Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Partying While Haiti Burns

Should wealthy cruise-goers be allowed to party in Haitan waters while bodies are piling up in the streets? To be honest, I really don’t see why not. If the journalist was asking asking whether wealthy retirees at Labadee Beach should party or go to the aid of the stricken population, that would be another matter.

But the question seems to be simply whether they should party there, or up anchor and go party somewhere else. Well, what’s the difference?

In fact, given that the 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas cruise liner is delivering food aid, and given that most of its rich passengers will likely be guilted into making large donations themselves, their presence on the island may even be a good thing.

This weird convergence of inequality, proximity and morality is something I’ve wondered about since I was in Rio a few years ago. There the standard gap-year-liberal-middle class-bullshit artist thing to do, while chatting up drunk American girls in the hostel bar, was to remark that it was obscene to see such extremes of wealth and poverty side by side.

The implication being, I suppose, that it was no problem to be obscenely wealthy – which all of us were compared to the average citizen of that city – provided you couldn’t see a favela from your own front door. (We only posed for snaps outside them during our year-long, piss up holidays.)

In a globalised world, when one is in a position to help another person, does it matter whether they are next door or on the other side of the world?

[P.S. That’s not a rhetorical question. If someone has an answer, I’d be very interested in hearing it. Also I’m not trying to claim any moral high ground either. Since the earthquake in Haiti nine days ago, I’ve probably spend ten time more on socialising than I donated to the appeal. It’s just a question that’s been on my mind.]

January 21st, 2010.

10 Responses to “Partying While Haiti Burns”

  1. cosmo Says:


    no answers!!!!

    Niall Mellon charges two grand to go over to some country,and build houses or tefl.
    Now whats to stop me,buying an auld rundown shack in ejypt or ghana or one of these palces,a shed and putting chairs there and a blackboard and calling it a school.
    Id have no problem finding thirty young fellas and young ones to sit in my class.
    Theyd be happy their mothers and fathers would be happy,job oxo.
    Then I charge some foolish young buck money to teach in my school and all I have to do is put a roof over the sunbathing hair-sniffing(ill catch you you head and shoulders quarehawk)dieting dickhead and im away.five teachers ten grand 9for me lotsa gourdes for the parents).queueing up the fuckers-no experience required.grinds maybe.
    I keep e1,900,give mom and dad and co a split of the e100.

    Alternatively post a wad of notes,local denomination to a random house in,well say Tajikistan.(wouldn’t you have some laugh mailing dildos out to houses in Saudi Arabia,wouldn’t you tho)

    Try to transfer your dole to England,maybe you can transfer your dole to somewhere else in the commonwealth
    The Bahamas?
    Give your money to the locals by all means,buy the bara drink.

    you cant do much about an earthquake,put money in the poorbox.

    [P.S.The bastards are entitled to do what they like on the coast of any island they want,the solution to these kinds of dilemmas always involves taking money of too rich people so they don’t (mogs)wreck their new shoes on the way they just bought trying to pull a third world child out of a sandpit in an expanding circle and the child is drowning.]

    I mean its devastating but theres a law against this kind of thing called the law.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Shit, you’ve given me a lot to chew over there Cosmo. A hell of a lot. If the Head and Shoulders jibe is directed at me, I’m flattered more than you know.

    Also, to answer the question posed in your (presumably fake) email address: Well, yourself for one!

  3. Ger Says:

    I’m sorry but this is probably not the most original answer in the world but bad taste is one reason. Flaunting your money having a good time while people around you are dying is one reason I’d say.

  4. Seán Says:

    I see where you’re going with this and I dont like it, pinko

  5. Chris Says:

    I could be talking out of my hat here but I think people don’t like to see things like the cruises in Haiti because to an extent it reflects the attitude and behaviour of the developed world and their own behaviour. We look at disasters think ‘oh that’s awful’ but when an expensive cruise ship comes along it really highlights how big an economic gap there is. It makes us feel guilty that we haven’t done more to help. Even something as simple as donating more than a tenner. Everyone will give a euro or two to whoever is standing outside tesco collecting for the cause to make themselver better but the amount we donate is miniscule in terms of what we earn. I’m not preaching that we should all donate more, as I definitely fall into the category above I just think that’s why it seems like such a big deal.

  6. Eoin Says:

    @ Sean – who me?
    @ Chris – See I reckon if I was on that cruise ship I wouldn’t want to be there either. But that would only be because the suffering of the citizens Haiti was a bad buzz and a downer on my holiday. Just not sure then, what the Guardian guy’s objection was, since he got to feel good about himself for reporting the tragedy.

  7. Mark Says:

    You want Peter Singer on this, Eoin. He’ll sort you out.

  8. Eoin Says:

    Is his green light showing on Gmail today?

  9. Mark Says:

    No, he hasn’t shown up in a while. Still haven’t had the balls to strike up a chat with him. “Any craic, Pete? Just eating a sandwich here. What’s your take on pastrami, morally?”

  10. Eoin Says:

    If he thought you were stalking him, a la this guy who once picked George Plimpton up from the airport (worth reading)


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