Date Published: 02-Jun-2011
The recent extraordinary television footage of Dominique Strauss Kahn as he was taken in handcuffs before a New York court and then led off to Riker’s Island, made me go back to re-read whole sections of Tom Wolfe’s book Bonfire Of The Vanities.
For the ‘perp walk’ is one of the key scenes in the book telling of the downfall of multi-millionaire bond dealer Sherman McCoy and the coverage involving Strauss Kahn showed how Wolfe had observed the unique event.
The ‘perpetrator walk’ is a crude and utterly demeaning process and is administered with no regard to who, or what, you are. And then it occurred to me that maybe we should introduce it in this country as a last resort to satisfy people like me who want – revenge!
I can think of a number of alleged ‘perpetrators’ who might be given ‘the walk’ in this country. Like the Mikado – ‘I’ve got a little list’.
With the ‘perp walk’ in the US, the formerly most powerful in the land are projected into the full glare of television and the media; they appear on prime time television in handcuffs and looking startled, dishevelled and unshaven. Those baby-soft jowls become lined and shadowed overnight.
The special circumstances and trappings of their former life, the dosh, the hotel suites, lackeys, personal assistants, chauffeur driven limousines, are withdrawn and the former ‘personality’ becomes just another defendant in a court case on which their future hangs.
Remember, we are not talking about justice here . . . this is gut instinct on my part; and, as I will explain later, it is written against some of my normally better instincts of human kindness. But, I’m prepared to bet that there are others out there who might join me in drafting that list.
I first learned about ‘the perp walk’ in Bonfire of the Vanities. By the way, it gets its name from a notorious event in history when Savonarola, the 15th century Dominican preacher monk, encouraged the nobility of Florence to renounce their sinful ways, and to show this by burning their finery and books.
They held the bonfires alright, but then went back to the sinning again and later burned him as a heretic.
Wolfe’s book deals with the fall of McCoy, who injures a black youngster in an incident in a New York backstreet, but flees the scene because with him in his Mercedes is his mistress and Sherman does not wish to risk his multi-millionaire lifestyle, huge apartment and idyllic ‘marriage’ and existence.
His world comes crashing down, however, because of a media interest whipped up into the accident by black power activists and politicians seeking re-election, and because the rarity of his sports Mercedes car helps in tracking him down.
In a matter of days, Sherman is projected from his multi-million apartment and privileged lifestyle into the ‘other world’ where he is subjected to ‘the walk’ . . . despite hiring a flash and allegedly well-connected lawyer who claims to have links to the frontline police and will, above all, spare him the humiliation of ‘the walk’.
In the case of Sherman McCoy, the definitive moment in the book is surely when he is subjected to ‘the perp walk’. He is handcuffed in front of his apartment block in central New York and ushered about the place in pouring rain which quickly ruins the ‘line’ of his very expensive suit.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.