Sunday, 1 February 2009

Offending phantoms.

Harriet - Jacqui - Shhh... I hear someone praying.

I have no religion, not even atheism. I don't believe in anything and I see no need to convince anyone else of my view on the subject because, well, I don't have one. I'm a devout don't-care.

Sometimes religious people have offered to pray for my soul. I respond to this with 'If you like' because I don't believe I have a soul and I don't believe their prayers will affect my life one jot, so there's no harm done and no reason to be offended. If it makes them feel better, where's the harm?

It is often said that this is a Christian country. I have seen little evidence of this. To me, it looks like the country is filled with self-important, arrogant, incompetent arseholes in middle management jobs they think are equivalent to being God's right hand. That might just be because I have to deal with such people every day. Perhaps the Christians are passed over for such jobs because they're not sufficiently pompous. I don't know.

Still, it came as something of a surprise to find that Christianity is rapidly becoming illegal in a country that refers to itself as Christian. The tale of a nurse who faces disciplinary action for the heinous crime of offering to pray for patients made me think maybe there is a new Witchfinder in town. This time, the witches get a free ride. It's the Christians he's after.

Some of the more feeble out there might take offence at someone else saying a few words aimed at a being they don't believe in even though it can't possibly do any harm to anyone and they don't even have to listen to it. The nurse in question asked the patients whether she could pray for them, and if they said no, she didn't. So, who was offended this time? Who has raised Hell at the mention of Heaven? Who has been so incensed at the thought of someone muttering meaningless words that they have called for this nurse's dismissal?


That's right. She is in trouble for offending nobody. She is in trouble because one of those patients, who wasn't offended, hinted that maybe someone else might be. This particular patient canot even claim offence-by-proxy because there is no sign of any potentially offended party, anywhere.

This non-offence is taken seriously by certain self-important, arrogant, incompetent arseholes in middle management:

North Somerset Primary Care Trust said in a statement: 'Caroline Petrie has been suspended pending an investigation into the matter.
'She is a bank nurse and she has been told we will not be using her in this capacity until the outcome of our investigation is known.
'We always take any concerns raised by our patients most seriously and conscientiously investigate any matter of this nature brought to our attention.
'We are always keen to be respectful of our patients' views and sensitivity as well as those of our staff.'

They wish to be respectful of patient's sensitivities. Good. So whose sensitivities have been bruised here? Who has been offended? Who has complained of malpractice or rude behaviour by this nurse? Who lies dying in despair at the nurse's actions?


It's no longer necessary to offend someone to face disciplinary action. There need only be the hint that one day, you might. In my case I'd say it's a certainty that someone will be offended by me in the next few days at most. Luckily I'm my own boss, and my boss doesn't give a damn. Too many out there are hampered by bosses whose sole aim seems to be to make their employees suffer for all the sins of the world, real or imagined.

There are not enough lampposts in this country.

Update: Longrider is of similar mind.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well done OH. A more erudite post could not exist.

You are a very clever person (and I mean that) posing as a prat.

Still, I don't need any friends either and if I did, I would get a dog.


haddock said...

hands up anyone who thinks they might know of a group that might be offended......
beheadings too good for her.....

someday said...

"There are not enough lampposts in this country."

I agree.

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested, you can contact Caroline Petrie's employers at :

and leave a suitable message for them. I already have - I asked how they were showing committment to Caroline's diversity? The original statement from them was that she (Caroline) was 'showing a lack of committment to equality & diversity' - some PC rubbish like that so I felt my question fitted the bill well. I did also ask them to reply to me. I can just see some little middle management jobsworth sweating over that!

Leg-iron said...

WW - it was me this time, not OH.

I'm the opposite - a prat posing as a clever person.

at last -someone who gets it! said...

Wildcat oil strikes: Europeans are finally waking up to the demise of democracy
Angry people across the EU are discovering the fine print in all the treaties signed by their leaders, says Janet Daley.

The peoples of Europe have finally discovered what they signed up to. I do mean "peoples" (plural) because however much political elites may deceive themselves, the populations of the member states of the EU are culturally, historically and economically separate and distinct. And a significant proportion of them are getting very, very angry.

What the strikers at the Lindsey oil refinery (and their brother supporters in Nottinghamshire and Kent) have discovered is the real meaning of the fine print in those treaties, and the significance of those European court judgments whose interpretation they left to EU obsessives: it is now illegal – illegal – for the government of an EU country to put the needs and concerns of its own population first. It would, for example, be against European law to do what Frank Field has sensibly suggested and reintroduce a system of "work permits" for EU nationals who wished to apply for jobs here.

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Paris and the recalcitrant electorate in Germany are waking up to the consequences of what two generations of European ideologues have thrust upon them: the burden not just of their own economic problems but also the obligation to accept the consequences of their neighbours' debts and failures. Each country is true to its own history in the way it expresses its rage: in France, they take to the streets and throw things at the police, in Germany they threaten the stability of the coalition government, and here, we revive the tradition of wildcat strikes.

But the response from the EU political class is the same to all of these varied manifestations of resistance. Those who protest are being smeared with accusations of foolhardy protectionism or racist nationalism when they are not (not yet, anyway) guilty of either. It is not purblind nationalism, let alone racism, to resent the importation of cheap labour en masse when its conditions of employment (transport and accommodation provided, as seems to be the case at Lindsey) allow it to compete unfairly with indigenous workers. The drafting in of low-wage work gangs has always been seen as unjust: exploitative of the foreign workers, and destructive of the social cohesion of existing communities which, incidentally, is something about which the Tories say they are much exercised. So can the protesters expect their support?

The US had a rule during its great period of immigration in the early years of the last century, that no one could enter the country with a pre-arranged job. This was designed precisely to prevent the unfairness and disruptive effect of the wholesale import of cheap labour. An individual travelling to seek work, prepared to take his chances in fair competition with local workers is one thing: the organised recruitment of people from the poorest regions of the poorest countries in Europe in order to reduce employers' wage costs in the more prosperous ones, is something else altogether.

Nor is it "protectionism" to argue that competition for employment should take place within a context of social responsibility and respect for the fabric of communities. Genuine protectionism is setting up barriers to free trade: this is what Barack Obama is doing when he forbids the importation of foreign materials such as British steel, and urges his countrymen to restrict their purchases of goods not manufactured in the US ("Buy America!") I eagerly await the condemnation of his proposal for US economic isolationism from all those European leaders who were so anxious to see him elected.

Free trade in goods, as opposed to unlimited open borders for transient labour, is absolutely essential to the recovery of the global economy (and for that matter, to the relief of poverty in the developing world). I agree with those who fear that the US under President Obama may be about to do what it did under Franklin Roosevelt, whose protectionism and hard-nosed refusal to make concessions to international needs condemned the world to a depression (followed by a war). But what the British strikers are demanding is not the same at all, and if their complaints are caricatured or defamed, the price in social disorder could be hideous. It is not an exaggeration to say that this could be the moment of justifiable anger that neo-fascist agitators have been waiting to exploit.

The protesters are simply demanding what they thought – what all free people have been taught to think since the 18th-century enlightenment – was their birthright. That is to say, for the basic principle of modern democracy: the understanding between the state and its people that the proper function of a government is to represent the interests of those who elected it. And to be fair to both presidents, Obama and Roosevelt, this assumption is so deeply grounded in the American psyche that it is almost inconceivable for any US administration not to abide by it quite literally.

In the grand abstract terms of the enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating the two centuries old political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens, of government "of the people, by the people and for the people". It has always been my view that this was a quite conscious decision by the EU founders who, in the wake of two world wars, came to believe that the infamous national crimes of the 20th century could be traced directly to the democratic revolutions of the 18th century, and that the only long-term solution to this was to replace democracy with oligarchy.

But there it is. And here we are, with a generation of European political leaders who almost all accept the terms in which their predecessors gave away the most important principle of that great democratic pact between a free people and its government. While times were good and there was enough prosperity to keep everybody distracted and happy, the loss went almost unnoticed except by a few persistent and despairing critics. Well, not any more. The American government may be committing itself to a policy that is economically unsound and even irresponsible, but its insistence on maintaining the compact with its own voters – on putting their concerns first – will at least ensure that democracy will survive there. I am not at all sure that will be true in Europe.

Anonymous said...

More news about Common Purpose and the British Constitution group:

microdave said...

"I'm the opposite - a prat posing as a clever person."

No you're a very clever person being far too modest! For a start your "ramblings" are of a much better standard than most of what I read, whether in the blogsphere or mainstream media. And your work clearly requires a somewhat higher level of intelligence than 99% of school leavers these days...

Mind you this subject must have REALLY got your back up, as it's the first time I can recall you using anything remotely resembling a swear word (arseholes) not once, but twice!

Anguished Soul said...

Comes to something when a self-confessed non-believer sticks up for a praying Christian! May the Lord bless you for it!

I'm convinced what's happening in our nation and the EU, nay the world over, is leading to the rise of the Anti-Christ and his demonic New World Order.

Though I suppose I will be arrested soon for saying it.

Anonymous said...

This sort of nonsense is being used as a substitute for good care. These middle management prats often fail to ensure basic good care so they will latch on to something like this.

It's a like a shit pilot saying well I cant fly this plane very well but be assured that my public address manner will not offend anyone. Glossy Brochure anyone?

BulloPill said...

I read this in the Torygraph yesterday - fortunately after celebration lunch for oldest child's brithday. I though at first that I was hallucinating. It can't be for real? But, oh, yes, it can. I'm starting a factory to produce lampposts.

Very erudite posting, which I am very pleased to have read.

The Penguin said...

I was there first but not as well written.

The Penguin

Kevin said...

If anybody who I'm paying to take care of my health gave me a reason to believe they think praying may be beneficial, I'd be pissed off, I'd want them off my case, and I'd complain. Any religion.

Prayer? No thanks, I'll take the morphine.

This is not about political correctness, it's about not having gullible idiots in charge of people's healthcare.

man in the street said...

Come on boys ... wildcat strikes indeed. The people notionally and temporarily in charge must be beaten out of office.

Fuck off Brown, fuck off Cameron and fuck off Westminster.

I'm ready to fight.

Dave said...

God help us all.

Sorry not allowed to say that.
Go after the numpties who make up these stupid rules. Tie them up with their own red tape. Shouldn't be too difficult

Dave H said...

If the only assistance a health professional could offer was to pray for me, well, I for one would be pretty upset.

Chalcedon said...

Ah, but OH, it has also been stated that in the past she blotted her copybook by doing something heinous regarding equality and diversity, and got into trouble for it. I don't know what the crime was, but something that most of us would think very minor, but the pc harpies in the public sector will consider a hanging offence, if they believed in capital punishment, which they do not of course, apart from some virtual equivalent.

So she isn't blameless you see, and I expect they were just waiting to pounce on any old thing to vent their spite on her. Can't go around demeaning diversity or equality in the NHS now, can you? It's nearly as bad as being a member of the BNP or some other satanic cult. Actually, you could get away with a satanic cult on grounds of cultural and religious equality I reckon.

Leg-iron said...

Kevin, DaveH, you have spectacularly missed the point.

She was not offering prayer as some kind of alternative faith-healing thing. She asked if, in addition to the usual medical care, the patient would like a prayer said for them.

If they said no, then she didn't.

That's all she did. Offer.

Why is that so terrible? Would you really dismiss someone for offering something you didn't want and then taking 'no' as an answer?

Kevin said...

I don't think I missed the point. I was merely disagreeing with you and making an additional point.

This nurse was either praying for their bodies or their souls. If it was the former, she's a quack who has no business in healthcare. If it was the latter, patients could rightfully infer she didn't hold much hope for their recovery and be rightly offended.

Note that this nurse was not merely praying for her patients, which she would be well within her rights to do in her own time and the privacy of her own home or church. She was *asking* them. That's worse. She wanted them to know she was doing it. She was promoting her crackpot religion, on the taxpayer's dime.

She'd been disciplined for this once before. The NHS should throw the book at her.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

The righteous have reached that stage in their descent into nazi/stalinism where its adherants are required to denounce people, doesn't matter who really, to inform their fellow righteous of their own righteousness.
The next stage comes when they have to start denouncing each other for being insufficiently righteous.

Finally, can't wait, they have to denounce themselves on the understanding that their families will be left alone.
See Soviet Show Trials for the methodolgy.

Leg-iron said...


If it was the former, she's a quack who has no business in healthcare.

If she was praying instead of applying the medical care she was there to apply, I'd agree with you. Offering to pray as well as doing what she's paid for doesn't mean she isn't doing her job. The prayer part is not offensive to me even though I don't believe in it. I'd take the pills and the bandages, if she wants to go somewhere and pray too, I don't care at all.

If it was the latter, patients could rightfully infer she didn't hold much hope for their recovery and be rightly offended.

Really? I'd just infer she was religious and leave it at that. I'd take the doctor's word on whether I'm likely to survive rather than the nurse changing the dressings. She was doing home visits, remember, not prowling the cancer wards dressed as Death. The patients she was dealing with weren't in danger of imminent demise.

Note that this nurse was not merely praying for her patients, which she would be well within her rights to do in her own time and the privacy of her own home or church. She was *asking* them. That's worse. She wanted them to know she was doing it. She was promoting her crackpot religion, on the taxpayer's dime.

She asked because some didn't want that, and some said no. It would have been an imposition for her to go off and assume someone wanted her to pray for them, when some (such as yourself, perhaps?) would be furious if they found out she did that.

The taxpayer's dime pays for the medical care she performs. I doubt we pay for her Church attendances. If we do, then we shouldn't be.

Her religion might be crackpot, but is attacking someone just because they believe in something you and I don't believe in any better? Christians don't burn people any more, they just hold fetes and hand out tea and cakes and make announcements we all ignore. I can live with that. There is nothing less menacing than a Church of England congregation.

She'd been disciplined for this once before. The NHS should throw the book at her.

Oh they will, they will, but not for the reasons you'd like, I'm afraid. And they won't do it to all religions. Just this one.

I don't have a religion and I'm not likely to. I'm not offended in the least by anyone telling me about their beliefs. Some of them are fascinating.

I'm not offended at all if someone wants to pray to God or Allah or Ganesh or a teapot in orbit around Betelgeuse on my behalf, if they want to give me some lucky charm (as long as it's free) or if they want to light a candle or throw a stone in a well or eat badger hair because they think it'll help. I don't think it'll help. I know for a fact it won't harm me.

Religion, in itself, holds no terrors for me at all. If I go to Hell as a result, well, all my friends will be there and at least I can get a light. That attitude will no doubt offend the devoutly religious - does that matter? Not to me.

The same applies to those who claim to be offended by the religious. So they make some folk uncomfortable by praying. Tough. There are more important things to worry about than that.

You and I, Kevin, have the right to free speech on religion. We can insult and abuse it all we want. With some, sure, it's best if they don't know where you live but we can scoff anyway.

Should we then silence the speech of the religious? Should we tell them they have no free speech? We can tell them what we think but they must not state their views because they conflict with ours and our views are the only ones that are right. We will harass and bully them into submission if necessary. For their own good. They are deluded, they are the misguided ones, and we are...

It's starting to sound familiar, don't you think?

You can call me all the names you like, and many of them will be true, but one thing I will never become is a Righteous.

Free speech works both ways or it doesn't work at all. As long as that nurse does her job and does it well, as far as I'm concerned she can talk about what the hell she likes as long as it's not affecting her work. There is nothing to suggest it did.

Doesn't matter in the end. She's doomed anyway.

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