ANY child of seven instinctively knows right from wrong. It doesn’t mean they will always do the right thing, but they will invariably know when it should be done.
Not so adults, as evidenced by the jury in the Martin McDonagh defamation case, who awarded €900,000 in damages to a drug dealer against the newspaper that described him as such.
As last week’s Court of Appeal decision, which overturned the verdict, reveals, the jury found it less distasteful to enrich a drug dealer than to recognise the correctness of the newspaper’s position.
In unusually strong language, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan described the jury’s verdict as ‘perverse’.
That, indeed, is the nub of it — the perversion that lies at the heart of our national psyche.
Is it not perverse that the disgraced former minister, Michael Lowry, whom the Moriarty Tribunal concluded was a tax evader, should have topped the poll in his north Tipperary constituency at the last general election and is likely to do so next spring, if he chooses to run again?
Is our national passivity not perverse, considering that tiny Iceland has just jailed its 26th banker, for his role in its financial crisis, while we have only imprisoned three and bank customers are more likely to be jailed here?
For the answers, ask a seven-year-old.
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