Thursday, 4 October 2007

Stuff and Nonsense


I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but you really have to wonder what the world is coming to, don't you?

Yesterday two firefighters were fined £1000, another demoted, and a fourth given a written warning, after they stumbled across four gay men having sex in a public park in Bristol; one of those men later accused the firefighters of being homophobic after being advised by an AIDS charity - and hence the punishment.

If there ever needed to be a line drawn in the sand at which we put common sense over political correctness, this is it. Let's make no bones about it: the rights of the men in question were not being infringed on by the firemen. Gay men in Britain have as much right as I do to have sex in private, and had the firemen broken into one of the complainants' flat and physically prevented them from having sex, then I'd be the first person to call that outrageous. They didn't, though. They were witnessing, and breaking up, the criminal act of lewd behaviour in a public place - but they were punished for it because the criminals were gay. That qualifies as patently stupid, unfair and ridiculous in my book, and I challenge any body (that is: any sane person) to disagree.

The worst thing about this kind of incident is that it gives the great, admirable notions of equality and non-discrimination a bad name. Those principles, after all, enshrine an important truth - that all human beings are of the same worth and value and that they are entitled to the same level of respect. But this kind of weak, idiotic pandering to the political correctness lobby is the exact opposite of that, because it effectively serves to suggest that minority groups have more rights than the rest of us: in this case, that gay men are allowed to have sex in public if they want, but other people aren't. It's a clear, blatant double standard - the exact thing that the principle of non-discrimination was created to avoid - and the reason why eventually there's bound to be a backlash.

The absolute nadir of the story is the role that the Terrence Higgins Trust - the AIDS charity - played in the affair. Not only did they instigate the original complaint against the firefighters. They then had the gall to say, in a statement to the Daily Telegraph, that "We work very closely with the police, but in this case the complainant asked us not to report this incident to [them]." In other words, they were willing to shriek from the rooftops that the Avon Fire and Rescue Service has homophobic firefighters, but they wouldn't report the matter to the police - because that would have meant the original crime of lewd behaviour being investigated. So, effectively, the complainant could have his cake and eat it: he could bandy about accusations of homophobia and discrimination, while at the same time hiding behind a shield of anonymity so as to avoid arrest. No such luck for the firefighters.

Talk about covering yourself with glory, Terrence Higgins Trust.

3 comments:

zero_zero_one said...

Whatever happened to a person's right to face their accuser? I completely understand (in various settings) the right to shield the identities of witnesses who might face retaliations etc as a result of providing evidence, but how can someone face prosecution (in any sense) if the identity of the prosecuting party is withheld?

It's a shame that the "having your cake and eating it" angle isn't expressed in the article.

One of the fire service representatives says (towards the end of the article) that the fire crew had no "operational reason" to be there - well, that may be, and maybe they should be disciplined for that, but it does seem completely out of line for them to be punished for disturbing a criminal act.

Bilbo said...

I couldn't have analyzed this moronic situation any better myself. This raises politically correct stupidity to a new level. Go, firefighters!

noisms said...

One of the fire service representatives says (towards the end of the article) that the fire crew had no "operational reason" to be there - well, that may be, and maybe they should be disciplined for that, but it does seem completely out of line for them to be punished for disturbing a criminal act.

Exactly. The oddest thing is, the implication seems to be that you automatically become innocent of a crime if somebody was being homophobic towards you. I mean, even if the firefighters were being completely out of line, it doesn't stop sex in a public place being illegal.