A schoolgirl is offended by a bus driver’s view of Pride marches so she complains and the driver is suspended.
An habitual criminal, offended by a judge’s kindly meant advice, which he interprets as abusive language complains, too. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice (no less) uphold the complaint and reprimand the Judge – twice. Once for making the remarks and secondly for refusing to apologise.
This seems to me to be completely topsy turvy, if not barking mad. Since when have middle aged bus drivers been told what they may and may not believe by school girls? And, even more bizarrely, when have judges been condemned for hurting the feelings of habitual criminals?
Let’s take the judge and the fat man first.
Recorder Julian Malins QC was the judge in a case that, in the end, was dismissed. The accused, who was so obese that he had had to be helped into the dock, said that the verdict was a weight off his shoulders. Mr Malins replied ‘You had better not worry about the weight off your shoulders, but should rather worry about the weight on your body’. The defendant then asked the judge to repeat himself, which he did, along with sound advice about the benefits of losing weight and getting a job.
In the circumstances I think it was very kind of Mr Malins to take the trouble to bother with the defendant at all. Most people would have washed their hands of him. He is now in his fifties, has appeared in court 40 times in 35 years, has accumulated 60 convictions and served several prison terms including a lengthy sentence for GBH with intent.
Mr Malins, an eminent QC with an international reputation, on the other hand, took the trouble to tell him the truth. The obese gentleman in the dock, whoever he is, would definitely be better off if he lost some weight. In addition, if you are unemployed and have a propensity to commit crimes, it’s a very good idea to try and get a job. This shouldn’t be too difficult if you were a chef, as this chap was, given the way cafés and food outlets are replacing shops on every high street. These are common sense facts of life. If at all possible you are better off in work and healthier if you are slimmer rather than fatter. Mr Malins was telling the Truth.
But in this mad world of 2019 the law was firmly in the side of the fat old lag.
Fortunately, Mr Julian Malins, QC is senior enough, eminent enough and sensible enough not to take his formal warning too seriously. Had he been much younger with a career still in front of him, make no mistake, the statement from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office could have done a lot of harm.
The schoolgirl and the bus driver is less serious in some respects but just as worrying in other ways. To those of us who thought we knew the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, feelings and facts this incident shows how offended feelings trump common sense every time, particularly young offended feelings. Have you noticed how often young students win hands down over older, experienced, wiser, cleverer teachers? What makes it worse, though this is becoming increasingly common, the complaint was made and the driver condemned on Twitter!
This story begins with a Norfolk bus driver.
“I am not driving this bus because it promotes homosexuality,” the driver told passengers at Norwich Bus Station. It was promoting something which was against his religious principles. He said they would have to “wait a minute” for him to swap buses.
This appears to have been a red rag rather than a rainbow flag to sixth former Rebecca Sears. While the bigoted driver swapped buses she complained to the front desk of the bus station, then she took a photo of the driver, then she twittered.
“Today I was waiting for the 501 bus to Thickthorn and we were told by the driver we had to wait for him to swap buses as ‘this bus promotes homosexuality and I refuse to drive it’ due to the multicoloured ‘501’ sign. Norwich doesn’t appreciate homophobia,” she tweeted.
“I’m aware everyone is entitled to their own views however, if you can’t do your job properly because of your bigotry, maybe you need rethink your choices,” she wrote.
Quick as a flash the bus company responded.
“As a company we do not condone any behaviour from our drivers that does not support this view. The driver involved in this incident has been suspended and a full investigation is underway.”
Well, we can hardly blame the bus company for reacting like that since they have the example of the Lord Treasurer (David Gauke MP at the time) and the Lord Chief Justice jumping straight in to support offended feelings.
I still have limited hope for Common Sense because, in the eyes of the Law of this Land, discrimination on the grounds of beliefs is just as bad as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Not in the eyes of all its minions, however. If we aren’t careful we will soon have Law by Twitter. Perhaps we should try and reach agreement over Brexit by Twitter.