I was hoping to get a chance to vote for David Norris for the Irish presidency. He was doing so well, in terms of popular choice - I think it would have been a real turning point for Ireland to have him as a president. Mary Robinson was wonderful, I don't really know about Mary MacAleese, but I think he would have been a good choice, as an intellectual, emotionally aware, outspoken modern thinker.
The papers dragged up all sorts of statements he made previously about not agreeing with the age of consent, and there was this:
The quotes were taken out of context and built up into something completely incendiary.
He seemed to sail over that one relatively undamaged, but then the stronger guns came out - it seems in 1992, Norris wrote a letter asking for clemency for an ex partner convicted of the statutory rape of a 15 year old boy.
On Seanad Headed Notepaper, no less.
There is outrage. Norris supports child abuser. On headed notepaper! Rape is rape is rape, shriek the shrieky people.
From different things I read, there are these bits of information - Norris seemed to have felt that Nawi had been set up a bit. The age of consent in Israel is 16. Did he know? Was there a wee bit of entrapment involved? Another article I read mentioned a relationship. Does this mean Nawi is a sleazy and cynical exploiter of gay youth? Does it mean he had a genuine, if misguided romance? I don't know, in fairness. Norris questioned the validity of the impact statement made at the time. Nawi is seen in some circles as a hero, a mediator, a Jew who speaks out against the injustices he sees his government perpetuating. He's been targeted before.
Norris was already struggling, not with the public vote, but with the political system that makes it very difficult for independents to get into the presidential race. He and his campaigners have been accused of naivety. Maybe. I don't know. I wish it didn't have to matter.
Here are the things that I feel about this. I am wary of being too quick to support the act in question here - after all, I don't know the real details any more than the shriekers do. I do know this though - I had sex when I was 15 and it was emphatically not rape, despite the fact that it would legally have been termed statutory rape. Ok, it wasn't with an older person but had I made that choice to sleep with someone years my senior at the time, I wouldn't have appreciated my choice being rephrased by anyone else. I feel concretely certain about this, whatever the hypothetical person's motivations might have been. I also suspect gay sex to have its own cultural signature, that is perhaps not directly comparable to hetero sex, but hey, I suppose that's murky water to start wading into.
I'm not saying Nawi made a great decision, but I am open to the idea that it's possible that the the teenager in question was not damaged by it and I wish people were a little less hysterical about the whole idea.
I also would have loved to have Norris as our president. I think it would have said a lot for our modernity, for how far we've come. I think he would have been a gracious, humorous, wonderful spokesperson for our country.
But, well, we fucked him over instead. And who will replace him in the running instead?: Dana. Good old Dana. I suppose we're getting what we deserve.