Sunday, January 25, 2015

Marriage Opponents and the Mexican Standoff

I've often wondered what sort of folks oppose childhood vaccination. It's hard to find empathy with those who would sacrifice children's health - indeed children's very lives - on the altar of their sincerely held beliefs. You might recall a previous blog post discussed Family and Life's ventures in this area. They use their charitable tax status to spread misinformation about the HSE's MMR programme.

Today I learned that their access to high quality printing has borne fruit outside the field of encouraging childhood illnesses and restricting healthcare for Irish women and trans men. As they spread, they have mutated and focus now on restricting access to civil marriage.

Paul Bowler made the well intentioned decision to share the pamphlet on Twitter. Do follow him, even though he appears to tweet pictures while in control of a moving vehicle. You can also use the opportunity to read the text of Family and Life's efforts, assuming turgid dreariness is your thing. I compliment them on their spelling. And the choice of colours is inoffensive enough. Beyond that it's an uninspired remix of the stock scaremongering re polygamy, some misrepresentation of research, and parenting scaremongering.

What's of more interest to me is their Facebook page. Over 136 thousand likes implies they represent a sizeable chunk of potential voters in Ireland's marriage equality referendum, and, if so, they might represent some sort of cohesive body.

So I checked. is great for that sort of thing, if you're interested. Do read the full report. You'll likely share my raised eyebrow when you note how obscenely popular this Irish organisation is in Spanish speaking countries. Indeed the country where it is most popular is Mexico, not a location traditionally associated with obsession with Irish civil marriages.

Peru, despite being on another hemisphere, speaking a different language, and being separated by an ocean, still manages to supply more fans of "Ireland's Largest Pro-Life/Pro-Family Human Rights Organisation" than Ireland herself. Over an eighth of the fans of this English speaking page find their home in Argentina, and Chileans who worry that two women might receive social recognition of their loving commitment on the other side of the world make up nearly 5% of their fanbase.

Despite this unexpected success with the global Spanish speaking market, only 0.3% of those who like them on Facebook are based in Spain. Indeed their fanbase seems to overlap more neatly with locations traditionally associated with fake Facebook accounts.

But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Whatever the cause, barring significant geopolitical developments, I don't see this audience exercising much influence over the voting booths.

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