Tuesday, March 06, 2012
British unionists win 'racist' monkey cartoon case
Four trade-unionists who were accused of racism after drawing a satirical cartoon of the three wise monkeys who "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" have won a four-and-a-half year legal battle.
It is a familiar image - the three wise monkeys who “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The ancient Japanese saying is nowadays applied to those who wilfully ignore an unwelcome truth. So when a group of four hard-Left trade unionists became exasperated at being brushed off by their leadership, they put out a leaflet using the image.
As campaigners used to political rough and tumble they thought it would make an effective satirical point. Not for a moment did they consider the image could be perceived as racist - but that was exactly the reaction when they took on their colleagues at Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector union.
Amongst the 15-strong committee criticised was one black man, who called the image “insulting”. The chairman of the union’s National Black Members Committee went further, saying it was “offensive and racist”.
The group tried to defuse the row, apologising for inadvertently causing offence. But the union began a full-scale investigation, resulting in them being banned from holding office.
Now, after a four-and-a-half year legal battle costing up to £200,000, the matter has been settled, after an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled in favour of the four and criticised the union’s reaction.
Glenn Kelly, 50, one of those behind the leaflet, said: “The whole thing was a nonsense. The way we were targeted you would think that the British National Party had produced the leaflet.”
The ordeal of the so-called “Unison Four” began at the union’s annual conference, in June 2007. Mr Kelly, former secretary of the Bromley branch; Onay Kasab, former secretary of the Greenwich branch; Brian Debus, 64, former chairman of Hackney branch; and Suzanne Muna, 45, former secretary of the Tenants Services Authority branch had all submitted motions which were rejected by the union’s Standing Orders Committee (SOC).
The four, all members of the Socialist Party — formerly Labour’s Militant Tendency — wanted the conference to discuss proposals to cut funding of the Labour Party and elect full-time officials. In response to the SOC’s decision they produced the leaflet and distributed 1,500 copies.
But shortly after the conference began Bev Miller, chairman of the Black Members Committee, made a speech attacking the document and denouncing those behind it.
She said that the leaflet “belonged in the past with Bernard Manning” and that “black members and all other decent anti-racist trade unionists who understand the historic and racist denigration of black people did not find the joke funny”.
Clytus Williams, chairman of the SOC, added that his committee — of which he was the only black member — “did not expect to be insulted in the literature distributed to conference delegates”.
A number of union members complained to senior officials about the leaflet and the four wrote to both committees to refute the charge of racism but to apologise for any “unintentional offence”.
Despite this, an investigation was launched which, eight months later, resulted in the four being told that disciplinary charges would be brought against them for the “racial offence” caused by the leaflet.
The hearing took place over nine days spread between May 2008 and July 2009. In their defence, the four complained that there had been other occasions when members had inadvertently caused offence but had not been disciplined. At the 2007 conference another official was criticised after remarking about seeing a “sea of orange” in reference to a display of voting cards. He explained that the comment was not a reference to the politics of Northern Ireland.
However, the union ruled that the four should be barred from holding office for between three and five years. They brought a claim against Unison, claiming they had been unjustifiably disciplined under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.
At the tribunal, Unison insisted the leaflet was racist. Mr Williams, the only SOC member to give evidence, said it had “caused him racial offence”.
The tribunal ruled in favour of the four in January 2011. The union, which has more than 1.3 million members, appealed, but on February 22 the Employment Appeal Tribunal again ruled in the four’s favour.
The judgment said: “It never occurred to [the four] that anyone would take [the image] out of context and consider it to be racially offensive because one member of the SOC, the chairman, was a black man.”
The four, who have paid their own costs, estimate the union has spent around £100,000 bringing the case. They are now waiting to be reinstated to their former positions. They are also hoping they will be awarded damages and costs of up to £25,000 each — bringing Unison’s potential bill up to £200,000.
A spokesman for the union said: “Unison is considering the recent judgment and the merits of taking an appeal.
Fireman Sam and the day British freedom went up in smoke
By Peter Hitchens
Here are the most sinister and hopeless words I have ever read: ‘I was told that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.’ They should be carved on the tombstone of the Country Formerly Known as Great Britain.
They are as near as we will get to an exact moment at which it became clear our free, happy past is gone for ever.
We grew up in another country, and because we did not guard it, or even see the danger, we have lost it, and our children will live in a censored twilight.
Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face
Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face
They were spoken – apparently by a police officer – to David Jones, author of the Fireman Sam books. Mr Jones had been detained for speaking words that only a stone-faced totalitarian, wholly devoid of a sense of humour or proportion, could have objected to.
Here are the words: ‘If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.’
Here is the context. Mr Jones was passing through the officious farce known as airport security, in which surly persons pretend to watch out for terrorists, and we pretend to take them seriously. A Muslim woman wearing a face veil had gone through the screen ahead of Mr Jones, had not set off the alarm, and had not been stopped.
Mr Jones’s artificial hip (that well-known terrorist weapon) had caused the machine to bleep and so the law-abiding, respectable, 67-year-old former fireman was humiliated with a stupid search which (as always) revealed nothing.
I go through this stuff quite a lot, including an exciting new machine that allows security personnel to view my naked body, and good luck to them. Though its moronic futility fills me with rage, I have learned to suppress it (at one Texas airport, there is a recorded announcement warning that it is an offence to make jokes about security).
I also know, because I read and hear so many stories, just how the Equality and Diversity Inquisition is rapidly turning into a full-on Thought Police in workplaces, schools and public buildings. Sooner or later, they are going to get me too. At this rate, I think it will be sooner.
What Mr Jones was actually doing was to behave like a free man, instead of the cowed subject of a monitored surveillance state in which most of what we think can no longer be said, and every miserable snitch, snoop and sneak has the power to ruin his neighbour’s life.
I’ll carry on defying it for as long as I can, but how long will that be?
Self-righteous Swedish prick scolds British ministers over gypsy eviction claiming it was a 'breach of human rights'
What about the rights of the farmer whose land the Gypsies illegally occupied?
Britain is undermining the rights of gipsies and travellers to housing which is ‘culturally acceptable’ to them, Europe’s human rights watchdog has warned.
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, also said the eviction of travellers from the illegal Dale Farm camp last year was a violation of their rights, ‘highly regrettable’ and must never happen again.
Mr Hammarberg’s comments emerged yesterday after it was revealed he wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, stating: ‘The continuing shortage of adequate permanent and transit sites for gipsies and travellers living in caravans is a priority area to address.’
European Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, left, demanded that the Government ease the shortage of caravan sites for travellers in Britain as a 'priority' in a letter to Eric Pickles, right
He said providing such housing was a ‘pre-condition for the enjoyment of other human rights, including the rights to education and health’.
The Council of Europe also runs the European Court of Human Rights, which David Cameron is currently trying to reform following its repeated interference in decisions made by British courts and Parliament.
The court’s attempts to overrule democratic institutions in this country have provoked widespread demands from Tory backbenchers for Britain to pull out of the Council of Europe.
Mr Hammarberg’s comments prompted criticism from Priti Patel, Tory MP for Witham, in Essex. She said: ‘This is another disgraceful example of Europe using the facade of human rights to meddle in our domestic affairs and attack laws passed by our Parliament. The Commissioner should show respect for the work the Government is doing rather than attack it.’
She added: ‘Europe’s unaccountable bureaucrats know nothing about planning matters in this country and after the problems at Dale Farm, they are out of touch with the British people.’
The latest statistics show that the number of caravans on unauthorised sites increased from 728 to 2,395 between 2000 and 2010. Around 80 families illegally camped at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, were evicted last October after ten years of legal battles. The process cost taxpayers more than £6million as travellers exploited every last legal avenue to try to stave off the bailiffs.
Despite the intervention of a United Nations human rights expert, appeals by actress Vanessa Redgrave and attempts by protest groups to block the evictions from Europe’s largest illegal traveller site, they went ahead.
However, within weeks, some of the evicted travellers were back with their caravans, either on nearby pitches legally occupied by travellers or in nearby lanes.
Referring to the evictions, Mr Hammarberg said: ‘The rights to adequate housing of travellers in Basildon have already been violated once. The authorities should ensure that no further violations take place and should work responsibly towards a solution that is acceptable for all.’
The Swedish-born Commissioner for Human Rights singled out Mr Pickles as he published a 250-page report on gipsy human rights across Europe which was severely critical of Britain.
CA Democrats Call on State Fish & Game Chief to Resign Over Legally Hunting Cougar in Idaho, Chief Refuses
Fish and Game Commission president Daniel Richards shot a cougar during an Idaho hunting expedition and, like many hunters, was photographed with the animal’s body. The photo was sent to the Western Outdoor News blog with a caption reading: “I‘m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”
Once that photograph started circulating the on the Internet, however, conservationists became outraged and Democratic lawmakers found a way to file an ethics complaint against the San Bernardino County Republican in addition to calling on him to resign from his post of four years.
On what grounds? The San Francisco Chronicle explains that Richards allegedly violated state law by accepting a free hunt, complete with dogs and a tracker, at the “Flying B” ranch. The typical package at Flying B costs $6,800 but the ranch offered the commission president a free hunt — a fact that did not escape Kathy Bowler, the former executive director of the California Democratic Party who filed the complaint.
Bowler cited state law limiting gifts to elected officials and state commission appointees to a maximum of $420 a year. According to SFChronicle, Bowler also complained that Richards did not report the gift to the FPPC.
To make matters worse, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with 40 Democratic Assembly members are now calling on Richards to resign over the incident, saying the killing of a mountain lion doesn’t reflect California values. According to the Chronicle, Newsom also claims the incident is a distraction from commission business. “I do appreciate that you did nothing illegal in Idaho, but it is clear that your actions do not reflect the values of the people of California,” Newsom said.
But Richards is standing his ground and is challenging his Democratic assailants. According to The Wall Street Journal, Richards wrote a letter Tuesday to an Assemblyman stating: “Do you really think a California Commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?”
Responding to criticism that he killed the animal only for sport, Richards added: “We did dine on Mountain Lion for dinner…I will continue to hunt and fish wherever I please…There is ZERO chance I would consider resigning my position.”
"Some Republican lawmakers have rallied to Mr. Richards’ defense, saying he had a right to hunt the mountain lion.
One of the state capital’s most powerful Democrats, Senate President Darrell Steinberg, said Thursday he wasn’t ready to say what action, if any, should be taken against Mr. Richards. Mr. Richards’ appointment expires Jan. 15 next year.
Mr. Richards is one of five fish-and-game commissioners appointed by the governor who set regulations governing activities such as hunting and fishing in California"
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.