Banning the BNP from classrooms?


9:05 am - June 24th 2009

by Neil Robertson    


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I doubt this’ll work for everyone, but before deciding whether or not to support some new legislation, I like to set a few simple tests. First, the proponents would need to convince me that the problem they wish to address is important enough to require legislation, that only legislation could solve this problem and that the proposed legislation will actually work.

Next, you’d have to be pretty circumspect in ensuring that the ’solving’ of this problem wouldn’t then create a chain of unintentional negative consequences in the months & years to come, and that it doesn’t further restrict the liberty of people whose behaviours aren’t bothering or harming anyone.

By those standards, I’m not yet convinced by the recent call from the NASUWT to ban members of the BNP from the teaching profession.

Even the party’s stock expression of outrage unwittingly reveals why a ban might be preferable. Their spokesman told the BBC: “People have different opinions, but they can leave their politics outside of the classroom.”

Whilst true, that’s utterly beside the point. Teachers regularly come into contact with pupils weren’t born in this country, or whose parents weren’t born in this country, and who might only speak English as a second language. These kids are obviously going to need more help to get through school: they might require differentiated work, need a little more time to understand what’s being asked of them, or benefit from a specially-trained foreign language teacher sitting with them in lessons.

As a member of the British National Party, you’re more likely to be predisposed to hostility towards the immigrants who ‘leech’ off our public services, and this threatens to compromise your commitment to serve the public as a whole, rather than some imagined white, anglo-saxon subset. All of this could make you a spectacularly bad teacher.

Trouble is, by banning members from the teaching profession, you’re automatically assuming that their private political affiliations are inevitably affecting their classrooms. Unless it were born out with proper evidence, this seems like an assumption too far, and one which doesn’t really tally with other examples of where one’s personal beliefs come into conflict with professional duty.

Is a dislike for immigration really going to be so visceral that they’re unable to do their jobs properly? Maybe in some cases (in which case you remove them, and refuse to allow ‘but my party told me not to!’ as an excuse), but I’m sceptical that the incidence of teachers whose BNP membership makes them crap at their jobs is high enough to instigate a ban.

Ultimately, you want as few poor-quality teachers in the profession as possible, and membership of the BNP is inevitably going to raise questions about your professional integrity & judgement. But if you’re going to remove nationalist teachers, it should be for proven examples of professional misconduct, not for membership of a party which there’s no law against joining. If we’re going to beat the BNP, it’s not going to be by aping their tactics.

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About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Education ,Race relations

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Reader comments


Sensible piece. I think I am persuadable on this issue by good arguments from one side or another. But I am broadly where Neil is to start with. There is a potential issue of concern, but a blanket ban may not be the way to deal with it (in terms of the primary goal of protecting education provision being fair and effective, and also from the perspective of those who want to contain the BNP politically)

In schools, I think there could be a case for saying that additional scrutiny was legitimate. EG, off the top of my head, it could be proportionate to say that membership of particular organisations had to be declared to the employer; that all teachers might be asked contractually to make commitments to non-discrimination; and there might well be a case for employers taking steps to ensure members of a racist party understood that and were doing it. But it would be the breach of such principles by a particular individual which would be cause for dismissal.

The counter-argument is somewhat persuasive: that no member of a racist party could sincerely give and act upon such commitments, (and/or that the public could not have trust in them doing so). This is presumably the thinking behind the ban on BNP members being in the police force. I don’t think it impossible that a ban might be right for the police but not schools, but that would suggest shades of grey in this debate.

From the broader point of anti-BNP political strategy, a high profile issue where they get to be “martyrs” for “speaking out” with their target constituencies are an own goal.

So I am especially not bothered about having my legal right to join the BNP upheld, for example (especially as – unlike the teaching case or challenging race discrimination in tax-funded employment, there doesn’t seem to be much on the other side: I can’t see what of significant weight or value the right of those of different races to join racist political associations could be protecting)

I think Peter Kellner is broadly convincing on the broader question of what to do and not do
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/06/kellner-on-bnp-dont-do-something-sit.html

As with so much substitute “political party” with “religious faith” and see how well the argument holds up.

After all devoutly religious teachers express a creed that their views are right and other wrong and surely if teaching a mixed religious class they might well favour members of their own faith over others who need help. Likewise with close contact with children it might prove tempting to try to convert them to their viewpoint. As for teaching they may well gloss over any present or historical acts committed in the name of their religion or attempt to display them in a more favourable light.

So are the NASUWT going to call for the banning of members of a religious faith as teachers, somehow don’t think so.

How about we discipline teachers for what they DO, not what they THINK? Being a member of the BNP is totally irrelevant.

The only way that a teacher should be disciplined is if their behaviour towards pupils is unprofessional, not because they joined a party that the unions don’t like.

4. Jamie Foyers

…so presumably the ban on BNP membership in the prison Service and police should be overturned as well. That seems like a great idea.

Sunder @1 said:

“From the broader point of anti-BNP political strategy, a high profile issue where they get to be “martyrs” for “speaking out” with their target constituencies are an own goal”

This is a massively important point. Banning BNP teachers would make the BNP seem even more like a ‘forbiden fruit’ and therefore an even more appealing prospect for people who want to rebel against the mainstream. From this perspective, it would seem likely to be counterproductive to introduce a ban.

The obvious alternative is to be very sensitive to racist behaviour among teachers. However, this would be problematic since it could be extremely difficult to prove that a teacher is acting in a racist way. This can be demonstrated by my own experience. I attended a comprehensive in North London where about half the students were white and about half were black (not a guess – that’s what it said in the OFSTED reports). Teachers were never overtly racist. Yet there was, among a minority of them, a tendency to pick on black students. Essentially, a black student could expect far harsher punishment than a white student could for the same misbehaviour or to be punished for something a white student would be allowed to get away with. In practice, this was so subtle that it would be impossible to prove.

So, I would say that I too am in two minds about whether BNP teachers should be banned.

The best way to tackle the BNP is to work to end entrenched social disadvantages (although I’d acknowledge that teachers are unlikely to be socially disadvantaged). I’ve blogged about this here:

http://petespolitics.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/we-should-integrate-bnp-voters-into-mainstream-society/

Well yes, I agree with the article sentiment and comments 1,2 and 3. Regrettable as it may be, members of the far-right do exist in our schools, and, as LFAT rightly says (3) teachers should be judged for what they DO, not what they THINK.

The timing is important on these issues. Remember when The Association of Chief Police Officers agreed that police officers should not join a racist party, there were many complaints about racism in the force, followed by a fascinating documentary on the BBC, depicting, among many other things, a policeman mimicking a KKK member and confessing to racist beliefs.

Well this debate on the legislation comes at a time when a BNP membership list was leaked – supposedly by ex-member Matthew Single, who once shouted to me, without a trace of irony, that his Grandad didn’t fight in the war only to have people like me – a fascist nazi communist his friend called us – protesting against a nationalist party.

That list had public servants including teachers on it, and at least some of those teachers I imagine would not have been called to question about the quality of their teaching unless that list had emerged.

Obviously no teaching union wants the far-right to be present, but realises that to ban it could lead to more difficult questions. The General Teaching Council for England has refused to sign on a strategic ticket, and is not giving in to the demands of the far-right – like others have charged them with doing. And its a strategy that, unfortunately, seems best.

7. Denim Justice

…so presumably the ban on BNP membership in the prison Service and police should be overturned as well

No wonder there’s such a shortage of prison officers and police these days!

8. Alisdair Cameron

Gulp.
Have to say I’m broadly in agreement with Letters From a Tory.
There are already mechanisms for disciplining and indeed removing teachers whose conduct in class is inappropriate/bullying/racist etc.
What they believe in out of hours isn’t the union’s or the state’s business. Those beliefs are vile and repugnant, but so are many beliefs, and to impose a ban on what remains a legal party is the thin end of the wedge. If their poisoned beliefs don’t enter the classroom or have an evident/proven effect on their interaction with pupils, then they should be let be.
After all, given religions(and don’t get me started on religious schools paid for by the state…) in some manifestations can entail equally poisonous beliefs, would the NASUWT call for a ban on fundamentalist Christians (poss homophobia etc) or hardline Wahhabists (poss homophobia, sexism). Would the NASUWT also consider a ban on Creationists whose belief system is if anything more likely to intrude into lessons?
Don’t create martyrs. Let BNP teachers teach, while holding their repellant beliefs, BUT should any of those beliefs leak into the school setting, then sanction them. You cannot legitimately ban someone from a profession because of what you suspect they might do, only ban them once they have done it, else you’re embraking down a route of thought crime.

9. Constantine XI

@Jamie Foyers

I think inadvertently you’ve hit the nail on the head. I think its a question of freedom for all, or freedom for one. As my people learned to their detriment with the issue of iconoclasm, by trying to oppress the people you find abhorrent you only make yourself weaker. In this case however, to ban a member of one political organisation from a profession is absurd and can only see the detriment it could cause to your own views. Emperor Andronicus is a good example for this if you wish to look him up. So if you were going to ban any political parties in the teaching profession then the best way would be to ban them all – which in itself is a rather silly idea.
I find it troubling that so called bastions of democracy, and websites valuing Liberalism would even consider concocting further thought crimes. Until Britain sees the light and embraces the joys and divine mandate of supreme Kingship you are in a democracy and it is good to remember that in its perfect form (the one in which it should be striving for) then you will have people you dont agree with.

@ Jamie (4): Indeed. I was under the naive impression that membership of a perfectly legal ‘club’ while possibly making one unsuitable for certain positions shouldn’t legally preclude you from them.

If the BNP is to be banned, then so should communists. Communism has murdered more people in the 20C than even fascism. Those who remained as communists after 1945 supported the murder of people by Stalin after WW2 and suppression of demonstrations in the 1960s.

If the unions are to determine who can work; then perhaps the public will want the rght to determine whether a few thousand railworkers can strike and bring chaos to London.

FlipC has good point about religious faith.

Civil liberties are not just for nice people, or for “people like us”.

(Though of course that is precisely what the BNP itself believes!)

And how precisely will this work?

School: get out, BNP scumbag.
Teacher: but I have resigned from the party.
School: ooops, welcome back mate.

@4

I feel the reason the Police have banned membership of the BNP is more than just ‘serving the community’ but also the sticky legal issues it would get them in.

Any case where the BNP Officer arrested anyone would be thrown out in court (if the CPS actually got it that far) on grounds of discrimination by any half-decent lawyer. While this is all well and good if its a lesser charge against a member of a minority, but you can bet in a high profile case the officers mere presence would put the entire case in jepordy.

It’d be a kick in the balls for the, I’m sure, vastly non-racist, hardworking members of the police who work for years in breaking up a drugs ring, terrorist group etc etc only for the whole case to be thrown out because the bloke guarding the door after the raid was a card carrying member of the BNP..

14. Alisdair Cameron

Correct me if I’m wrong, but technically, Police officers can’t be signed-up members of any party, on the (reasonable) grounds that the Police are a special case and should never be politicised.. Admittedly this leaves questions as to how much this is monitored, or situations where Policemen are overtly political, but not officially signed up : Ian Blair, Brian Paddick, etc.

15. Denim Justice

@3 LFaT

So you’d send your kids to a school where the teachers were members of the BNP? You’d have no problem with that?

I remember the fuss the Tories made about not wanting the BNP to be on the same side of the political spectrum as them, but this is ridiculous..

@Denim Justice (15): So you’d send your kids to a school where the teachers were members of the Labour Party? You’d have no problem with that?

17. Denim Justice

No I wouldn’t, because there is a difference between the BNP and Labour. You’ve made yourself look pretty stupid here by trying to equate the two.

@Denim Justice (17): Really

There I was thinking that the BNP are a legitimate political party that holds views that a lot of people aren’t in favour of, whereas the Labour Party are a legitimate political party that holds views that a lot of people aren’t in favour of.

19. Richard (the original)

Can we ban left-wing extremists from teaching as they may be prejudiced against wealthier pupils?

20. Richard (the original)

“So you’d send your kids to a school where the teachers were members of the BNP? You’d have no problem with that?”

As long as they’re good teacher I couldn’t give a toss what their views were. If they tried to enforce those views upon my children I’d have a word.

@18 the BNP are *not* a legitimate political party; anyone who says they are is either a bigot or a clown. They are a *legal* political party, that is all.

Similarly, if someone were to form a political party whose primary aim was to lower the age of consent to 10 – but which, obviously, renounced any illegal activities before this change in the law were achieved, this would be a perfectly legal political party.

However, I think we’d struggle to call it a legitimate political party, and I’d be reluctant for its members to be allowed to teach in schools…

21 – depends entirely on your definitions. The BNP as a political party exists in accordance with the law, on that basis it’s a legitimate party. Neither a bigot, nor a clown; a grammarian.

I’m uncomfortable on people being denied employment because they have bad thoughts. Furthermore, the premise of the move seems dubious. Being a member of the BNP certainly implies certain unpleasant things about your beliefs and politics. But then, so does voting for the BNP and there’s no way to stop teachers doing that is there?

@18 oh now we’re getting into hair splitting. Rather than just state they’re not legitimate they’re legal and leave it at that you need to follow up with an explanation. Are they not conforming to law or rules? Do they not try to defend themselves with logic or justification ‘cos that’s the Concise OED’s definition of legitimate.

If you want to get into popular thought definitions then do they not truly represent their members views, have they not registered as a political party, does any monies raised get diverted off to non-party actions without knowledge or consent of the members?

What it appears you mean is that they’re not legitimate because you (and incidentally I) don’t agree with their logic and justifications of their views.

legitimate = ” accordant with law or with established legal forms and requirements “

If we’re going to play the dictionary game, ‘Legitimate: in accordance with recognized or accepted standards or principles; “legitimate advertising practices”‘.

Does that apply to the BNP? Does it apply to the fine gentlemen @21?

26 – yes that is one definition of legitimate. Which is why I said it depends on your definitions. However, given that the BNP clearly meet other definitions of legitimate, it is not the case that only bigots or clowns could say so. Anyone could who knows what the word means.

@27 but only a clown would assume that someone who says “X is legal but not legitimate” was using ‘legitimate’ to mean ‘legal’, because that doesn’t make any sense.

Don’t you think its ironic that we have been telling BNP members that its not true that immigrants who can’t speak English are taking too much of the teacher’s time and energy at school to the detriment of indigenous people – that the following is written:

“Teachers regularly come into contact with pupils weren’t born in this country, or whose parents weren’t born in this country, and who might only speak English as a second language. These kids are obviously going to need more help to get through school: they might require differentiated work, need a little more time to understand what’s being asked of them, or benefit from a specially-trained foreign language teacher sitting with them in lessons.”

The BNP could use this as a campaign tool!

“Ultimately, you want as few poor-quality teachers in the profession as possible”

Make it easier to remove teachers on the grounds of incompetance then there is no need to ban BNP members. Either they will teach all their pupils well enough that there is no problem or they can be fired for failing to reach that standard.

I’m sure the unions will back this idea with a will!

@30 – very good!

@28 – your definition of “legitimate” = “don’t like them”

Fair enough; nor do I.

But banning people from certain jobs because of what they think rather than what they do is not a road I would want to go down myself.

Sigh. That use of ‘legitimate’ in terms of political parties makes no sense either. Legitimate advertising practices means that they comply with the standards set by the Advertising Standards Board. Legitimate expenses (another example) would mean that they comply with the relevant company policies on expenses. A legitimate political party would be one that complies with the relevant procedural rules, which in this case are legal ones.

Alternatively we can get into a great sub-Weberite sociology fest on the true derivations of political legitimacy. But then since that comes down to the democratic credentials of governments that’s not much help here either.

33. John Band

@32, no, the example is talking about community norms, not ASA rulings. There is very clearly, in everyday usage, a meaning of legitimate that’s something like “in accordance with civilised society”. If someone says “the BNP is a legal party but not a legitimate party”, that’s the meaning they’re using.

If someone tries to imply that the speaker is using a different, irrelevant meaning of ‘legitimate’, they’re deliberately taking something that was perfectly clear to start with and obfuscating it… and the only reasons I can think of for someone to do this are 1) sympathy for the BNP’s cause 2) clownery.

I have no doubt that we need to stop feeding into the anti-establishment victim-mentality that the BNP feed into.

But at what point do we say – ‘now you’re just playing the victim card and please STFU’?

Plus, treating them as a legitimate and perfectly acceptable party means recognising and legitimising their views too.

How does one make it clear the BNP’s views are abhorrent while continuing not to legitimise them?

35. Shatterface

This is probably the most sensible post I’ve week on the subject.

I wouldn’t piss on a BNP member if he was burning as I have far better things to do with my urine but the hysteria surrounding the BNP is reminiscent of that surrounding Muslim terrorists: suddenly there’s a ‘special case’ for suspending someone’s civil rights because we’re facing ‘the biggest threat to Britain since Hitler’.

If a teacher breaks the rules at work, sack them. There are mechanisms already in place for that.

Incidentally, if a police officer’s membership of the BNP renders his testemony untrustworthy in court, does this mean BNP lead councils will find council tax evaders impossible to prosecute for the same reason? That would be fun.

36. John Band

@35 haha, good point on the courts – possibly yes, if the council tax evader is from a minority group (obviously that’s the point about the police example).

However, where the hell do civil rights come in? Nobody’s talking about locking the BNP up, so unless you think it’s a violation of civil rights to sack people for bringing their employers into disrepute or for not being able to do their jobs, then you’re fairly leg-to-stand-on-free…

37. Shatterface

It’s civil rights because it is denying someone employment because of their beliefs, not their competence.

I went a Catholic school and to their credit the teachers kept their beliefs out of the science room. There are also a lot of religious conservatives in the NHS: so long as they perform their duties it’s nobody else’s concern if they privately disapprove of homosexuals or ‘immoral’ women.

@28 & 33 “but only a clown would assume that someone who says “X is legal but not legitimate” was using ‘legitimate’ to mean ‘legal’,”

Point 1 – Only if ‘the clown’ could assume that the person who said that in the first place actually understood what the word legitimate meant. When you have a generation who have difficulty with the phrase “despotic tyranny” who wants to assume that.

Point 2 – When a disagreement occurs it’s normally polite to produce evidence to back it up rather than leave it as a pure statement followed by a veiled insult.

Anyway this is getting way of track. So can we at least just agree to state that the BNP is a legal organisation in exactly the same way as the Labour Party, the Conservatives, UKIP etc. regardless of the difference in their policies and therefore get the debate back on track as to whether they should be singled out in this way?

39. Matt Munro

For once I agree with shatterface, provided people keep their beliefs separate from their professional practice (as all professionals are trained to) their is no legitimate reason to deny people employment because of those beliefs. This is one of the reasons why idealogues who lack professional objectivity (e.g social workers) cannot, by definition, be true professionals.

I think we ought to leave it up to parents, by, you know, letting them choose which school to send their kids to, and allowing schools to set their own staff policies.

Incidentally, I think this whole issue illustrates how powerful a bunch of unions and the government has become in deciding who can legitimately be a teacher. I think that is too dangerous a power for them to have in any case.

However, where the hell do civil rights come in?

Um, because you’re talking about denying people employment due to their political beliefs?

no, the example is talking about community norms, not ASA rulings

No it isn’t. That’s why it talks about ‘established rules and standards’ and not ‘norms of opinion on acceptable behaviour’. Show me an established rule or standard that the BNP do not adhere to, which isn’t public opinion as to how nice they are, and I will concede that they are not a legitimate political party.

You’re making distinctions between legal and legitimate that simply do not exist in this context. And, as I said earlier, that doesn’t make me a bigot, only a pedant…

There is very clearly, in everyday usage, a meaning of legitimate that’s something like “in accordance with civilised society”. If someone says “the BNP is a legal party but not a legitimate party”, that’s the meaning they’re using.

Well, that is clearly the definition you were using. It just doesn’t match up to the actual definition of the word, so I think I can be excused for failing to read your mind as to what you think words should actually mean.

@38 – If you bring your employer into disrepute then sure you’ll get fired, in the same way as if you’re incompetent or were fiddling the expenses. However what you’re suggesting here is that simply being a member of an organisation (in this case the BNP) in and of itself would bring disrepute.

Would that work for anything else? Can I fire a Catholic next time the media print up a priest sex-abuse story or a Muslim after the next Islamic terrorist attack. In the current climate would being ‘outed’ as a Labour member bring disrepute. After all they’re all tainted with the same slurs. How about Scientologists can I fire them?

Next point is who gets to decide the pariah organisations? Oh wait that’d be the current government – so next on the agenda no Conservatives in public office or Lib Dems or Greens or… pfft hey why not just go the whole hog and ban every political party except that currently in power.

I believe in civil liberties for everyone, including BNP members.

If a teacher who is a BNP member isn’t doing his job properly, he should be sacked. If he is doing his job properly, there’s no problem.

45. Shatterface

If BNP members aren’t suited to teach kids are they fit to adopt? How far do we take this?

@42,43 the only thing worse than a dogmatic pedant is an ignorant dogmatic pedant. There is a clear, defined sense of legitimate meaning “in a manner acceptable to common custom” – some authorities cite this as the word’s primary definition; others cite ‘lawful’ as the primary definition and ‘acceptable to common custom’ as the secondary definition. Either way, if you’re contrasting it with ‘lawful’, then it’s the only sane definition to take.

I notice nobody’s engaged with the Paedophile Party argument. They’re a legal party, there’s no suggestion their members have done anything to abuse children – should PP members be banned from teaching?

should PP members be banned from teaching?

No.

@46: That horse is dead put down the whip.

No they shouldn’t be banned from teaching unless they’ve been convicted, however you can chose not to hire them because you think they would be unsuitable for the position. Likewise if they join at a later date you could remove them by describing their actions as incompatible with their position.

Of course they’d be free to take you to a tribunal.

@48 which differs from the suggested treatment for Nazis how?

14. makes the best point, which is ultimately that you can ban as many people that are active party members as you want, it doesn’t stop, ever, the people that sympathise or agree completely with them without their own card being able to cause their own problems.

Concentrate on ensuring proper procedures for dismissal for those not appropriate for the organisation and you tackle the bad elements in BOTH camps, and more.

@49: So you can’t see a difference between legally banning a member of a group from entering certain professions and simply not hiring them as unsuitable?

@51 no, you haven’t read the story – there is no proposed legislation, but NASUWT have suggested amending the contract under which teachers are employed in state schools.

53. Shatterface

By ‘paedophile’ are you refering to somebody who wishes to break the law by having sex with children (on which grounds it would be right to sack them) or are you including those who wish to reform the law to lower the age of consent (in which case he’s acting lawfully and should not be excluded)?

In any case, sexual relationships between teachers and students ABOVE the age of consent would cost the teacher their job.

If you look on their website, the NASUWT actually wish to go far further than this. They want to ban people from working in public services entire – not merely on the basis of memebership but on the basis of declaring an affiliation:

“The NASUWT was the first trade union to press ministers to amend the teacher’s contract to bring it into line with the police, prison service and armed forces, to prevent all those who declare their affiliation to the BNP and other far-right and fascist organisations from working in the teaching profession. In fact, we would go even further and prevent them from working in any public services.”

I think this is the first time I have heard of a union calling on bosses to police its members activities more heavily.

55. Shatterface

Any party which gets more votes than any of the others – as the BNP did in two constituancies – must surely pass the ‘in a manner acceptable to common custom’ test at least as much as the parties they defeated – or is there another meaning for ‘common’ than a quantitative one?

Are the Greens illigitimate because they subscribe to homeopathy and the like?

Do the taboos of minority religions render them illigitimate as they are not ‘common custom’?

some authorities cite this as the word’s primary definition; others cite ‘lawful’ as the primary definition and ‘acceptable to common custom’ as the secondary definition

Yassus. Aside from the online wordnet site, name one. Wordnet also has the primary definition of “lawfully” as being “in accordance with common custom” which is absurd and makes your point above rather circular.

The OED has legitimate as deriving from lex/legus and meaning lawful or in accordance with rules, with various off-shoots of that – legitimate children (in accordance with the rules of marriage), legitimate inferences (in accordance with the rules of logic) etc. Dead horse flogged, but your habit of ascribing bigotry or idiocy to people who do not agree with everything you say is tiresome at best.

Pretty much everyone who opposes this idea has been clear that what is unacceptable is the restriction of peoples’ employment rights on the basis of their political beliefs. This would apply to your imaginary Paedophile party as much as anyone else. Would you have supported the banning of gay teachers in the 1980s/90s who wanted to bring the age of consent down to 16?

@55 no, they’d need to win in an area larger than a few hundred people to pass that test.

@56 fucking hell, you’re flogging some glue now. I don’t ascribe idiocy or bigotry to people who disagree with me, only those who say things which are idiotic or bigoted. Arguing that a word doesn’t mean something that it clearly is used to mean, based solely on its Latin derivation, is unequivocally the action of an idiot.

On the Paedo Party front: this is where the ‘legitimate’ point comes in again. Equality of age of consent, even in the 1980s, was clearly a legitimate campaign. But I don’t think cutting the age of consent to 10 would be.

Tim J & John B – GEEK FIGHT!!

@52: Okay technically you’re right it’s not legislation, but as these are state schools that derive funding from the state who writes that contract? In a way this could be even worse because as legislation it might have to be debated in the House, this way it just gets done with no public airing.

btw, shatterface won this thread. Good show.


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