Friday, June 08, 2007

Herd Instinct

I spent last weekend at the Kilkenny Comedy Festival. It was my best mate from uni's hen do and she currently lives in Dublin so seemed like a good excuse for a trip. Shappi Khorsandi and Reginald D Hunter were fantastic and a great time was had by all. It was a relatively modest hen do by modern standards. We had a meal, drinks and danced a bit in a local pub but there were no strippers, no accosting of strangers, no dares or sprints around the streets in our undies.

Not so Stephen Mallone who took his stag party to Slovakia where he proceeded to get arrested dancing naked in a fountain. The media coverage seems to have focussed on his future wife ("a former carnival queen" - oh please BBC, your reporters can do better than that) and her distress at the prospect of postponing the wedding while he serves time in Bratislava's local prison. Even the local MP has jumped in and appears now to have secured Mallone's release.

Personally I am in favour of locking him up. Not because naked fountain-dancing bothers me all that much (though I can imagine it was intimidating to some). But because I think taking your stag do overseas and then totally ignoring local traditions and behaving loutishly sucks. I've been to Prague twice in my life, once in 1996 when I was struck by the beauty and historical charm of the place, and once in 2005 when I was horrified to see street after street of strip clubs catering exclusively to English stag do tourists, many still roaming the streets shouting at nine or ten in the morning, clearly having been out all night.

I don't see Czecks and Slovaks (nor Poles, Estonians, etc) chasing round the streets of London demanding more beer and access to cheap lap-dancing clubs. At best it's totally unfair that we should force the very worst elements of British customs onto unsuspecting foreigners. At worst it's abusive sexual tourism.

I'd like to think my local MP spends their time following up genuine miscarriages of justice and figuring out how to address real issues like healthcare and education. And I think we should leave Stephen Mallone to rot in jail for a couple of months as an example to the others.

4 comments:

Kenny said...

Don't be killing Kenny. That worries me! :)

Abi said...

Like my very dear friend Rickbot said - "what the hell would catholic priests know? It's not like choirboys can get pregnant!"

Iceman said...

"But because I think taking your stag do overseas and then totally ignoring local traditions and behaving loutishly sucks."

I don't get why people bother going to other countries just to get drunk and act like idiots.

"I've been to Prague twice in my life, once in 1996 when I was struck by the beauty and historical charm of the place, and once in 2005 when I was horrified to see street after street of strip clubs catering exclusively to English stag do tourists, many still roaming the streets shouting at nine or ten in the morning, clearly having been out all night."

How many of them even know what the Prague Spring was or who Vaclav Havel is?

"I don't see Czecks and Slovaks (nor Poles, Estonians, etc) chasing round the streets of London demanding more beer and access to cheap lap-dancing clubs."

Richer countries are in a position to reject abusive forms of tourism, but many poorer countries need tourist revenue so badly that they tolerate them.

American college students' Spring Break trips feature a lot of the same things that go on during British stag parties. American resort communities became fed up, and now strictly enforce laws against public drunkenness, public nudity, and eight people sharing a hotel room. So a lot of the Spring Break traffic moved to Mexico and the Caribbean, where they don't do anything about those things because of the vast amount of tourist revenue it brings to countries that really need it.

Sex tourism and drug tourism (e.g. opium in Southeast Asia) are far worse problems, but many countries are well aware that they go on, and don't take more than minimal measures against them.

Cruella said...

Oh my God - they killed Kenny...

Yeah - there are some places like Vietnam that are working to do something about underage sexual tourism, although I saw a documentary recently about rent boys in Romania and there were tons of westerners going out to visit them despite them being only fourteen in some cases.

I was once on a business trip to Kiev and was taken around the city by an American banker who worked their and was explaining (to our group of 5 guys and me) how it had become much harder to get prostitutes into hotels - the hotels prefer to encourage guests to use the on-site "facilities". However he had never ever heard of the Golden Gate of Kiev...

But then again lots of places than can easily afford to get rid of it don't bother - like Japan. As Iceman and I have witnessed first-hand - business travellers are standardly taken to strip bars and worse.