Monday, October 03, 2005

What! And Piglet too?

Everyone has the right to whinge, object, protest and complain. Indeed, the "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" is a well-known caricature in the British political landscape. So, in this latest example of rank stupidity and bureaucratic absurdity, I do not blame the whinging whiner, but the authorities who acceded to his ridiculous objection – and those who supported it - need to be shown up for the idiots that they are.

So, what happened? Well, it appears that a Muslim employee of Dudley Council complained about pig-shaped novelty items in the workplace – in this case a stuffed animal ‘stress reliever’ – saying they were ‘offensive to Muslims’. The innocent promotional giveaway, it seems, has now caused anxiety rather than relieving it.

The stress releiver was apparently distributed by, a direct marketing company. According to their webiste, the company's name is derived from an old Gaelic expression "ar muin na muice", meaning "to be on a winner" or "to be a step ahead.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Now calendars showing cartoon pigs, porcelain figurines and even a tissue box with a picture of Winnie the Pooh’s friend Piglet have been ordered removed or covered up by the Council honchos.

According to a report in the Express & Star News, the move has not improved office relationships. On the contrary, one staff member, who remains anonymous, told the paper: "It's caused a bit of an atmosphere in the office. The staff did comply but it's just crazy - things like ornaments that have been on desks for years have had to be removed."

But not everyone aggress. Councillor Mahbubur Rahman, a practicing Muslim, said he agreed with the action taken:

"If it is a request made by an individual and other officers can reason a compromise it is a good thing, it is a tolerance and acceptance of their beliefs and understanding," he said.

It is this sort of action that trivialises real oppression and real offence. Few would dispute that a pigs head left on the steps of a Mosque or a Synagogue is a vicious and offensive act, but to ban cartoon pigs on a box of tissues from the workplace on similar grounds? Doesn’t that just make a mockery of tolerance?

I say this as a defender of “political correctness”. I think it is perfectly legitimate to take steps to be inclusive and minimise offence. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for halaal, kosher and vegetarian options in staff canteens if there is a demand for it. I support the move to change “Merry Christmas” to “Seasons Greetings” in acknowledgement of the fact that many religious groups and secularists celebrate Winterfest in different ways. In spite of the hysterical ravings of “Councils Ban Xmas” that appeared in some tabloids, it was the right decision. Workplaces ought to be, if not entirely secular, at least faith-neutral.

But seeming to equate a piggybank on a desk or a video of ‘Babe, Pig in the City’ left lying around with the acts of neo-Nazis is really not helping the case for genuine political correctness. Rather than fuelling religious tolerance, it fuels resentment – and the tabloids!


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Marc said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Andy said...

How long will it be before pork is no longer on the menu in the staff canteen? How long before butchers are required to remove pork from their window displays?

I must disagree that it is in any way ‘reasonable’ to ask for or expect halal or kosher in staff canteens or anywhere else. It’s still the thin end of the wedge. We have prestunned meat in this country for a reason: and that is compassion for the animal. Now there are some studies that suggest that prestunning is not all it’s cracked up to be. You usually see those trotted out by Muslims.

Even the government’s own advisory body, the Farm Animals Welfare Council (FAWC), recommended a couple of years ago that halal and shechita methods be banned, but the government didn’t, of course, listen! FAWC reported, among other things, that some animals can take up two minutes to die while they are hanging by their back legs and blood is gushing from their throats. I’ve seen the slaughter of a beast (I don’t recall whether it was a steer or heifer) and when the captive-bolt pistol was used it just collapsed. When it was hauled up by its hind legs, it was still. When the throat was slit by the slaughterer, the animal remained still.

I don’t think it is anti-PC to say this? What about a bit of political correctness to protect those who value the British custom of eating pork and bacon if they so wish? Let’s have prestunned meat only, and, if anyone is offended for religious purposes, let them eat cake!

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Brett Lock said...

I think it is wrong to say that people are here "by our invitation". People should be free to practice whatever religion they please so long as it doesn't intrude on their neighbour's rights. The actions of Christian Voice (highlighted on this blog) are an even more serious transgression and they are "here" by no one's "invitation". The debate should be framed around the stupidity of religion (whatever the source), not about immigration status or setting ethnic minorities against the dominant culture. It is my great fear that a reaction against religious absurdity will find expression in racism. That is why I'm against the trivialisation of political correctness.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Marc said...

I'm not racially motivated in the least, over the years I've enjoyed the friendship of several asian folks (some 1st gen, others not). What makes me angry - angry enough to make apparently veiled racial remarks - is when they use their religion as an excuse to dictate how others should behave.

Christian Voice is an extreme group with a miniscule following, the Muslim population is growing at an alarming rate as they marry in members of family from abroad (hence the invitation). Tony Blair has given the MCB some measure of acceptance by knighting Sacranie - the man who wished death upon Rushdie and is even now still considered a radical in some quarters.

Then they get themselves into positions of power and lo and behold, start telling the host nation how to behave! If I were to emmigrate to Asia and started demanding the removal of Islamic icons because they offended me, do you honestly think they'd comply? I expect they'd be more likely to lock me away.

The MCB and others like them are seconds away from demanding that Britain become a Caliphate; and bowing to pressure to a bunch of folk who for example butcher animals in completely inhumane conditions is downright stupidity.

If something entrenched in proper British society - and legal within the bounds of UK law - offends them, that's their problem. I just don't see why it should be ours.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Adam Tjaavk said...

Porcine preoccupations

Why the obsession with and
why the objection to pig imagery,
and not to other animals equally
considered to be haraam?

Malum nahin?

Very well then, I'll try to put it another way:
Ali, you don't make a fuss about Mickey Mouse,
Basil Brush, Muffin the Mule and depictions of
kittens & puppies, so why get your dhoti in a
twist about Pinky & Perky? - nobody's asking
you to eat any of them.



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