Category: Frontpage Articles
Last Updated: Monday, 16 June 2014 21:07
Published: Saturday, 14 June 2014 13:50
Written by Naomi Dowds
Social censures always appear in the form of the vernacular, are emotive, and evoke knee-jerk reactions. The application of the derogatory slang term knacker to Irish Travellers, an indigenous nomadic minority ethnic group, is thought to derive from the association that horses have with Traveller culture. Originally the word knacker was used to describe a person who worked at the “knacker’s yard” where old horses were brought (to be disposed of) when they were no longer useful as working animals. When the term knacker is used today it is not describing any particular behaviour but is referring to what Travellers represent to settled Irish people – unruly, passionate/irrational, immoral, dangerous “others”.
Meanwhile the Irish social censure of abortion appears to be an expression of cultural disapproval regarding the termination of foetuses in utero which designates women as the focus of blame. Furthermore this censure is clearly “irredeemably suffused” with patriarchal Catholic ideology, its moral judgements concerning pleasure, desire and sexuality, and especially its condemnation of pregnancy outside marriage, which reflects its political agenda to control Irish society. This article will examine the social censure of Irish Travellers and the Irish social censure of abortion, in each case outlining how these social censures relate to Irish history and social structure.