Polly’s problem

She sorta dances around it:

Today the European court of justice confirmed the right of private employers to fire staff for wearing headscarves or other religious insignia……but the case proceeded on up to the ECJ, which had opined in 2017 that employers do have the right to sack women in headscarves. There’s a strange legal clash here, as the European convention on human rights – which is independent of the European Union, although every EU country must sign up to it – proclaims freedom to manifest religious belief……..As vice president of HumanistsUK, I might not understand the reasons why, but visible symbols of belief and religious identity plainly matter greatly to many. Unlike French secularists, we stand with Voltaire, famously reported as asserting: “While I wholly disapprove of what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Quite so.

And the ECJ judgment doesn’t apply in the UK. Because we’ve left the EU. While the ECHR one does apply in the UK, because we’ve not left the Council of Europe.

Therefore leaving the EU and leaving the ECJ was a defence of human rights. Not, as the screaming had it for so long, an abandoning of such protections.

This is, you will recall, something that has been shouted – if we leave Europe, leave the ECJ, then this will be the loss of human rights…..

14 thoughts on “Polly’s problem”

  1. Standing with Voltaire would get you cancelled, wouldn’t it? Poly needs to think through her choice of heroes.

  2. IIRC Voltaire makes the point that you are only a champion of free speech if you champion speech you vehemently disagree with. I wonder if Polly observes that.

  3. You can have your free speech, but you can’t have it and work for me. That’s the rule isn’t it? Employers are not subject to the same free speech rules as governments?

    Although article 10 of the ECHR which covers free speech has so many get-outs it is no rule at all.

  4. Unlike French secularists, we stand with Voltaire

    Wonder what would happen to Voltaire if he worked at Charlie Hebdo

  5. I think that it is fair for an employer to tell people to leave their religion at the door when they come to work. They are still free to practice it in their own time. I would possibly make an exception in the case of them changing the rules from saying it was OK to suddenly deciding it isn’t.

  6. If your employer doesn’t want you to wear a crucifix or a tattle sack or an emblem of Satan, it’s his shout. If he doesn’t want you swaggering about in a kilt, with a dirk down your stocking, ditto.

    If you don’t like it go and get another job. Similarly if he wants you in a uniform. Apart perhaps from uniforms that might be a danger to health, it’s no business of outsiders.

    The customers are likewise free to boycott a business whose policies they dislike.

    Stray thought: would a Scottish Sikh policeman be allowed to wear a turban and a kilt, while having a sgian dubh in one stocking and a kirpan in the other? I suspect not.

  7. Aren’t human rights there to protect us from the state, not from employers? It’s to stop the state imposing its will on us. Employers can’t impose their will on us as we can walk out and go elsewhere. If you don’t like the offered terms of contract, don’t contract. If you don’t like the imposed terms of government you can’t walk out and seek another government, which is the whole point of human rights. Protection from GOVERNMENT not other people.

  8. @jgh: indeed, which is why the concern should be with civil rights, not the shonky notion of “human rights”.

  9. That old Voltaire “quote”. There is absolutely no evidence he said it.

    Voltaire was always happy to talk the talk of ‘liberty’, but made damn sure he would never pay the price “Defend to the death”, indeed!

  10. Could Polly, perhaps, provide us with some examples of when she, personally, and the Guardian, collectively, have recently stood with Voltaire on freedom of speech rather than taking the usual opposite position.

  11. I would have said companies have more control over customer facing that back office employees. After all, punters in Chinese restaurants expect to see Tiger Lily and Suzy Wong, not Sharon and Tracy.

  12. A local Chinese takeaway hired a Sharon/Tracy because Lily/Suzy was hard for customers to understand over the phone.

    An intelligent, practical race, the Chinese. Also sound on incorporating plenty of duck in the diet.

  13. “An intelligent, practical race, the Chinese.”

    Like some other races over here in the UK, they spend little time agitating about how unfair everything is and how the white man is keeping them down. Too busy working to do that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *