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Just to make it clear where I stand on people with different beliefs to myself
People who talk about their beliefs in their own time - absolutely fine. Carry on doing so. I am against any kind of comeback from people's work towards attitudes expressed outside of it.

Refusing to do your job because you might be tangentially slightly associated with something you don't approve of - absolutely wrong. If the adverts on the side of your bus offend you then quit and get a job that's not associated with adverts. In this case, his bosses would be absolutely right to reprimand him - because he's not doing his job.

I hope that's clear.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

If this is what it seems, the driver of the bus would then have veto rights over anything that even mildly offended his sensibilities on the side of his bus. This is just about controlling other people rather than living your life.

Yup. Which is just ridiculous.

Fwiw, this was pretty much the conclusion we came to talking about these same cases on our MCC/Unitarian Fellowship Walk today.

Nice to know I'm on the side of good :->

Good has noted that, and is disturbed.

Àmen. There's been similar problems with civil servants not wanting to marry gay couples in the Netherlands. Feel the same way as you do about this and that whole kerfuffle.

Yup. To both cases. Wonder if the first case would defend the burning poppy chap tho.

I hope he gets a similarly sensible judge!

How would you feel if, eg, Tescos asked all their staff to wear a t-shirt saying 'Gay People smell'? I mean, if you were privileged enough to be able to resign over it and get another job, that would be good, but don't you think it'd be Evil of Tescos? What's the difference?

I'd be against it - but if the owners of a company want to use it to put across a message, I believe that's their right. I'd completely disagree with their choice to do so - but I don't get to tell other people what to say.

You'd probably quite approve of people who tried to both keep their job and get the t shirts cancelled though?

Or to put it another way... if this had been a video of a guy refusing to drive a bus with a "gay people smell" advert on it, I would be going "good on that guy" and "I hope he keeps his job" and "good for him".

I mean, it's what the message is that's important. Companies have the rights to do certain things... workers have the right to try to resist them.

I this case I don't approve of the driver's actions and I do approve of the message so I've little sympathy with him. But I think what the message actually is is critically important here.

Edited at 2012-11-17 08:06 pm (UTC)

Try to get the shirts cancelled? Absolutely -- through proper channels, including the quasi-proper "public shaming via social media", which could well have repercussions of its own, if one's job is not guaranteed. If the proper channels fail, said people could refuse to wear the shirt, but suffer the consequences.

I would have a lot of sympathy with someone who refused to wear such a shirt and sought protection from their union from being dismissed.

Agreed -- though I personally live in an "at-will employment" state (Virginia, USA), where you can pretty much be fired for any reason at all, and "wrongful termination" only applies to protected classes of discrimination.

Depending on what it was - if the bus company had a "Retain the original meaning of marriage" advert on the side of the bus then I'd expect drivers to show professionalism. And, yes, lobby against it inside of the company, but not leave people stranded.

What if the message were much more offensive (to you -- offensive is always in the eye of the beholder). Would you drive about in a bus saying something you personally found extremely offensive or would you quit your job and leave the passengers stranded? I genuinely hope I would make a stand for what I believe right (even if it cost me my job) and leave the passengers to sort themselves out.

The root problem here is that the guy's beliefs are wrong. From his beliefs, I think his actions are commendable. Sadly, I think his beliefs are tragically very very wrong.

Which root problem? My main point here is around freedom of speech, and how to react to that.g

Sure, the driver should quit - but leaving passengers stranded is not the way to go about it. Drive the damn bus, then go and make a big fuss about it afterwards.

Which root problem?

The issue which makes this issue an issue.

My main point here is around freedom of speech, and how to react to that.

This isn't just about freedom of speech for me -- it's about appearing to be associated with that speech. I can be willing to allow people to say (for example) "black people go home" but I reserve the right to refuse to work for an organisation which would associate my name with that.

Drive the damn bus, then go and make a big fuss about it afterwards.

Well, I genuinely hope that is not how I would react. If it was me, and it was a message I genuinely disagreed with fundemntally, I would not drive the bus. I would hope that passengers might support that but understand they might not. Some issues are more important than people's transport convenience. I would applaud other drivers who took that moral stance but, crucially, *if and only if it was related to a message I find sufficiently offensive*. I dislike what he did because I dislike the fact he dislikes that message.

This isn't just about freedom of speech for me -- it's about appearing to be associated with that speech

Oh, absolutely. And this is one of the reasons I support things like the Citizen's Income - I'd like people to be able to say "This job supports things I loathe/doesn't have any respect for its employees/etc" and quit without that leaving them starving on the streets. I think we'd see less bad behaviour from companies if they didn't hold the upper hand in negotiations (but that may be naive of me.)

Go back to Russia you communist.

By which I mean "this is a fine idea which I wholly support".

The differences seem to me (to me at least):

  • Being a bus driver is a job where you can expect to be driving a vehicle with advertising unrelated to your job on it. Being a Tesco staff member is a job where you can expect to have to wear advertising related to your job. 'Gay people smell' is unrelated to the business of Tescos, thus you'd not expect to wear that.
  • 'Gay people smell' is not actually true. 'Some people are gay' is, and 'Get over it' is a strongly worded suggestion. More seriously, I doubt 'Gay people smell' would get past the Advertising Standards Authority.
  • I'm guessing andrewducker considers 'Some people are gay. Get over it.' a rather more acceptable statement than 'Gay people smell'

Good question. I'm also thinking of the case like: where the message displayed was specifically offensive, but since the transit authority was part of the government, it couldn't refuse it if it fell (just) within the bounds of free speech.

For that matter, I think there is a difference between a message saying "group X is ok" and "group X is bad", in that if you're not group X, I think you have to put up with the first, but for the second, I think an employee could legitimately complain it was creating a hostile work environment and discriminating against him (probably on the basis of a protected class, if X is religion, race, orientation, sex, etc).

Obviously there are areas where that doesn't work, if X is known mainly for persecuting Y, but I think it's a start.

But then, maybe it's my fluffy utilitarianism liberalism that thinks "anything that doesn't harm anyone is ok to advocate on the side of the bus", since some people think being gay is bad even if it doesn't harm anyone...

Now that is a great example. I would wholeheartedly support a driver who refused to drive that train. If the transit authority were threatening to sack someone for refusing to drive that train then I'd hope they could be prevented from doing so. I'd admire someones principles for refusing to drive it.

I don't think you have to put up with the first. I mean, at risk of being a parody of an argument, 'Some people are paedophiles, get over it'[1] or 'Hitler was OK' don't become good just because they're positive statements rather than negative statements.

[1] I am now _intrigued_ as to whether that ad would be legal in England. Err, I mean, for the interesting reasons, not 'would Stonewall sue them for copywrite'...

I tried to cover that with the disclaimer that "if group X is defined by persecuting group Y, then it doesn't work"? I don't think it ALWAYS works, and the ones where it doesn't are exactly the ones where people have a really core disagreement. But I still felt that it commonly works, and may be useful as a guideline, for instance in the case of the Atheist Bus and the Islamophobia Bus :)

I am now _intrigued_ as to whether that ad would be legal in England

I don't know. I think, if it's strictly saying that holding a very unfortunate sexual persuasion doesn't make you evil itself, and villifying people who've never acted on it may not be the best way to transition to a society where no-one ever acts on it, it should be legal, and probably is. (Campaigns to legalise/normalise something that's illegal/vilified should normally be legal if they don't specifically advocate breaking the law, else there's large classes of law no-one can ever advocate to change.)

If it's advocating a crime, it should be illegal, and almost certainly is.

But "some people are X, get over it" has strong overtones of "it's ok to commit this crime", like "some people are muggers, get over it." I'm not sure that's quite saying "go out and mug people," but it seems close enough, so I think it would fall afoul of the law somehow, though I don't know how badly.

Two pieces of advice for religious folk of the Christian variety who feel persecuted, not from me but from their gaffer:
1. You are blessed. Congratz
2. Turn the other cheek.

Other morality or religion may also apply.

It's against my religion to pay people for work they refuse to do.
You don't want to do the job? No problem. Go away, we want to interview people who do.

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