Let Them Bite in Berlin

This is a strange case of cultural enrichment in Germany. The alleged perpetrator of the biting incident in Berlin is from Eritrea, but his first name (Daniel) is not generally used by Muslims. He is being pegged as mentally ill, and in this particular case, it may well be an accurate diagnosis, based on the descriptions of his other crimes.

Many thanks to MissPiggy for translating this article from B.Z.:

Berlin: Eritrean bites five-year-old in the face in front of her mother

At the tram stop in front of Berlin’s main train station (center), he picked up a five-year-old child and bit her on the cheek. Now Daniel K. (20) stands before the Berlin Regional Court.

“The tooth marks were on my daughter’s cheek for two days,” says mother Aileen D. (40) as a witness. The biting attack took place on March 15, 2019 at about 4.55 pm.

“We had come by train from Nuremberg, just three minutes in Berlin,” the mother continued. “I waited with my two daughters for the M10. The man approached us smiling, took the little one in his arms. I had the feeling that he thought she was just cute and cuddly. I thought the lifting might be a cultural thing for him. It looked as if he wanted to kiss her. But she cried, he bit.”

This wasn’t the first time that the Eritrean man has arbitrarily attacked strangers on the street. He also attacked a Zalando employee. A month earlier, Anastasia S. (26) had an eerie encounter with the man on Marchlewskistraße in Berlin-Friedrichshain. “I went to work in the morning; he asked for a cigarette,” said the Zalando manager. “When I said I didn’t have cigarettes, he threw stones between my legs and followed me.

In Warsaw Street he picked up and threw a heavy concrete block. “He could have really done something to someone with it,” the witness said. Daniel K. was arrested on that occasion, but he was immediately released again.

Not guilty because of mental illness

He was only remanded in custody in March after the biting attack at the main station. He has been in hospital for two months. He is said not to be guilty due to mental illness.

The public prosecutor’s office is striving for his permanent accommodation in a psychiatric hospital.

An Overview of the Islamization of Europe

Regular readers will remember Jose Atento of the Brazilian blog Lei Islâmica em Ação, who has been translating material and sending reports for the past few years. Last weekend in Quebec I was interviewed by Mr. Atento, and he has translated my remarks into Portuguese for a Brazilian audience. He also translated his Portuguese introduction into English.

Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for the recording and subtitling:

Video transcript:

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Jihad in France: Running With Scissors

It was “Allahu Akhbar” time early in the morning at a school in France, when a mostly naked culture-enricher stabbed and punched two cafeteria workers before being chased down and captured by police. The unfortunate youth evidently has mental issues.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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More on the Knife Jihad in Villeurbanne

As I reported last weekend, yet another mentally disturbed culture-enricher went on a murderous rampage while invoking the name of someone called Allah. This time it was with a knife in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon, and the alleged perpetrator (now in custody) is an Afghan.

Below is an update about the incident from the state prosecutor in Lyon. Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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A Return to Normalcy

This post was a “sticky” feature, first posted last Monday, and was on top throughout fundraising week. Scroll down for more recent items, including the killing of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, a Swedish municipal bus used as a mosque, an essay on Björn Höcke and the AfD, Onan driving a Swedish bus, two reports on the sword murder in Stuttgart, the latest on Matteo Salvini, and last night’s news feed.

Summer Fundraiser 2019, Day Six

Saturday’s update

OK, folks we’ve arrived at the weekend. The Summer fundraiser is almost over, and normal programming will soon resume.

Tip jarThe theme of this week’s bleg is the return to normalcy, that is, to routine. During any given fundraising week, donations from Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Australia are routine. But three of yesterday’s locations definitely are not part of the routine: Israel, New Zealand, and Newfoundland. We get a few donors here and there from the first two — just a few — but as far as I know, we only get one from up there by the Grand Banks.

So here’s to the outliers! Thank you for making the donation statistics that much more variegated and entertaining.

For those of you who are just joining us: this is how I keep this blog alive. When Dymphna was still with us, she would share posting chores with me, regaling potential donors on alternate mornings with her wit and whimsy to persuade them to hit the tip cup on the sidebar (or this link) and contribute to the upkeep of the site — and to keep its proprietors from going hungry for another quarter.

Now there’s just one proprietor, but I still need your help to stay out of the bread line.

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Gates of Vienna has its own weekly rhythm, its own pattern of routine. Or, rather, it used to.

In the early years of this website I was working in Richmond. I would drive down there during the week and come home on weekends. During those few days I spent at home I had the luxury of writing posts and participating in the blog to an extent that I couldn’t match during the week.

Back in those days, I designated Saturday as either Ranting Day or Poetry Day, depending on my mood. If it was time to rant, I could include a graphic of the Ranting Man, as seen here on the left. I love the Ranting Man, and I reserve him for special occasions, not wanting to squander him gratuitously (as I have just now done).

But this Saturday is Poetry Day. And, in honor of the first fundraiser without Dymphna, I’ll feature one of her poems.

Dymphna was an accomplished poet. She only had a few published, in local newspapers and college magazines, but she left behind a rich legacy of unpublished work.

The poem below tells a true story. She wrote it almost a quarter-century ago, shortly after the events it describes. We had somehow acquired a rooster, as a favor to a friend. His harem of hens had been attritted to nothing, and we agreed to give the sorrowful fellow a home. For a while.

He turned out to be an annoyingly violent #$&#!?%! as a guest. Those spurs on his legs were vicious — one time he cut a long slash in my pants leg. So we only kept him for a while; we passed him on to an elderly country woman who had lengthy experience with roosters, and knew how to keep them in line.

I’ll let Dymphna tell the rest of the story:

Rooster Lessons

by Dymphna

He was quintessential pride:
Quick, iridescent and verbose.
His auburn head cocked to look
At me, his comb trembling,
The rumble of his song,
The macho tilt of his tail feathers—
I was enchanted.

Never trust a rooster
Who’s been deposed.
He has problems with attachment,
And the angry edginess
Gives way to bilious melancholy,
As befits a man bereft
Of his women and position.
There is no cure.

How much his chicken brain
Retained of his former life
Is hard to say.
To be unchosen is lonely enough;
To be deposed is a worse fate:
The shame of losing face, place,
With no one to crow for…
An autarch cannot live so.

Our rooster didn’t even try.
He crowed despairingly at odd hours.
He left the cat alone,
But the rest of us were targets
For his rage and loneliness.
Going outside, however stealthily,
Brought him running sideways,
Wings spread, spurs ready.
He gouged a neighbor’s dog.

Held hostage by a rooster.
We eyed each other:
Him on the porch,
Me behind the storm door.
He in rage,
Me in speculation.
How to douse this feathered fire?

Ah, modern medicine:
I waited for him to wander off
And mixed a batch of wheat germ —
His favorite grain —
With a healthy dose of Klonopin
And quickly spread it on the porch floor

Dumb bird ate it all,
Brown and pink fragments
Disappearing down his greedy beak.
Becalmed, he let himself be led
To start another life,
Penned in with guinea fowl.
I hope he finds some solace there.

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Friday’s gifts came in from:

Stateside: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Hampshire

Far Abroad: Israel, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland

Australia: New South Wales

Friday’s update

The action in the tip cup (or at this link) really livened up yesterday after Western Rifle Shooters posted a link to this week’s bleg.

Tip jarA WRSA link often causes a sudden, distinct surge of donations. I can sometimes deduce what’s happening even before I see the post over there — I can tell by the fact that most of the new gifts come in from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, North Dakota, and other locations out there on the Wild Frontier.

So thank you, WRSA. And a special thank-you to WRSA readers who came over here.

The issue of the right to keep and bear arms is looming large in American culture and politics right now, due to the recent mass shootings. Such events always induce a mad rush towards gun control, even among Republicans. When that happens, devotees of the Second Amendment hurry out to buy more guns and ammo before the next anti-gun law is passed.

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The theme of this week’s fundraiser is the return to normalcy. I’ve talked about personal normalcy — that is, my finding a new routine in the midst of grieving — and I’ve talked about the lunacy that passes as the new “normal” in 21st-century politics.

This morning I’ll cover normalcy as it applies to Gates of Vienna. Long-time readers have already heard about the routine workflow at this website, so they can skip this overview if they wish. But newcomers may be interested.

Besides the news feed, there are three principal functions that I strive to perform here: (1) Posting original articles and essays on Counterjihad matters and other topics of interest; (2) Posting translated articles and essays that might otherwise not be available in English; and (3) Creating translated and subtitled videos.

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We Were Socialists Once… and Young

The Deplorable Wing of the Internet — which is where I usually hang out — has been convulsing itself with mirth for the past couple of days over the shenanigans at the Democratic Socialists of America convention that was held last weekend in Atlanta.

If you watch enough footage from the event, it becomes clear that there is only one commandment in the Socialist catechism: “Thou shalt not trigger a comrade.” All other policies are simply elaborations on, extensions of, and footnotes to this woke mantra. Social justice stuff is what doesn’t trigger them, so that’s what they do. Anything that runs counter to it triggers the comrades to varying degrees, making them hightail it to their safe spaces to recover their composure.

It’s not surprising that the non-canonical use of gendered pronouns was a central preoccupation of the convention. See this Fox News report for more on this important topic.

Below are three videos with highlights and commentary on last weekend’s events in Atlanta. The first includes a selection of brief excerpts that provide an overview of what the policy wonks at the DSA consider really, really important:

The second clip contains an exhortation by a moderator about triggering, and how not to do it. Notice that just before the end he inadvertently uses the word “trump”, and then realizes the gravity of his error. That must have been a Category 5 triggering event for his audience:

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So Do You Have to Be Crazy to Convert to Islam?

Over and over again we learn that Muslims who commit atrocities in the name of their faith suffer from psychological problems. But what about converts to Islam? Are they also lunatics?

So do you have to be crazy to convert to Islam?

by SF

Historically, before Muhammad, the countries of Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco were 100% Christian, while Iran was 100% Zoroastrian. Now, after Muhammad, they are all nearly 100% Muslim. So what happened?

If you ask a Muslim (or a Muslim-enabler in the EU or the Democrat Party), he will gladly tell you that this is “proof” of how Islam is “superior and preferable” to Christianity.

But how does history itself answer that question?

Well, clearly, if Islam conquers your non-Muslim country, then you are inevitably (sooner or later) totally screwed. Islam is a supremacist “religion”. Only Muslims, as the beloved of Allah, are true human beings, while all non-Muslims are less than fully human. When Muslims conquer your non-Muslim country, you lose all your wealth, property, and possessions to the Muslims (unless they first choose to enslave you or kill you outright). You and your children then become permanent second-class people, despised, degraded, humiliated, impoverished, and marginalized. Islam is like a boa constrictor: it starts squeezing you and never stops.

But there is a way out: convert! Islam is indeed supremacist, but it welcomes all comers, and by converting, you regain your rights and status.

Clearly, this “carrot and stick” method was incredibly successful in the countries that Islam conquered. One technique they used was to first approach the non-Muslim peasants, and tell them that they could become the new masters if they converted. Then they approached the defeated ruling class, and told them that if they did not convert, then their former slaves would become their new masters. This was quite effective. It is hypothesized that most Hindu converts to Islam came from the “untouchable” caste.

But, as they say, that was then and this is now. Who converts to Islam nowadays in a Western country, where Muslims cannot force you? Hardly anyone. The men who do so are all unsuccessful, resentful losers, many with a prison background. They convert because they believe that they can acquire a new sense of self-worth; and that even better, they now become justified by Allah in seeking revenge on their non-Muslim former oppressors. (So if someone proudly tells you that he just converted to Islam, then run away, because otherwise the next thing you know he might be holding your severed head in his hand, while recording it for the internet!)

It is more surprising that even some women convert to Islam. They turn out to be ones who feel lost, have little self-respect and self-worth, and want to be “owned” (like when they were children living with their parents), so that Islam (like any good cult) provides them with meaning, importance, identity, community, and a rigid, secure social structure.

Previous posts by SF:

2019   Jul   18   Is America Heading Towards a Second Civil War?
        26   How Do Muslims Justify Emigrating to Non-Muslim Nations?
 

Space Aliens or Mohammed Made Him Do It — Take Your Pick

Watch all the way to the end of this video (and read all the way to the end of the article) to get to the punch line.

Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this news clip:

This is one of those cases where a psychotic fruitcake was drawn to Islam and converted. Or possibly it was Islam that made him psychotic — who knows?

Below are excerpts from the accompanying Fox43 article:

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They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha!

The urge to create the above image was prompted by the latest of uncountably many incidents in which a Muslim perpetrator of an atrocity was identified as having mental problems. In this particular case, it was a Tunisian man in Sweden who was described as having “psychological problems” after he stabbed an elderly Jewish woman and then fled the country.

The general rule seems to be this: If (1) there is a single perpetrator acting alone, and (2) his victims are unrelated to him and not among his acquaintances, then he has “psychological problems”. The incidence of the application of this rule by the media seems to be approaching 100%. When was the last time you read a news report about a “lone wolf” mujahid where he was not described as “having a history of psychological problems”, or words to that effect?

Contrast this practice with the immediate and routine description (often without evidence) of any white non-Muslim who commits an atrocity as a “racist”, a “Trump supporter”, a “white supremacist”, a “right-wing extremist”, etc. In other words, the motive for the deed is always described in ideological terms. But if the perpetrator is Muslim, the initially assigned motive is never ideological — as if adherence to Islam were not in fact evidence of adherence to an extreme political ideology.

Mind you, that doesn’t make the description wrong. Devout adherence to Islam is quite clearly a form of mental illness. Either people with mental problems are drawn to Islam, or being exposed to Islamic doctrine induces mental illness. Or both.

(Feel free to use the graphic for meme pics.)

A Little Bit of Tunisia in Sweden

The following report was published earlier at Fousesquawk in a slightly different form.

Tunisian Man Reportedly Charged With Knife Attack on Jewish Woman in Sweden

by Fousesquawk

Hat tip JC, Fria Tider and Nyheter Idag

Back in May, a Jewish woman in her 60s was severely stabbed in the Swedish town of Helsingborg. A suspect, not further identified, was quickly arrested in Denmark, where he had allegedly fled after the attack. At the time, the public was assured that this was not a hate crime and had nothing to do with religion.

Now it is being reported that the man who is charged with the crime is of Tunisian origin. The article below from Fria Tider has been translated by Fousesquawk.

Tunisian Behind Knife Attack Against Jewish Woman

June 3, 2019

Domestic: A 30-year-old man of Tunisian origin has now been charged for the brutal knife attack against an older woman in Helsingborg. The woman belonged to the Jewish congregation.

It was in the middle of May that the world’s critical attention was turned toward Sweden after a woman in her 60s belonging to the Jewish congregation was severely stabbed in Helsingborg.

The act occurred in the morning when the woman was on her way to work.

Within a day, the police seized a suspected perpetrator in Denmark, but they did not want to release any details about the man.

The Israeli media, however, who were interested in the case the same day because of the woman’s Jewish affiliation, quickly published information that the suspect was a Muslim man.

The information came from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and also said that the suspect was previously known to the Swedish police.

Today, a man in his 30s has been charged for the brutal knife attack.

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Police Terrorise Tommy Robinson Again

Paul Weston’s fisking of the Greater Manchester Thugs Police is dictionary-perfect.

What precisely is the point of the useless royal eunuchs who pretend to preside over a country and yet permit lawlessness not only to exist but to prevail? This on-going mess has turned me into an anti-monarchist. There’s not enough pomp and circumstance to cover this Greek tragedy in what has become a third-world, unsafe, and bitter green isle.

Paul is more eloquent than I in describing the high crimes and misdemeanors of the police enforcers:

May God have mercy on them all.

And Yet Another Symptom…

Once more Tucker Carlson’s people go out and about to film the homeless human wreckage on the West Coast while he adds commentary. I like the way he stays off the screen for the most part.

[I was under the impression he was a California native, but it turns out Carlson was born and raised in the D.C. area. Back in November, his home was attacked by a bunch of speech suppressors while his wife was there, alone. The Antifa mob managed to break the front door before police arrived.]

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This time he opens with California’s boat people but then moves quickly on to Eugene, Oregon, where he finds some hope.

Eugene, a smaller city, has a college, making it a liberal bastion. But it also has a group of Vincent de Paul workers who have set up tents for the homeless. Unlike my experience with the Salvation Army – a hard-working group in Charlottesville – the Vincent de Paul workers take in the drunks and drugged out. That’s quite impressive and unusual. Like Jordan Peterson’s advice on how to take charge of your life, the workers do require that beds be made and personal gear be stored away. The large tents they use appear to be old military surplus equipment.

I wish they’d had a longer interview. When I was first placed in an orphanage, the whole routine was healing in the long run. And it included making our beds each morning. The experience made me love routine. This all-too-brief interview left me wanting to know more about the program. [For some reason, I keep thinking of an early poem of the Baron’s titled The Decay of the Social Fabric in Tidewater VA…can’t find it in my files, though.]

For those who are interested, here’s more information on St. Vinnie’s, as they call it.

Another Symptom of Our Growing Social Problem

This is the third in a series by Tucker Carlson on homelessness. He is focusing on the west coast, but the social evil is ubiquitous. [I searched in vain for the second part of the series yesterday. If anyone finds it, please leave a link in the comments.]

In my experience with the homeless, the issues he mentions – mental illness and broken families – are all too true. The roots of those causes are deep and difficult to unravel. For those I worked with who were using only their prescribed medications, family shunning was common and long-standing.

Very often mental illnesses don’t show up until mid-or-late adolescence. When it occurs, families are not prepared to deal with the attendant out-of-control behavior; their child has become a strange monster. Send a teenager to his room? He’ll break up the house. Impulsive, destructive behavior escalates as the mental problems increase. Unprepared families have no idea how to cope. For intact families not riven with their own unresolved issues, things can be turned around but it’s a painful process.

One grassroots group, NAMI, has been particularly effective in resourcing help. This is not a government bureaucracy:

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of more than 500 local affiliates who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

I found our local group and wanted to attend so I could figure out how to effectively help my daughter. She died of a methadone overdose the day I’d chosen for my first visit. I never had the heart to go back.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle, there are unexpected consequences. One is
contaminated seafood:

As more and more American communities grapple with opioid addiction, the human toll of the epidemic has grown in both scope and severity. And now, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found evidence that drug’s impact has literally flowed downstream to affect marine life, as well.

Specifically, they used mussels as a barometer of pollution in the waters off Seattle and discovered that oxycodone is now present enough in the marine environment there for shellfish to test positive.

The surge in homelessness has many causes. The hollowing out of the American family is one. And the loss of manufacturing jobs which led eventually to the opioid crisis is another. When meaning is lost, people will find substitutes.

I hope Tucker Carlson builds on what he learns about homelessness in America. And I also hope he addresses, however briefly, the surge in the “retired” population, many of whom live in their vans or cars, moving from job to job.

It’s not just a California/west coast problem.

An Old Tale for the Feast of Saint Dymphna

This essay first appeared in 2005 on my old blog. A reader from the past suddenly turned up with a reminder that today is May 15th, Dymphna’s Day – I had forgotten; May has continued to clutter up with remembrances as the years fly on.

So here’s the post resurrected from its original spot and planted as is, or was, though some of the nonessential facts are no longer au courant.

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The saints’ stories were among my favorites growing up. I don’t mean the anemic virgins-and-martyrs-eaten-by-lions books, illustrated with men and women lifting their eyes heavenwards as the lions stalked them in the background, waiting for the blessing of the food before they ate it. Nor did St. Sebastian, his body full of arrows, hold my attention, other than a brief look —“yikes”— and turn the page, please.

There were lots of men and women who were canonized for more mundane reasons than dying for their faith and it was their stories which attracted me. In my house, being full as it was of expatriate Dubliners, St. Patrick had pride of place. My mother never quite got over the fact that while New York City and Savannah had large parades on his feast day, the rest of the country used it as an excuse to drink green beer. In Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, in serious honor to his name, the bars were all closed and the churches were open.

Alongside St. Patrick there was St. Bridgid. Early on, the Catholic Church had a rough gender equality; frequently a male saint had a companion female saint. They usually knew one another. To my mind, some of them probably got up to a little hanky-panky: the intensity of the holy can do that. One thinks of Heloise and Abelard, those star-crossed lovers who veered from the paths of holiness, dropping off into the ravines of fleshly distractions. In Spain, St. Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross were friends. He was the more mystic of the two; she was the reformer.

The thing is, the desire for union with God and the desire for union with another human being arise from the same root — the urge for transcendence, for flight from our solitary experience, for immortality. Given our differing temperaments, predilections, and experiences we can diverge in many ways from the usual paths of what the Church used to term “vocation.” The idea was not that we chose what we would do with our lives; instead we were to listen to that small inner voice in order to be given our marching orders. Within evangelical circles, I believe the term “calling” refers particularly to some kind of ministry. Back in the old pre-Vatican II days, it meant that you were supposed to have divine assistance in trying to figure out what you were going to do with this, your one and only life. Some of those choices were limited; now there are almost no limits at all and young people freeze in the quandary of too much choice and too little direction. Saint Dymphna’s situation was familiar: her “vocation” was not what she chose but rather what was forced upon her by circumstance.

But before we consider her story, let’s discuss its veracity. The oral tradition surrounding Saint Dymphna probably points to a real person, given some of the artifacts. In Roman Catholic terms, the relics of Dymphna are considered “first class” relics. But that’s hardly important here since we are talking about a mythos which likely formed around an all-too-familiar story, a situation which repeated itself through the generations in many areas of Europe (the story is too old to call these “countries” in the modern sense). There are similarly named women with comparable stories in Ireland and in Germany.

Since we can’t know for sure, and since there seem to be physical remnants of someone in a final resting place, I choose to envision Dymphna as real. For lack of a better term, call her my transitional object. But that’s my meaning: you can read her story and decide its significance for yourself. I am merely the teller of the tale. Since there are variations in the stories, I have chosen to present the dominant narrative while appropriating elements from various accounts.

Dymphna was born in the 7th century (a contemporary of Mohammed, though as far from Allah’s servant as one can be and still exist on the same planet). She was the daughter of an Irish chieftain father, Damon, and an unnamed Christian mother. At least this is how most stories present her parentage. Since Patrick knew intimately the clan system in Ireland his strategy was to convert all the chieftains first, knowing the rest would follow (a good strategy. It worked with Constantinople). Thus, it’s likely Damon was in fact a Christian, though this takes some of the luster off the shamrock. To get around the problem of his obviously murderous tendencies, he is often portrayed as a pagan rather than a Christian. Hagiography is not history.

The tragedy opens when Dymphna is an adolescent. Her mother dies, leaving behind a deeply grieving widower and his daughter. The solution for his bereavement, suggested by his councilors, is to find a replacement for dead wife. The king agrees to this advice and begins the search for a successor to his wife.

He had only two stipulations: the candidate must be nobly born and she must resemble his dead wife. Having lived among Celts all my life, I don’t find the latter requirement to be very difficult — there can be a sameness running through some of us — but it was a problem for the chieftain . After searching the kingdom — and several other clans, who knows? — no woman was presented who qualified on both counts. The king (King, Chieftain, it’s all the same. Ask an Irishman and he’ll tell you he’s “Irish all the way back to the Kings”) grew ever more melancholy until (as you guessed) his eye fell upon his daughter. She fit both requirements: she was both nobly born and she was, most unfortunately for her, the spitting image of her mother. Problem solved. Damon would marry his child.

Dymphna, let us say, demurred. Her immediate response? Probably “Yecch!” or its Gaelic equivalent. The notion of marrying one’s own father may be a genetically hard-wired disinclination; it may be that and an admixture of social conditioning about what one does or does not do with one’s elders. Whatever the reason, Dymphna declined. She declined repeatedly. When push came to shove, Dymphna did the intelligent and courageous thing: she left for parts unknown. Even though her flight failed to save her, I’ll explain later why it was a smart move, however flawed it may have been in its execution.

It was also a good strategy to take others with her. There is a safety in numbers when you are fleeing someone dangerous. This is not universally true, of course, but to this day it remains a good idea to move en tourage, especially if those around you are devoted to your safety. Dymphna took her elderly confessor, Gerebemus — and some versions claim she also fled with the court jester and his wife. This strikes me as an anachronism. Did Irish chieftains maintain court jesters in the 6th century? Given what we know about the temperament of Irish chieftains, a jester in his court would seem to be an occupation with a short shelf life. And if this couple did go along we hear nothing further of them once Ireland has been left behind.

When they come aground, Dymphna and Gerebemus are in Antwerp. They move on from there to the town of Gheel, or Geel, some twenty-five miles away. Once there, Dymphna set up some kind of hermitage for herself and for Gerebemus. A Catholic church was already in existence so Dymphna’s arrival would not have been untoward. A devout, wealthy woman could well have been a welcome addition in a small town.

In short order, Dymphna was reputed to have healing powers. Being a foreigner, this power would more likely be conferred upon her than it would have been to someone known to the inhabitants from childhood. And her resources, which enabled her to purchase the poultices and powders for healing, would have added to her reputation for curing the sick. However, it was the use of her wealth which allowed her father to track her down. Sending out his minions to trace the path of the gold coins used along her route of escape — his gold coins — it wasn’t difficult to find an errant daughter. In short order, the Irish chieftain faced his prey.

Once more Dymphna was given her choice: marriage to her father or death. Gerebemus, her old confessor, attempted to ward off the King. He was summarily executed. Dymphna was adamant: she wouldn’t marry her father and she was going to remain where she was. Her father beheaded Dymphna then and there and returned to Ireland, leaving his daughter’s body and that of Gerebemus where they lay.

One account I read a few years ago (and cannot find) said that the townspeople were so remorseful at having failed to protect Dymphna, and felt so keenly their loss, that they entombed the bodies together and built a shrine in their memory. As it goes in these stories, accounts of miraculous cures began to accumulate, enough of them over a long enough period of time that eventually a church was built in Dymphna’s honor and her remains were placed there (those of Gerebemus were by most accounts removed to Kanten, though Sonsbeck, Germany claims his relics, except for his head, which supposedly remains with Dymphna in Gheel). The church burned in 1489 and was rebuilt in 1532. It still stands.

At some point, probably in the 17th century, an asylum was established in Gheel, no doubt partly based on the fact that the shrine to Saint Dymphna was alleged to have cured people with epilepsy and emotional ailments. Like Dymphna herself, though, this hospital was no ordinary venture. When patients arrive in Gheel, they are institutionalized for observation and then gradually released into the community to live and work among the townspeople. This unique (and I use the word advisedly since I know of no other such arrangement between consensual reality and lunacy) seems to have great efficacy.

Other countries came to study the Gheel model. Whether it translates to anywhere else is questionable, however. Remember that Gheel’s original response, all those centuries ago, was one of remorse for having failed to protect a young girl from a horrible death at the hands of her father. In our “so-sorry” culture, where the rush to forgive the tyrant while the victims lie bleeding, such a transplant is probably not possible.

Dymphna was not a victim. She failed to achieve her freedom, but she never knuckled under and she refused to be cowed by a homicidally melancholic father. No, Dymphna is a victor. Her life is proof that there are worse things than dying. Her decision to leave an intolerable situation was wise. Her lack of cunning in using the gold coins which permitted her determined “lover” to find her is often repeated today when abused women run, only to be tracked down by their trail of credit card receipts.

The original appended notes are below the fold.

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