Tuesday, July 15, 2008


1. Gordon Brown wants more curfews. David Cameron wants all that annoying paperwork taken away from Stop and Search procedures for the police. I despair...

2. Its episode 2 of Bonecackers tonight. I can hardly wait!

3. Apparently its OK to refuse to do your job if you are a Christian and your job is performing civil partnerships with gay people. I wonder what sort of precedent this sets? Could a Christian housing officer refuse to housing an unmarried couple as they would be living in sin? Barking!

4. Newcastle are still very quiet on the transfer front. I'm worried. Shit or get off the pot Mr Ashley!

5. The extension knocks through this week ... its officially scary, but also quite exciting.


Anonymous said...

The danger you're getting into with this new political slant is falling into the same trap as the sound byte journalism that sorts of creates them in the first place.

I'm not under much doubt that a nice slice of time wasting bureacracy can be removed without the police suddenly turning into the KGB.

Also, regarding the Christian refusing to marry gay couples. I believe this is quite complex as well. She is in a job. The law changes: is she discriminating against gay couples? Or has she been descriminated against by being given an ultimatum about her job?

The situation is'nt as simple as 'she is in the job she should do it' as organisations accommodate staff members special requirements all the time. The issue was by the employing organisation's own admittance she could work effectively without ever doing a gay ceremony and so could the organisation. So she was sacked totally on the grounds that her decision sent the 'wrong message' to gay couples.

Good for her, on that basis she was right to win.


Anonymous said...

Keeping records of who you stop and search, the ground for doing so and what you found is not time wasting bureaucracy.

Stop and search is a pretty significant imposition on your civil liberties. The fact that it is used on a disproportionately large number of black and asian individuals should be ground for more monitoring not less.


Anonymous said...

The trouble is, I don't equate it being important to monitor with their not being time that can be saved.

At the end of the day, all emotive comments and sound bytes aside we are talking about processes and people and even the most essential systems can at times be (a) too bureacractic (b) streamlined to the point they achieve more while taking less time.

Now, can that actual be done with respect to this little nugget? Not sure. But I suspect that is what it is about.

There is critical and important processes in all organisations - it don't mean they can't work better and be quicker. Happens all the time in such non-emotive situations.


Vodkashok said...

'Titbits' by their nature are soundbites, and provocative ones at that.

Lets be honest about some of these things. First, Cameron was not suggesting efficiency savings for the Police. He was agitating the current furore around knife crime to his own political ends. The message behind it - that all this paperwork gets in the way - hides the reason why the paperwork exists, and thats due process. Its very easy to get people so hot under the collar about an issue that when the time comes they are lining up to take your solution - no matter how unpalatable that solution would be in the cold hard light of day. You are bang on that every process can be made better, cleaner, faster and more efficient BUT it has to retain integrity and I don't suspect thats what Mr Cameron was aiming at!

You're quite right about the religion issue, but in the end I will always make one difference in these cases. You choose your religion - it is the only discrimination I can think of where you do so (roll up all you nurture theorists on homosexuality). I see no reason why you should get special treatment because of that choice. And yes, I am in the 'no ciggie breaks for nicotine addicts' brigade as well.

And finally, this isn't a 'new politcial slant' - this has been me from Day One of political awareness. I just don't vocalise it that much, unless you are Dave where I rag you senseless almost every day!

Check out my political map on Facebook. I'm more liberal than Gandhi and more leftwing than Stalin. I sometimes wonder why they let me into America!

Moreover, I think we should spark debate occassionally about these things. I honestly think that we, as a country, are happily sleepwalking towards a nice little police state. For a laugh read the 'Have Your Say' section of the BBC website and see the reactionary rhetoric that is spouted there every day. I believe its my responsibility to raise a little question mark in my corner of the internet and ask things like:

"If local councils are using the anti-terrorism legislation to watch people to check they are not letting their dogs poo in the wrong place, what could the implications be, say, 5 years down the line, of a 42 day detention without charge policy brought in to deal with the same issue?"

Clearly the answer is 'Don't be silly Neil, the council isn't going to be locking people away for littering!' but its the message beneath the silly question thats important. We have precedent of one law being passed and then subverted for other reasons. We have all been in situations where the law has been misrepresented for someones benefits (how many times have you seen Health and Safety cited in the workplace as a stop to an idea?) With new laws, new possibilities are opened up and we should think about them.

Thats why I am so aghast about curfews. Not because of the reasoning behind them but because of the way they could be used if they become 'normal'.

However, I promise you this - distract me with gaming and the news commentary posts will stop!


redben said...

Neil isn't coming across as being emotive to me, just voicing some reasonable concerns, especially with regards to stop and search.

The gay marriage thing does occupy a grey area, whose rights are being infringed? The gay couple denied their legal right of marriage or the Christian whose religious sensibilities are being offended?

I am by nature a liberal atheist so I naturally tend towards the gay couple but given that they are the one whose rights actually are being infringed, the Christian is not being denied the right to worship, it's just sensibilities which are being offended, then I feel that the Christian is in the wrong here.

That said, if I ran said estasblishment and an employ of mine had those concerns, provided I could reasonably accommodate them I wouldn't have any problem with it.

Stop and search is a completely different kettle of space monkeys. It is unquestionably an infringement of civil liberties to be stopped and searched by police with no reasonble grounds of suspicion beyond how they have profiled you. For it to be used at all it needs considerable oversight. Anyone who doesn't think so has a very short memory as it isn't too long ago that police had these powers with impunity and it created enourmous problems, particularly with regards to racial tension, as Andrew has indicated.

Anonymous said...

I can't really comment on exactly what Cameron said, as I've not heard it.

All I know is due to the need to 'grab attention' either due to sound byte media, or in some cases (this one not being as bad if used correctly) tha nature of leadership at the top (where you have to drive forward on the basis of relatively simple mission-statements) what is called for can appear simple - slash paperwork on stop and search.

So, all I'm saying is yes we can react to the sound byte, complain about it, point out the where we think it may go wrong (if implemented incorrectly) but in my view I don't want that to naturally mean precluding the idea that efficiencies could be introduced without damaging (possibly even improving the process).

I just dislike situations that generate their own inability to be dealt with due to the system and sensitivity rendering them unable to be tackled sensibly.

I don't think anyone here, including me, is saying don't track it at all and let them do what they want. At the end of the day though, in *every* organisation the adminstration overhead of 'due process and diligence' has to be implemented in a way that is efficient and sensible across all demands and consequences. A check on that would be fine by me.

I had some more thoughts on the religion thing.

Let's assume we have a woman working at ASDA. She is working on the electronics counter. Things change, they want to move some people around and they assign her to the meat counter. Trouble is, she's a vegetarian. It is proven that ASDA could keep running an efficient service without insisting she does the meat counter (she could work somewhere else), and ASDA even admit this, and yet they still get rid of her for being a vegetarian.

That would be wrong.

This seems to be exactly the same situation, it's just got a lot more press because it's about (a) religion and (b) sex. This then makes me react more to the people making all sorts of really nasty comments about the woman and the situation when I doubt the some level of reaction would come in the 'meat counter' example.

I then have to ask myself, who is being badly done to the most: the gay couple who can still have their ceremony with no loss of efficiency by another staff member (whether the woman stays or goes) or the Christian being savaged for winning the case.


Anonymous said...

And I never suggested you are not a political being. Just that it was relatively new here.

Same with me, though I usually resist the temtpation to blog about it.

Not sure why.


Vodkashok said...

Here's my view on it.

Civil Partnerships do not require the partners to have a sexual relationship, they do not recognise non-consummation as grounds for dissolution. You do not have to 'love' the person you are in partnership with and the partnerships have nothing to do with religious marriage. Indeed, they cannot take place in a religious setting. You could, in theory (and I am sure Andrew will correct me if I am wrong) be in a civil partnership with your lifelong housemate so that if one of you dies, you are not made homeless or some such. They are a simple legal establishment for the dealing of assets etc between two people of the same sex.

If the woman in question refuses to carry out her role because the people requesting the partnership happen to be gay, she is refusing to carry out her role because their sexuality offends her, she is being homophobic.

( to give another example, if an immigration worker with hardline nationalist views asked to be moved to another section because he didn't want to have to work processing Eastern European immigrants that he felt shouldn't be in the country, would that be right?)

It doesn't matter about her religion. Homophobia is against the law. The source of that homophobia is not an issue. The government of our democratic country has decided that her world view is not reflected in law. She cannot just wave a bible and be accommodated! Equality of Opportunity doesn't extend to allow people to break the law!

Even the relgious argument is flawed. As Ben has said a number of times, you cannot have a pick and mix view of religion. So as a registrar, I assume she gets to officiate over marriages? How does she handle couples with illegitimate children? Those that have cohabited beforehand? Does she act upon the other dictats as laid down in Leviticus?

No, she doesn't (well almost certainly...!). She has picked out the gay couples as the ones that she wants to avoid. Tough. She is wrong and she is homophobic in her outlook. If someone called someone a 'puff' in their workplace they would be sacked. Why should someone be able to demand a move because they don't want to perform their job with them?

Sadly, the courts disagree with me, which would suggest I am wrong.... so what do I know! *g*

redben said...

The argument can easily be taken to its logical conclusion, which is this -

An muslim discovers his wife has committed adultery and wants to carry out an honour killing. Who is rights would be impinged? The man's for not being able to practise his faith as he interprets it or the woman for being murdered?

An extreme example but the underlying principle remains the same.

Anonymous said...

Very extreme, since murder is illegal. I don't think anyone would ever suggest respecting religion should allow the law a secular law to be broken.

Vodkashok said...

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007?

redben said...

But the underlying principle is the same. In each case the person's religious beliefs cause them to disagree with the law. In the case of the honour killing it leads to an active breaking of the law whereas the refusing to carry out the ceremony is more a sin of ommision but they lie on the same path, one is a just a fair bit further down the road.

Anonymous said...

Still not sure I agree with the honour killing example, because I'm not sure it's the same.

The law being examined in the case was one of employee rights, it didn't actually speak, as I understand it, in anyway as to whether her attitude was (a) right or (b) wrong or that it had consequences for her being able 'to break the law in the future' as an individual (such as the honour killing suggests'). No one is being hurt here, the only person being hurt was her - the civil ceremonies could still take place, the 'firm' wasn't suffering in any significant way, etc.

It was purely about could the 'firm' accommodate her views without diminishing service? Was she willing to go out of her way to change things around to make sure sevice wasn't diminished? In both cases the answer was yes.

The honour killing example, and may actually verge on confusing the issue. In this case someone is quite plainly being hurt.

So, you're happy to have your view, but I'll not agree with argume there is a link between this and that.

redben said...

There is no grey area for me. In your first post you suggested that a case could be made that each party was being discriminated against. The honour killing example clearly shows why the law supercedes religious belief and why there is no actual confusion.

The technique of taking an argument to its logical and extreme conclusion to see if it still stands up is a proven effective way of clearing up grey areas.

Vodkashok said...

It all boils down to this:

"Can you cite personal beliefs as a reason not to do your job and still expect to keep it?"

The waters are muddied slightly because when this woman was initially employed, the law was different.

My argument would be that (a) as she is cherrypicking which particular tenets of her faith she adheres to, her request is powered by homophobia and should not be tolerated, and (b) the fact that it is a religious matter is neither here nor there.

Relgion should not be used as a backdoor to allow homophobes to be tolerated. This is one of those situations where we shouldn't be afraid of saying 'No. You are wrong. Stop it. Now.'

We're damned well quick enough to do it with a load of other groups of people!

Mark said...


I am sure you have seen this Neil, but I believe you are a Joss Whedon fan, it's only online until 20th July -


Definately worth a viewing