no danger to children.

That’s grand, says Willie. Carry on as a priest, visiting schools and hospitals, and blessing swimming pools. I’ll say no more about it.

Fr Con Desmond was recently convicted of sexually abusing a child in 1982.

As I said, Bishop Willie Walsh is probably the best of them. Imagine what the rest are like.

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Sean, (can I call you that?)

Categories
Politics Religion Scandal

The Feast of the Blessed Condescension

This article was first published in November 2006

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Isn’t there some big Catholic thing coming up soon, in early December? The Immaculate Assumption, or the Holy Dispersal. Something of that sort, anyway. The Blessed Emulsification, maybe.

In the past, it was the day when all the farmers used to head for their nearest urban centre to get completely blunted in the pub while the missus noodled around the shops buying cocaine and vibrators, but those days are long gone. Now, in the new Celtic Aardvark Ireland, rural people no longer need to visit their local town in huge hordes on the feast of the Unmissable Contraction. Certainly not. These days, rural people are all over in Dubai with their accountants in early December, trying to figure out how much their patch of mud is worth now. Bastards.

It wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t always money money money. Oh no.

Actually, that’s not true. It was always about money. Let me give you a case in point.

Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General issued a report about the payments by the Residential Institutions Redress Board to victims of clerical abuse. The latest figure is 1.2 billion euros. Let me repeat that. One thousand two hundred million euros.

Now, what do you think this money is for? Is it because the government think these people deserve a holiday and could do with a few bob to help them go to Malaga?

No.

Is it because the people who claimed are so damn nice you couldn’t refuse them?

No, it isn’t.

Well, maybe it’s because the Catholic Church has decided to share some of its vast wealth with poor people, in line with the teaching of Jesus?

Ah come on now! You have to be joking surely? The Catholic Church follow Jesus’s teaching?

No. It’s none of the above. The people have been awarded the money to partially make up for the fact that they were physically, sexually and psychologically abused by priests, nuns and monks. Read that again carefully. Abused by priests by priests, nuns and monks. Not, you will notice, by postmen, police, nurses, dog wardens or any other employee of the State. Children were raped, beaten and psychologically abused by nuns, priests and monks.

You’d imagine therefore that they would be compensated by the organisation their abusers belonged to, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. So how much did the Catholic church pay towards the one thousand two hundred million euros so far paid out to victims?

Most of it, I hear you saying.

No!

Half of it, you suggest.

No!!

A quarter, you shout, in despair.

I stand up and wave my arms at you in dismissal. No, no and no again.

The Catholic church paid a tenth of the cost. The Catholic church paid 127 million euros and no matter how high the awards go, that is all the Catholic church will ever pay.

What??

You heard me right. Even though the children were raped, beaten and psychologically abused by nuns, priests and monks, the Catholic church will never pay more than 127 million euros.

So what uncritical benefactor has ridden to the assistance of the Catholic church? What kind and decent person has decided to rescue the church from the penury it brought upon itself by its abuse of children? Who could possibly be so generous? Well, look no further. Look in the mirror, for this wonderful benefactor is you. Your taxes are paying one thousand two hundred million euros to make up the shortfall, and this is the result of an agreement signed by a government minister.

Michael Woods, PhD, agreed this deal with the Catholic church, including Sister Helena O’Donoghue of the Sisters of Mercy, of whom more anon. Dr Woods, you might remember, was once Minister for Health, and did nothing at the time to dispel the belief that he was a medical practitioner when in fact he had a doctorate arising out of some research on tomatoes. Dr Woods is also a well-known member of Opus Dei. Dr Michael Woods concluded a deal whereby your money and mine was used to underwrite the Catholic church without limit. Can you imagine that? These guys paid in 127 million and that was an end of their obligations, even though they were the ones who had committed the abuse. Even though the claims are currently at one thousand two hundred million and rising, the church will never have to pay an extra penny. Our money will be used to pay the rest, no matter how much the bill comes to.

Now, who is Sr Helena O’Donoghue? Sr O’Donoghue is a member of the community that controls the Mater Hospital in Dublin. The Mater Hospital has recently been designated the location for the National Children’s Hospital, even though it is completely inaccessible for children coming from outside Dublin, and for their parents. The location was chosen even though a suitable site was offered at no cost to the government on the periphery of Dublin. (A site which was easily accessible from the N7).

The Mater is also the hospital whose ethics committee attempted to prevent cancer patients from using contraception. A truly Christian institution.

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The Sisters of Mercy . . .

Public Apology

Criminal Responsibilty

 

Categories
Religion

Ratzo

There’s the unelected Pope Ratzo the First over there in Rome, issuing edicts to all and sundry to the following effect:

1. If you’re a priest who finds out that another priest has been buggering little boys, say fuck-all about it or I’ll excommunicate you.

2. If you’ve been buggered by a priest, shut the fuck up about it or I’ll excommunicate you too.

Great. Now, meanwhile, half the country – me included – have been clamouring for Bertie to come clean about the money, and quite properly too. So can’t you just imagine the public wrath if it was about more than money. Supposing Bertie had sent out a letter, let’s say, to all the teachers in the country, threatening to fire them if they exposed cases of child sex-abuse. And then, for good measure, suppose he informed all the pupils that he’d have them expelled if they told their parents what was going on.

Never mind the few pounds from the dodgy Manchester businessmen. That would be as nothing. The mobs would be roaming the streets, demanding Bertie’s eyeballs on a stick. They’d burn down Government Buildings.

And yet, there isn’t a peep out of the same mob when His Holiness does it.

Isn’t that amazing?

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Das papahund

Das papahundchen

Curses

Ratzo – First Blood

Ratzo’s Leap