EOIN BUT­LER

Whether it’s Yes votes or song con­tests, you should never never count your chick­ens be­fore they hatch

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

One foggy night back in Novem­ber 2004, I was asked to re­view a gig by a band called The Poly­phonic Spree. The Tex­ans, you may re­call, were a 24-piece, pre­tend-re­li­gious cult who, in hind­sight, rather re­sem­bled the In­di­ana mole women from the Net­flix com­edy se­ries The Un­breaka

ble Kimmy Sch­midt.

They were a nov­elty act, to be sure. But they had slayed at mu­sic fes­ti­vals a year ear­lier and ex­pec­ta­tions were high for their re­turn. At Dublin’s Am­bas­sador Theatre that evening, how­ever, the band’s happy-clappy shtick for once came un­stuck. Ge­orge WBush, the nu­cle­ar­armed, evan­gel­i­cal sim­ple­ton who once claimed God had in­structed him to in­vade Iraq, had just been re-elected pres­i­dent of the United States.

A deep gloom hung over pro­ceed­ings. The band’s re­li­gious cult gim­mick just didn’t seem that cute any more.

A cou­ple of songs into a lack­lus­tre set, singer Tim De­Laugh­ter fi­nally broke char­ac­ter to ac­knowl­edge the ele­phant in the room. “So, ah,” he drawled. “I guess we’re about the best thing out of Texas right now, huh?” A cou­ple of ironic cheers rang out in the dark­ness at the back of the au­di­to­rium. Oth­er­wise, he could have heard a rat piss on cot­ton wool in China.

Mem­o­ries of that evening came back to me ear­lier this week, when I no­ticed ad­ver­tise­ments for an LGBT “whopper party” in Dublin on Satur­day May 23rd, the day when the re­sult of the Mar­riage Equal­ity vote is due to be an­nounced. “It’s also Euro­vi­sion night,” the ad promised. “So, what­ever the out­come, we’re hav­ing a party.”

Now if the polls are to be trusted, it seems the Mar­riage Equal­ity vote will likely pass next week­end. And I ap­pre­ci­ate that, with the out­come still in the bal­ance, it would be un­wise for one side to be seen plan­ning a victory party pre­ma­turely. But I learned a les­son that dis­mal night in 2004 that Yes sup­port­ers would do well to take heed of in the com­ing week.

That is, when it comes to elec­tions, the re­sults of which have the po­ten­tial to fa­tally un­der­mine any faith you ever had in hu­man de­cency, you’d best do ev­ery­thing in your power to make sure the vote goes the way you want it to. Be­cause if it doesn’t, a knees-up af­ter­wards with Nin Huguen & the Huguenotes is not go­ing to make up for your loss.

Ed­i­to­rial guide­lines here pro­hibit me from ex­press­ing a per­sonal pref­er­ence in re­la­tion to next Fri­day’s Mar­riage Equal­ity ref­er­en­dum. Well, tech­ni­cally, I could ex­press one. But then we’d have to dig up an­other age­ing rock hack to tell dif­fer­ent shaggy dog story, about a sec­ond band no one cares about any­more, in or­der to ar­rive at the op­po­site con­clu­sion. One of us, you’ll agree, is prob­a­bly more than enough. No mat­ter. A thou­sand com­men­ta­tors bet­ter qual­i­fied and more ar­tic­u­late than me have al­ready weighed in on both sides, with their con­sid­ered opin­ions on this mat­ter. The world will sur­vive with­out mine.

It does seem pretty sig­nif­i­cant to me though that the ar­gu­ments de­ployed by the No side are vir­tu­ally all pred­i­cated on the as­sump­tion that the ref­er­en­dum is about some­thing other than what’s writ­ten on the bal­lot pa­per. (You don’t want ba­bies ripped from their moth­ers’ bo­soms? Vote No. You want your cousin to marry his dog? Vote Yes. Find this year’s Elec­tric Pic­nic line-up a lit­tle same-y? Vote No. )

And it is ag­gra­vat­ing that many Yes vot­ers ap­pear to be­lieve this battle will be won and lost on so­cial me­dia, with twib­bons, and flame wars and the de­mon­i­sa­tion of their op­po­nents. Zing­ing a con­firmed No sup­porter on Face­book or Twit­ter may win you lots of likes and retweets from other con­firmed Yes sup­port­ers. But it’s not go­ing to have any ef­fect on the out­come of the vote.

This elec­tion will be de­cided in the cen­tre ground, by your par­ents, grand­par­ents, un­cles, aunts and neigh­bours. The woman who sells you milk in the morn­ing and the man who pulls you a pint in the evening. The side that reaches out to those peo­ple, and makes the more com­pelling case to them, is the side that will be cel­e­brat­ing douze points next Satur­day night.

In­ci­den­tally, since ap­par­ently no one cares about it, I am happy to state a per­sonal pref­er­ence when it comes to the Mar­riage Equal­ity’s lit­tle loved sup­port act, the Pres­i­den­tial Age ref­er­en­dum. Af­ter not a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion, and based largely on per­sonal prej­u­dice, I’ve de­cided to vote No on this amend­ment.

Call me crazy, but I don’t want a 21-year-old head of state tak­ing self­ies with for­eign dig­ni­taries in Áras an Uachtaráin. I don’t want Pres­i­dent Doo­gie Howser sign­ing bills into law. And by the way, young peo­ple ? If you’re not old enough to get that last ref­er­ence, you’re not old enough to be pres­i­dent, god­damnit! Not on my watch! You shall not over­come! I won’t al­low it! Now get off my lawn.

I don’t want a 21-year-old head of state tak­ing self­ies in Áras an Uachtaráin. I don’t want Pres­i­dent Doo­gie Howser sign­ing bills into law.

Doo­gie Howser for pres­i­dent? No way

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