From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About? The Top Stories On Everyone's Minds

What Are Icelanders Talking About? The Top Stories On Everyone’s Minds

Published October 16, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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There’s a lot going on in the news these days; a great deal of it regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Our third wave now has levels of infection rates on par with the first, so it looks like the current domestic and border restrictions won’t be letting up for at least another three weeks. We have, sadly, had our first death of the third wave, which is causing considerable worry amongst Icelanders, as contact tracing has revealed that almost all of our coronavirus cases can be traced back to group infections right here in Iceland.

In other news, a bill that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 has been introduced to Parliament again. This is not a popular idea amongst more conservative Icelanders, and you can see slippery slope arguments blossoming across social media. “What next, letting grade schoolers smoke? Teaching toddlers how to drive??” Still, there’s a case to be made that Icelanders who are already old enough to work, pay taxes and be affected by policy largely written by people in their fifties should be able to have a say in said policy.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir is trying again to abolish the Naming Committee. As you might know, this august committee judges new names based on how well they mesh with Icelandic grammar, and historic precedent. Opponents of abolishing the committee argue that it would go against “tradition”, perhaps unaware that going against tradition is sort of how civilisation advances, and that without naming laws, everyone would name their kids Hangnail Throatwarbler Forklift or whatever. Others, including some of Iceland’s top linguists, have argued that there is little danger of an outbreak of silly names happening, and that we already have loads of non-Icelandic names in this country. Time will tell if the bill actually passes.

Lastly, fireworks. Loved by many, hated by animals, people with lung conditions, and those recovering from war-related PTSD. For years now, the high levels of polluting heavy metals that are found in fireworks have rained down on Iceland by the hundreds of tonnes every New Year’s Eve. Many have proposed banning them, but now, a compromise of sorts has been proposed that would severely restrict the window for selling and setting off fireworks. This idea comes in the form of a bill, again submitted by the Justice Minister. Will it pass? Only if Parliament is immune to the powerful fireworks lobby, we suppose.

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