Any complaint will do, so long as it’s against British feelings

Last week a National Health Service hospital manager at the Bristol Royal Infirmary told its 12 security guards that they must take off a 2 x 1½ inches Union Jack badge next to the NHS sign on their anti-stab vests, because a single hospital worker (unidentified) has made a complaint about them.

It is a pathetic complaint, but what is really pathetic is the management’s craven response. This conformed to what may be termed “the law of offence”, whereby a single individual will have his/her wishes taken notice of, even when any number of people would, if asked, disagree. Probably in this case 99% of visitors to the hospital are pleased to see our national emblem on display in a quiet and decent way.

How the NHS management should have responded

What anybody with an ounce of pride in their country and its primary symbol would have said to the complainant is in effect: “Your complaint is noted. You should however be aware that the Union Jack is the national symbol of the United Kingdom, where Bristol is situated, and many thousands of visitors to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, who are proud of the Union Jack, as we are, will be offended at your complaint, which we now make public”.

The Law of Offence

The case above is a particular case of a growing tendency of the management class in the public sector to give complainants a special status without giving a thought to the feelings of the general public. This is especially so when a foreigner or ethnic minority is claimed to be offended about something totally normal and lawful for an English person to do.

A few years back, a shop-owner in a village in the Cotswolds was threatened with prosecution because a small golliwog displayed for sale in her shop window was claimed by the police to be liable to stir up racial hatred. These toys are no longer made in Britain, but the story made the news in South Africa where many golliwogs are made and sold to travellers at airports among other places there[1]. When senior police officers send their PCs on “cultural awareness courses” they should make sure that the “offence-avoidance” content is to do with actual cultural differences in the minorities being talked about, and not the inverted proxy feelings of White liberals, concerned to making their fellow citizens feel bad about themselves and their country.

End Note

[1] Eighty percent of the South African population is Black, 9% Coloured (mixed race); 8.4% White, 25% Asian.

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