Thursday, August 21, 2008

Irish police and US police

Growing up in Ireland, I was used to the Irish police (the "Gardai") as a very benign force. They do not carry guns, mostly are seen directing traffic or picking up drunks off the ground, or giving directions to tourists.

When someone becomes a Garda (police officer) in Ireland, they are moved around to a different part of the country, partly so that they do not show favoritism to their local friends and family. This means that the police in Dublin are mostly from "down the country", i.e. rednecks in the view of Dubliners. They are then portrayed as clueless country bumpkins.

In the US, the police carry guns, of course, and partly for that reason are given more respect.

Police in the US also are provided with extra "cultural sensitivity training", particularly recently to take Muslim sensitivities into account. Police in Ireland would generally just ride roughshod over "cultural differences", like Irish people in general do, often unwittingly causing offense but doing it with a grin which says "sure aren't we all the same really".

So, it was interesting to read this post about Irish police on Dublin Opinion. It was about someone whose job is to provide the artwork which hangs on Irish Garda Station (Police Station) walls:

He told me that in one station they rejected a picture because of it subject matter.

It was a still life of a food platter with a large side of ham.

Asked why, the Garda explained that they can’t have pictures of any pork-related food stuff on the wall.

At this point, I am thinking "Maybe Irish police are starting to be sensitive to Muslim sensitivities, and could not have a large painting of a side of ham on the wall".

But no, the reason was:

“The people coming in here would laugh their asses off!"

Footnote: So the Irish police pay to have someone put art on their walls. In the US, this would be seen as an example of "Pork" :-)

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