Should political party membership jeopardize jobs?
The recent leak of the membership list of the British National Party has lead to a wave of sackings for those found on the rolls. What say you: beneficial booting of baleful bigots, or outlandish overreaction by oppressive overlords?
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Law and Democracy.
Whilst we live in a Democracy, there are certain things outlawed. One of these things is incitement to hatred, along with human rights abuses. This does not make our country undemocratic.
Political parties represent views/ideologies and opinions. If you were a Headmaster at a school, were unaware of this teacher's political membership, and before leaving the teacher said "by the way, if there are any black kids in class I'll be biased against them", would you hire that teacher? Should he be banned from teaching? The answer is, obviously, yes. For how is the student supposed to feel comfortable? How is the teacher going to mark that student correctly? How is he going to treat that student equally? The truth is, no matter how much he tries, he can't.
Just because an ideology has managed to elevate itself to party status does not make it any more valid than if a group who advocated rape were to form a political party and aquire votes.
Chilling Effect on Legitimate Political Speech
Two of the essential components of a healthy society are freedom of speech and assembly. This action undermines both. First, it is an absolute error to conflate membership in a party with bigoted views with bigotry. A cursory glance at the BNP’s platform, besides echoing a second-rate parody of fascist nativism, reveals a strong (to put it euphemistically mildly) aversion to an Islamic presence in Britain. It is truly beyond all conception that no individual, having seen the devastation caused by Islamic terrorists, could come to the conclusion that the BNP offers the best solution to mitigating this perceived threat? Considering the incendiary rhetoric of some British citizens in favor of Islamic hegemony, is it beyond reason that a terrified citizen would support a party that seeks to expel them? Most importantly, how can these citizens have their fear-induced views allayed if the public believes them unworthy of discussion, unworthy of even access to a wage?
Secondly, the fact that members of an organization are the ones targeted begs the question of what exactly is being impeached. To deny someone employment is tantamount to depriving them of a means to enjoy a decent quality of life. If truly no BNP member is worthy of employment, why not just ban the party outright? The answer is that such an action would display an incredible bias against the organized formation of fringe political beliefs. This is problematic because: 1) organizations are subject to greater scrutiny than individuals and thus pose less of a latent threat than cells of underground extremists (further, unlike say Nazism, the BNP is not a threat to win over a significant portion of the hearts and minds of the local population), and 2) organizations tend to ameliorate anti-social beliefs; while it has been observed that members of extreme groups can make each other’s beliefs more extreme, this is distinct from having an anti-social effect. By operating in the open and focusing on “making British society better,” members of the BNP are kept from taking more violent measures to propagate their views. By condoning the firing of BNP members, the British government is quashing speech it doesn’t approve of and dissolving non-violent organizations because they advocate views on the fringe of society.
[Caveat: jobs that require extreme racial sensitivity, like working for the police force or as a prison warden, do carry a significant risk of latent discriminatory behavior that justifies termination]
Radicalization of radicals
One of the surest ways to incite an already extreme group into illegal behavior is to proscribe the harmless expression of its views. There is probably nothing more harmless than a secret vote for an utterly useless political party. Unemployment both drastically reduces quality of life (an emollient that dissuades the use of violence) and reduces the income given to the BNP. Both effects provide confirmation to the mind of the member that the government is actively trying to quash the BNP. This makes the government even more of a threat than it is now, increasing the marginal propensity for these individuals to express their extreme politics through more radical methods.
Terrible precedent to set
It is an unquestionable fact that BNP members hold views that most people consider abjectly offensive. However, maintaining objectionable beliefs has NEVER been a criterion for assessing the quality of an employee. If an individual can provide a positive contribution to the workplace without making it an uncomfortable environment, what grounds can an employer claim for the firing besides disgust with beliefs that an individual never makes evident. Recall that supposedly these individuals had not done anything to merit dismissal UNTIL they were discovered to be members of the BNP. Realistically the only thing that changed was that the employer became so disgusted with the idea that a BNP member was working for them that she could not countenance having him in her payroll. Ironically, this behavior is rooted in beliefs similar to those of the BNP—it is the base disgust they have for homosexuality (rather than any appeal to reason) that causes them to spew their vitriol. There are undoubtedly many employees in the UK that hold strict Marxist beliefs. Literally every employer should be revolted by the fact that they are giving wages to support the lifestyle of individuals who believe that the accumulation of wealth (which is arguably what non-producing managers do) is the bane of human existence. I doubt that most people would agree if similar measures were taken against members of Britain’s various communist parties.
What do you think?