The Fingal by-election is happening this Friday, 29 November. Even though this is only one small slice of Ireland, this election is important because it has consequences that could be significant for the Alt-Shite movement. If the constituency elects another Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Green Party, or Sinn Féin TD, we’ll be fine. I honestly have no skin in that game since, as you know, I live in New York City.
I, and every right-thinking person, does have skin in the game in terms of the potential election of conspiracy theorist Gemma O’Doherty. I don’t expect her to win a seat in the Dáil, but that’s hardly the point; rather, if she receives any significant number of votes, she will be buoyed to continue her campaign of insanity.
Gemma O’Doherty is more dangerous than many people think. While I know that it’s tempting to laugh at her for the many ridiculous stunts that she pulls, I urge Irish people not to write her off as a wacko. Don’t get me wrong–she is definitely a wacko. But she is a hateful, spiteful, and fucking smart as shit wacko with the potential to disrupt Irish politics.
Gemma knows what she is doing. She understands that a large group of people who care about the world, but who are under-educated and/or under-informed, are vulnerable to her peddling of conspiracies. She capitalizes on weakness and prejudice. It’s easy to believe some of the crap she says if one doesn’t have an alternative base of knowledge. For example, you can see that she believes that 5G Internet causes cancer:
It sounds plausible, doesn’t it? Ireland does have the third-highest cancer rate in the world, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. If you think 5G is “radiation” and you know that “radiation” causes cancer, you can make this leap. After all, some forms of radiation do indeed cause cancer, especially in high concentrations. Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, gamma rays, and other high-energy radiation can disrupt the DNA-replication process and result in malignant tumors. That’s 100% true. HOWEVER, 5G and low-energy radiation from cellular phones is not the kind of radiation that causes cancer. She takes advantage of people’s ignorance in order to portray herself as the lone truth-teller in a sea of corrupt politicians from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Green, Sinn Féin, etc.
She also conflates related concepts in order to portray politicians and individuals as perverse. On Facebook, she equated masturbation with paedophilia:
She promotes this notion as a criticism of the new sex-education curriculum, which will allow young people to be agents in their own sexual development–and agency will prevent actual paedophilia and actual sexual assaults. Plus, people who have knowledge will have healthier sex lives as teenagers and adults, and they will know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thus resulting in fewer unwanted children and fewer abortions. Masturbation is a healthy and safe way to explore one’s own sexual desires. With access to the Internet, kids can learn about sexuality in very unhealthy ways that will teach them incorrect notions about what a healthy sexual relationship looks like. Or, they can be given knowledge by educators in a safe environment, and they can use that knowledge to empower themselves. Sex is an important part of being human, and to deny that is to deny our own humanity. After all, very few other species engage in sex for fun. It’s part of what makes humankind unique.
The Bible is the only justification for such a point of view–and Ireland is no longer a state dominated by the Catholic hierarchy. Gemma wants to return to the bad-old-days in which John Charles McQuaid was “ruler of Catholic Ireland,” and the government took its orders from the church.
Gemma also condemns “globalism” on a near quotidian basis. Here’s a representative statement that she posted to Facebook today:
Lots of “scary” words here, right? Ooooh, the boogeyman is coming with “Big Pharma” and “Satanic worship” and vaccines! HIDE YOUR CHILDREN!!!
No, really: abortion is a medical procedure. LGBTQ+ people are, well, people who live their lives peacefully. Vaccines save billions of lives. Fluoride improves dental health. Climate change isn’t a hoax. I guess we can all get behind the idea that “degeneracy” is bad, but I think Gemma would define it differently than most sane, right-thinking people. Fast food…well, I’m not going to defend that one, but I condemn it on the grounds of animal cruelty, abuse of workers, and promotion of obesity (I’m honestly not sure why Gemma hates fast food).
Glyphosate and “Big Pharma” deserve a bit of time, though. Gemma’s attack on glyphosate is one reason why she is so smart and so dangerous. Glyphosate is an herbicide, which kills plants; because plants have different cellular structures than humans, pure glyphosate is actually rather harmless to people. But, glyphosate is usually combined with other chemicals, and those chemicals make glyphosate more toxic to humans. Gemma isn’t wrong about this one; she doesn’t lie about everything. Less savvy consumers of media might then be inclined to think that she is telling the truth about other things, too. But just because one idea isn’t a lie doesn’t imply that her other notions have truth. Be careful.
As for “Big Pharma”….she thinks that pharmaceutical companies have an agenda to promote “unsafe” vaccines. Do companies make some money off of vaccines? Yeah, they do, but vaccines actually aren’t the major source of income for these companies. New drugs, that retain their patent, are the most expensive products and the biggest cash cows for pharmaceutical companies. This is a big part of why companies continue to research and produce new, and more effective, prescription drugs. People can live with HIV because of pharmaceutical companies. I don’t love how expensive drugs are, especially in the United States if you lack health insurance. But, this is where capitalism is a force for good: most life-saving medications are developed in the United States, where they are most profitable. I don’t like that people have become uber-rich by gauging people for medications that will save their lives; it’s somewhat unethical because we all know that most people will shell out any amount of money to save their own life or the life of someone they love. Still, profit is a powerful motivator. Gemma is misguided here, but major companies are also an easy mark, and attacking corporations is a line that cuts across class divisions and political allegiances. Again: she’s smart. Don’t fall for this nonsense. Vaccines save lives.
Also, Gemma harasses peaceful, private citizens, such as the owners and employees of a small halal meat shop. Look, I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 25 years. I truly hate meat. I hate the meat industry. I have no love for pork producers (I do, however, have love for pigs. They’re cute and very smart). But it’s way out of line to walk into a butcher shop with a camera and ask for pork, and when she is told they don’t have pork, Gemma asks “why not?” using as justification for her stupid question the fact that she is in Ireland, and “Irish people” allegedly love pork. There are plenty of Irish vegetarians and vegans and Jews and Muslims who don’t love pork, but that’s not really the point at all. (Although she wouldn’t consider Jews and Muslims to be Irish, regardless of their birth or parentage.) You can view this video here:
So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking Gemma O’Doherty is crazy but ultimately harmless. She is savvy; she knows how to fool vulnerable people into supporting her. She capitalizes on people’s weaknesses and prejudices for her own personal gain. Stop her while you can, before Ireland has its own version of Donald Trump.
Vote for literally anyone except Gemma if you vote in Fingal.