After John Haldane’s tight-rope walk over a swamp of politically correct crocodiles at the University Notre Dame’s 2019 ethics and culture conference, John Waters’ talk seemed subdued by comparison. After getting used to the somber tone of his talk, the audience quickly fell under his spell. With his balding pate surrounded by a halo of what was left of his hippie hair, his white stubble beard and cane, Waters had the air of a man who had something important to say after being released from a military infirmary where he underwent protracted convalescence following a battle in which he almost died. The fact that he described another casualty in the culture wars in Ireland did not disguise the fact that he was one of that campaign’s most famous victims.
On January 11, 2014, in a broadcast of The Saturday Night Show, Rory O’Neill, an Irish drag queen who goes by the name of Miss Panti, moved from a discussion of the upcoming Irish referendum on gay marriage, to a discussion of homophobia, to calling the Irish journalist John Waters a homophobe in a series of logical leaps that left everyone but Waters, who was home at the time minding his own business, befuddled by the charge. Waters, who had been a columnist for The Irish Times for 20 years, demanded an apology and got instead weeks of legal prevarication, which only got resolved when the newspaper threw in its hand and paid Waters a six figure settlement rather than let his defamation case go to trial. O’Neill went on to become famous, and Waters, who became a pariah after being forced out at the Irish Times, tries to explain how this could happen in a Catholic country like Ireland in his book Give us back the Bad Roads.https://www.amazon.com/s?k=John+Waters+Give+us+back+...b_noss
The fact that Waters found it impossible to defend himself against the drag queen’s charge had devastating personal consequences, but the incident transcended the merely personal in its significance. Bad Roads is not so much a description of what happened to John Waters, as it is the story of what really happened to Ireland over the course of the first decade of the 21st century. As Waters puts it:
What I had experienced and observed in the 16 months prior to the vote of May 2015 had chilled me to the marrow, and alerted me to the fragility of our democracy. In effect, a baying mob had acquired the free run of Irish society’s media apparatus. The drag queen who had baselessly demonised me had, more or less as a result, become a national celebrity, himself given the run of the so-called ‘National Theatre’ and of radio and TV chat shows coast to coast. In due course he would be given an honorary degree by Trinity College.This and all subsequent quotes from Bring us back the Bad Roads were taken from a ms. Provided by the author. No pagination will be given.
As a journalist, Waters was used to controversy, but “the unmitigated venom” which he encountered online after his appearance on The Saturday Night Show now made it “unsafe for me to walk down the street.” The “sense of menace” he encountered was not only unprecedented in Irish society, it was especially befuddling to those who mistakenly thought that this hate campaign was being waged in the name of tolerance. The main problem was semantic. Waters was forced to defend himself against a word, homophobe, which had no correlation to the world of reality. Rather, the term “Homophobe” was:
a word with a deliberately cultivated demonic aura and a capacity to strike fear into bystanders lest they too be daubed with its nauseous meanings and innuendoes. The condition I found myself in seemed to arise almost by something like ‘appointment’ of Rory O’Neill, by virtue of some odd form of ordinance within his remit as a gay man. He could call me a homophobe and did not need to proffer evidence. All I could do was deny it, but I would, wouldn’t I?
In his 20 years as a journalist for The Irish Times, Waters had never experienced the ferocity of what happened after his appearance on The Saturday Night Show. Waters found himself engulfed in a “tsunami of outrage” which made him responsible for “all of the wrongs suffered by homosexuals in Ireland in living memory and before.”
Bad Roads is the protocol of a man who woke up in the cultural equivalent of the intensive care unit after a bad accident and was now trying to piece together not only what happened to him but how the accident could have happened in the first place. “How did I end up under the wheels of a homosexual juggernaut,” we can imagine him saying, “when I thought I was safe in my office writing columns for a newspaper?”
Waters couches his book in a literary conceit, writing as if he were addressing his deceased father and the Ireland that his father represented. As part of his report, Waters, who was born in 1955, has to make some fundamental observations and clarifications. This attack could only have taken place because the Ireland he had grown up in—symbolized in Bad Roads by his father, to whom the book is addressed—is no longer the same Ireland which celebrates drag queens by conferring honorary doctorates on them. The Ireland of Waters’ youth is symbolized best by his father, the inveterate tinkerer. Remembering that his father had assigned him to grind the cylinders of a second-hand automobile engine he had purchased, Waters writes that:
One of the things I unconsciously adapted from your personality was the idea of reconstructing myself to cohere with some unfocused ‘moral’ paradigm for the benefit of my growing daughter. It’s strange to think how easily I fell into this without thinking about it, becoming pious and solemn and serious-minded, without knowing what purpose this might serve.
Waters may have found logos in an automobile engine, but he was a reluctant conscript in the culture wars. Up to his appearance on The Saturday Night Show in January 2014, Waters had no strong feelings about homosexual unions as a marriage issue. But he had very strong feelings about paternity. Because of the discrimination he had encountered after he had fathered a child out of wedlock with the Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, Waters felt that fathers were systematically deprived of what should have been inalienable rights which stemmed from biology not the permission of politician or the whims of social workers. Homosexual marriage, he feared, would further weaken whatever remaining rights fathers still had by denying that fatherhood was a biological fact and making it a lifestyle choice granted to privileged minorities.
The state trumps biology now by defining who can call themselves the child’s parents. Under assault from the bullying power of LGBT activists, the now chronic dishonesty and abdication of journalists, the say-so of multinational corporations and the craven self-interest of politicians, virtually the entirety of family protections was being dismantled and rewritten
It is hard to say when I became aware of these tendencies in Ireland. If you pushed me I would say around 2007/8, though I cannot outline for you in any precise way the putative connections between these tendencies and the meltdown in the economy that occurred at the same time. I expect there is one, but the precise nature of it may not emerge with any clarity for a long time.
These tendencies accelerated over time, speeding exponentially at the time of the “marriage equality” referendum, when Ireland:
entered an era of privatised opinion: people are now so browbeaten by unreason and illogic that mostly they’ve decided to keep their positions and beliefs to themselves and opt out of expressing any view of what should happen in the public realm. It’s quite amazing to feel the difference: people now ask questions but respond to your answers with vague noises and platitudes. It’s as if everyone is terrified of being reported for holding unorthodox opinions. Better, then, to wait and see which way the wind is blowing.
Waters was surprised by O’Neill’s attack on him as a “homophobe” because he considered himself a “conscientious objector” in the gay marriage culture wars. Waters was not opposed to gay marriage in principle because “in reality what is nowadays called marriage has long since moved beyond” the traditional understanding:
You may be surprised to hear that I don’t have any theological objection to gay marriage. I have disappointed many’s the TV and radio researcher in this regard. I’ve refused almost all requests to become involved in this debate, partly because my position is not what people expect and partly because of the bullying which has characterised the discussion from the beginning. It’s not that I mind being called names, but there needs to be a prize worth winning or preserving in order to justify running such gauntlets, and I’m not sure that this is the case here.
If unopposed in theory, Waters was nonetheless opposed to gay marriage in practice because it demanded gay adoption as one of its corollaries, and gay adoption opened the door to treating children as a commodity which could be purchased by homosexuals, who by definition could never have children of their own. Waters rightly saw through this ploy as saying that homosexuals had the right to buy and traffick in children in any way that they saw fit, but not as a philosopher, or a Catholic, or a moral crusader. Waters is more traditional than Catholic. He digs his own turf. He defends the rights of “blood”:
In fact, now that I think if it, I’m probably better suited for filing under ‘Anti-marriage’ than under ‘Anti- Gay Marriage’ … I certainly don’t make these arguments from any of the conventional positions, least of all a Catholic one – although it’s no secret that I am a Catholic. I suppose that, deep down, there is a metaphysical basis to the insistence on the primacy of a biological connection between a child and parent, but I don’t see the necessity to couch such arguments in metaphysics when there is still just about enough common sense about to sustain them.
After making a name for himself in Irish journalism as a defender of fathers’ rights, Waters found himself unimpressed “by Catholic objections to gay marriage per se, and even less so concerning recent Catholic protests about the rights of children to know both parents. My interest in this subject has stemmed naturally from my work over the past 18 years or so in trying to convince the world that there’s a purpose to fatherhood and that it’s damaging to children to banish fathers from their lives.”
Waters complained that because the Catholic Church in Ireland was hors de combat on fathers’ rights, she was missing in action in virtually every subsequent battle in the culture wars. The referenda that began by attacking the family ended up gutting the Irish constitution over a remarkably short period of time. There is an element of personal animus involved here because, as he puts it, “when Catholics come looking for me to man their barricades against gay marriage, I find myself torn between remembrance of two silences: theirs and that of the liberals they seek now to face down in the name of protecting families and children.” Waters is incensed because he rightly sees gay adoption as “the cusp of an era of state-trafficking on a massive scale, under the cover of ‘child protection.’”
His logic is irrefutable and born out by historical events: “since it is illegal to sell a child after birth, why should it be different if the transaction occurs before the child is conceived? . . It is manifestly unconscionable, and therefore unsustainable, that governments which preach about the rights of children can countenance their citizens being involved in child trafficking of this kind.”
The social welfare establishment had progressively expanded “economically and educationally based criteria to justify seizing children, usually from vulnerable single mothers,” but no one was allowed to speak up in protest because the LGBT lobby “had all but convinced the public that the changes being proposed would come at no cost to anyone apart from a few bitter traditionalists fixated with Catholic dogma.” The government refused to take on the transnational corporations, the American tax-exempt foundations, and high-tech communications enablers like Apple and Google because the Irish government was dependent on them for its survival. As a result, the most vulnerable Irish—the poor, single mothers and their children, and ultimately the unborn—were deprived of rights that the Irish Constitution had declared “inalienable” and “imprescriptible,” which is to say, rights that cannot be given up or taken away by government or the rich and powerful oligarchs who control the government. Something more was afoot here than simply concern for the rights of a self-proclaimed downtrodden minority. The campaign for homosexual marriage “represented the advance march of an ideology now hitting its full stride. It was by now clear that the agenda did not end with the evisceration of fathers, but was really concerned with ultimately disintegrating all normative ideas of family.”
Waters had been dragged willy nilly into a battle he had no intention of joining largely because of his defense of the biological bond between fathers and their children which had been denied by the family law establishment in Ireland. At this point, O’Neill’s attack on Waters begins to look less like an accident and more like a conscious plan. Once he recovered from the initial shock, Waters began to put the pieces together:
To my mind, there were actually four relevant factors in what I will call O’Neill’s thinking in including me in his assault. One is that I had for some time in my Irish Times column been exploring religious questions from the position of arguing for the necessity that Irish society become mindful of what it might be losing in jettisoning its Catholic/Christian heritage. I was also getting deep into some questions about the functionality of religion in both the life of the human person and the life of society.”
The crucial factor which led to the targeting of Waters as a homophobe and subsequent witch-hunt which sought to remove him from the public eye revolved around his involvement in the 2012 so-called Children’s Rights Referendum. Waters “was among those who unsuccessfully resisted an attempt to include a specific provision for children’s rights in the Constitution, arguing that children already had robust constitutional protections, largely exercised through their parents, and warning that this measure was clearly a power grab by the government to appropriate and transfer these rights from parents to the state.”
John Waters had become “the face of homophobia in Ireland” because he had the temerity to criticize a more virulent form of the same social engineering which had been imposed on American Catholics, many of whom were Irish, during the 1950s. Social engineering had proved to be spectacularly successful in containing and diverting the dissent which inevitably arises in any capitalist economy. As Heinrich Pesch pointed out, capitalism is state-sponsored usury.See my discussion of the conflict between labor and usury in Barren Metal. Capitalism can also be characterized as the systematic appropriation of all surplus value. These two forces work hand in hand. In a debt-based economy, all surplus value ends up in the hands of the creditor, creating an ever increasing imbalance in the distribution of wealth. When governments caught up in this hopeless debt cycle run out of money, they increase taxes on essentials like fuel causing the outbreak of the modern equivalent of bread riots. This is precisely what led to the yellow vest protests in France, the more recent riots in Lebanon, and mutatis mutandis, the riots in Iran. The riots in Hong Kong were caused by usury in the housing sector.
After the collapse of capitalism in 1929, countries throughout the world instituted various forms of national socialism to contain and ameliorate capitalism’s inevitable deleterious effects. In America, that reaction went by the name of the New Deal, according to which Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to “soak the rich” as a way of re-starting the economy. In order to protect their wealth, America’s wealthiest families—symbolized best by Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie—created tax-exempt foundations, which then moved the money from manufacturing to finance, i.e., usury, thus accelerating the pernicious trend the socialists sought to arrest. Fueled by compound interest and freed from paying taxes, these tax-exempt foundations became so powerful that by the end of World War II their power rivaled, and in many cases exceeded, the power of government to control them.
In 1950, the 82nd Congress of the United States of American appointed the “Cox Committee” to look into this matter. Four years later, the Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organization, commonly known as “the Reece Committee,” because it was named after Representative B. Carroll Reece of Tennessee, was instructed to make a study of the use of such resources for “un-American and subversive activities; for political purposes, propaganda, or attempts to influence legislation.”Rene A. Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and Influence (New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1958), p. 2.
As some indication that government was no match for the foundations it had brought into existence, the Reece Committee dissolved after two weeks of deliberations largely because of the antics of Rep. Wayne Hays of Ohio, who objected to any investigation of the Rockefeller-funded Kinsey Institute. Why he was so concerned about protecting sex researcher Kinsey came to light 20 years later when Hays had to resign as a result of a sex scandal involving Elizabeth Ray, whom Hays had hired as a “secretary” in spite of the fact that she didn’t know how to type.
The power of tax-exempt foundations grew exponentially from that period to the present, mirroring perfectly the exponential growth of usurious compound interest which gave them the wherewithal to work for the oligarchic subversion of representative government and the social order. In its concluding report, the Reece Committee made clear that the term “subversion” in “contemporary usage and practice”:
does not refer to outright revolution , but to a promotion of tendencies which lead, in their inevitable consequences, to the destruction of principles through perversion or alienation. Subversion, in modern society, is not a sudden cataclysmic explosion, but a gradual undermining, a persistent chipping away at foundations upon which beliefs rest.Wormser, pp. 184-5.
The committee conceded that subversion “can easily be confused with honest, forthright criticism,” which is “not only permissible but immensely desirable” but concluded nonetheless that: “Society does not grant tax exemption for the privilege of undermining itself,” when in fact America did just that.
Over the course of the next half century, Americans were forced to the conclusion that their country had changed fundamentally and no one could explain why. In lieu of explanations, Americans got films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which appeared in theaters two years after the Reece Commission got shut down and attempted to explain why the man who looked like Uncle George was in reality someone else.
In Bad Roads, John Waters tries to explain how something similar happened at The Irish Times. Technology backed by tax-exempt foundations played a crucial role in the transformations which took place in America after World War II and in Ireland after the turn of the 21st century. What television accomplished in the United States got accomplished by the computer and internet in Ireland 60 years later.
 This and all subsequent quotes from Bring us back the Bad Roads were taken from a ms. Provided by the author. No pagination will be given.
 See my discussion of the conflict between labor and usury in Barren Metal.
 Rene A. Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and Influence (New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1958), p. 2.
 Wormser, pp. 184-5.