Campaigners claimed that “millions” of people who hold traditional “politically incorrect” views could now face new restrictions because of rulings against three other Christians involved in the European Court of Human Rights case.
They claimed that the judgment actively increases the risk that those who dissent on the issue of same-sex marriage will not be free to voice their dissent.
Their comments came as the court in Strasbourg ruled that Britain had failed to protect the right of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways clerk, to manifest their faith by wearing a small cross.
The judges accepted for the first time that wearing a cross was an important expression of Mrs Eweida’s faith which deserved protection under the European Convention on Human Rights – even though it is not an explicit tenet of Christianity.
Perhaps the loveliest Matt cartoon I have seen is the one that shows Captain Fantastic in a circus ring, the caption below him reading: “I will now attempt to fail a GCSE.” Like all the best jokes, it’s funny because it has a ring of truth to it – I recall taking a maths GCSE a couple of years ago for an article, and passing with a C, despite scraping only 30-odd per cent (in my defence, I hadn’t done any revision).
But increasingly I get the impression that the only reason anyone laughs at the British education system is because if they didn’t, they might cry – and I bet a few people let out guffaws when reading the report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph about Ed Elliott, headmaster of the Perse School in Cambridge, who believes that children should be taught how to deal with failure.
Lessons in failure! How wonderful! Maybe the parents spending up to £13,647 on fees at the Perse wouldn’t see it that way, but it’s something to chew on for the rest of us. Anyway, in my day, you didn’t have to be shown how to fail – failure was the default setting you arrived with on your first day at school. You were expected to fail. “The more you fail,” my maths teacher%2
For most parents, bedtime stories are a cherished and innocent time, featuring much-loved books full of comforting characters.
But for some, it seems, this nightly ritual is a minefield of potentially offensive and unsuitable material.
A survey of libraries has revealed how dozens of children’s books have provoked complaints from angry parents – accusing them of, among other things, racism, blasphemy, glorifying violence and poking fun at fat people.
The offending books include works by celebrated children’s authors, among them Roald Dahl, who is attacked for his use of coarse language in the books Revolting Rhymes and Even More Revolting Rhymes.
Even classics such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Nutcracker are not immune from criticism, in their case for being too scary and sinister.
The treatment of Dr David Drew, a respected paediatrician with an unblemished 37-year career in the NHS, who was sacked in December 2010 for “gross misconduct and insubordination”, appears pretty shocking at first glance. Look at it for long enough, and it has terrifying implications for us all.
Dr Drew is a practising Christian, though far from a fundamentalist: indeed, he describes himself as “a Christian with questions” who has “coexisted peacefully with colleagues of all faiths and none for many years”. He told a tribunal last week that, when he was a senior paediatric consultant at Walsall Manor Hospital, he had emailed a well-known prayer by St Ignatius Loyola, “To Give and Not to Count the Cost”, as an incentive to his staff. Later, when ordered to “refrain from using religious references in his professional communications, verbal or written”, Dr Drew asked the trust to provide examples of when such behaviour had been problematic: the only solid thing it came up with, he said, was the prayer.
Earlier, the hospital trust had also criticised a text message by Dr Drew wishing his colleague Rob Hodgkiss “a peaceful Christmas”. A report noted: “While DD may regard such messages as benign RH perceived them as aggressive and unwelcome intrusions into his private time.”
The word ‘Orwellian’ has become over-used to the point of cliche. Yet there is really no other way to describe the deeply sinister, upside-down onslaught upon common sense that has extended even into the school playgrounds of politically correct Britain.
The aim was originally to create a kinder, gentler world — with a commitment to eradicating racial or any other type of prejudice.
Supporters of these beliefs profess to loathe and detest bullying, with teachers instigating school playground patrols and ‘anti-bullying weeks’ to stamp out this hateful practice.
And yet, in pursuance of these aims, we have witnessed the rise of the widespread state-sponsored bullying of children.
The latest example was the experience of a seven-year-old boy from Hull, whose mother was astounded to be told by his primary school to sign a form admitting he was racist.