We in the UK are bored with the election. In an election that is more presidential than ever before, the cranks, mavericks and nutters have been pushed aside and attention has been focused on the party leaders. Thus we are being asked to get enthusiastic about three guys who, between them, have less charisma than leprosy.
Life goes on, however, and if we look past politics to something else in the news last week, we have a story truly worthy of the “Political Correctness Gone Mad” tag beloved of certain right-leaning newspapers. If we were The Guardian on the other hand, we would be screaming about a milestone in the advance of women’s rights.
Really, we should celebrate, as officialdom has set a new world record in stupidity and Britons don’t hold anything like as many world records as we deserve to. See, at the beginning of last week, an employment rights tribunal was meeting to decide how much compensation a young female soldier and single mother would get get because she won the verdict against The Army after claiming she was discriminated against on the basis of gender and race, as she was expected to be on parade around the clock, which interfered with her child care. Experts on this area of litigation estimated the award could be in the region of £100,000, which is about ten thousand pounds more than the people wounded in Afghanistan get for losing an arm or a leg. But, hey — what’s a leg compared to somebody’s feelings?
Just to put things in perspective, a soldier who had lost a leg and received the £90,000 payout is now being asked to pay back a large part of his award because as a recognition of his service to the country, the soccer team he had supported since childhood nominated him to carry a trophy to the podium for a celebration. In doing so, the soldier was seen by officials walking approximately ten paces proudly but very laboriously, wearing his team’s strip which exposed his prosthetic leg and with the trophy held in both hands. Shortly thereafter it was decided that, as he could walk without a stick, he was not as disabled as he claimed.
So, in the case of Tilern DeBique–the clue is in the name, okay?–and her complaint arising from her being disciplined for not appearing on parade while on active service, army officials are now in the position where they must consider child care issues before issuing orders. Now, in the army, failing to turn up on parade is really serious. Though it might not be quite as serious as shooting your commanding officer, or even as serious as shooting an enemy who might be threatening to wipe out your entire platoon but who also happens to have dark skin, failing to appear on parade is very, very serious all the same. Insistence on punctuality is all about instilling the discipline needed in combat situation, where soldiers need to be totally committed members of the unit because everybody’s life depends on it.
Being on parade is about being where you should be when you should be there, being ready to do your job and, having managed that, to follow orders whatever those orders may be. In their turn, officers have a duty to not put soldiers under their command at unnecessary risk. They are not duty-bound to make special allowances for anybody on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexuality.
Can you imagine, out in Afghanistan, a British officer (named Rupert or Jeremy — as they all are) walking towards enemy lines carrying a flag of truce to ask the Taliban commander: “I say, old chap, I know its a monstrous imposition but do you mind awfully delaying your attack for an hour? Lance Corporal Sillyknickers hasn’t finished bathing the baby.” What, exactly, has become of this Army, anyway?
Ms. DeBique, a Commonwealth soldier from St. Vincent and Grenadines, reported that at her disciplinary interview her commanding officer told her that the Army was a “war-fighting machine unsuitable for a single mother who couldn’t sort out her childcare arrangements.” She told her lawyers that the British government was to blame for the unavailability of appropriate childcare, as her sister–who planned to move to Britain and be her child minder–had been refused an entry visa.
At her hearing, Ms DeBique alleged that the army expected her to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She did not appear to understand that such an expectation is one of the commitments implied when people sign up for the armed services. Still, she was certain of support from the Politically Correct Thought Police, who understand how unreasonable it is to expect a black person to be bound my the same rules and mores as their European colleagues.
DeBique was eventually awarded £17,000 in damages, though she had asked for £1 million. It’s a big difference, but £17,000 still seems generous for hurt feelings — especially as it is more than the going rate for loss of an eye. Furthermore, when we remember that the person whose feelings were hurt is a single woman who can’t be arsed with contraception but thinks her army colleagues should be happy to do more work in order to cover for her as she copes with the consequences, it seems even more outrageous.
From a satirical bloggers point of view, the question is how this decision will impact the British Multicultural, Diversity-Celebrating Army’s effectiveness as a fighting force. To find out, we can join Sergeant Bull as he drills his squad in preparation to embark for a tour of duty in Helmand Province. To the parade ground!
Sergeant Bull: “Alright, you ‘orrible lot of diverse individuals, fall in! Riiiiiight dress! I said ‘right dress,’ not ‘cross-dress,’ Corporal Dimmock!
Cpl. Dimmock: “Yes, Sergeant!”
Sergeant Bull: “Why, Corporal Dimmock, are you the only one in the parade ground?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “Because, Sergeant, all the others have gained permission to skip parade under the Ethnicity, Sexuality and Gender Discrimination section of the Multiculturalism and Diversity Regulations, Sergeant!”
Sergeant Bull: “All of them, Corporal?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “Yes, Sergeant!”
Sergeant Bull: “Oh, well. We might as well drop the parade ground voices and have a normal conversation, Corporal. Missing parade — I never heard such nonsense in my life. I know the single mothers are all taking time off to look after their kiddies because the nurses are all busy dealing with an inconsiderate bunch of layabouts who have been shipped back from the war zone with serious wounds, but what about the rest? Where is Private Bulaywao?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “He’s refusing orders, Sarge. He says it’s a protest againt Army breakfasts including black pudding, Sarge — on account of black pudding being a racial slur, sir.”
Sergeant Bull: “Racial slur? Private Bulaywao wants to deny the lads a good breakfast because it offends his racial sensibilities? Are the English-speaking nations the only ones who offend his sensibilities, or would he also have French soldiers give up their Boudin Noir and the Germans forsake their Svartwurst? Must Italians abandon their Buristo Negro or the Irish forego Putóg Dhubh just to protect Private Schwartz’s sensibilities? Someone should tell him that the British Army has been eating black pudding since before Agincourt. It helped us beat the Frogs, Spaniards and The Bosche, and it will help us beat these ragheads.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “I wouldn’t know about that, Sarge, but I know you can’t say ‘ragheads.’ There are Muslims serving in the British Army and they might be insulted.”
Sergeant Bull: “And where might those Muslims be, Dimmock? Why aren’t they here on parade? Having an extended prayer break are they, or did Schwartz tell them that black pudding is made with pig’s blood? What about Private Gaydon, what’s his excuse?
Cpl. Dimmock: “He reported to sick bay, Sarge. He’s having an emotional crisis because he broke a fingernail cleaning his rifle. There are a few others in sick bay, too. Lance Corporal Tranney is getting post-traumatic stress counseling because he broke the heel on one of his Manolo Blahniks on a cross country exercise, and Private Turette had an involuntary twitch during target practice and shot himself in the foot.”
Sergeant Bull: “Oh my good Godmother, Dimmock, what is the army coming to?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “A multicultural force ready to embrace diversity and welcome people of all ethnicities, sexual persuasions, mental and physical disabilities and religions who want to serve their country, Sarge. That’s what this army is coming to.”
Sergeant Bull: “I never heard such a load of old codswallop in all my life, Dimmock. You’re the Corporal, lad — it’s your job to knock these freaks and oddballs into shape.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “Can’t call then ‘freaks’ and ‘oddballs,’ Sarge. They have diverse lifestyles which we are required to make allowances for. Standing orders says we have to respect diversity.”
Sergeant Bull: “Diversity my hole, Dimmock. Enemy rounds don’t make allowances for anything, Corporal. There is only one lifestyle for a soldier — the military lifestyle. Diversity is a luxury to be enjoyed in civvy street; it has no part of Army life.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “Ministry Of Defence don’t think so, Sarge. By the way, Private Perves has been arrested for making sexist and innuendo-filled remarks to Technician Lesby, Sarge, and Lesby was subsequently arrested for stabbing Perves.”
Sergeant Bull: “She complained about Perves making innuendo-filled remarks? He’s a soldier, for pity’s sake. Bit of ribald banter is to be expected, it’s part of barracks life.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “He reportedly told Technician Lesby that the barracks were untidy, and said it looked as though someone had been munching the rugs, Sarge.”
Sergeant Bull: “Is that all, Corporal?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “She then hit him with a 40-pound pack, Sarge, and he reportedly then said: ‘Ooh, I’m nearly coming, hurt me again.’ That’s when she went for him with a knife and stabbed him three times.”
Sergeant Bull: “What beats me is why these freak– er, diverse people join up in the first place.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “The government insists, Sarge, and you can’t turn down a job you are offered or your benefit is stopped. Girls from Christian families are having to work as topless waitresses in lap dancing clubs or as telephone agents for sex chatline companies. Dwarves are sent for jobs as shelf fillers, there are epileptics out there working as house painters and visually impaired people driving buses. It’s the Equal and Human Rights Employment Policy in action, Sarge.”
Sergeant Bull: “Sounds like they are pushing square pegs into round holes, Dimmock. Still, that’s what you get for letting all the factory jobs migrate to low-labour-cost nations.”
Cpl. Dimmock: “A fair point well made, Sarge, but really the bureaucrats are ticking boxes and letting a computer make decisions. That way Sarge, nobody can ever be sued.”
Sergeant Bull: “I fear you’re right, Corporal. I fear you’re right. How do you think we stop it?”
Cpl. Dimmock: “We’re just going to have to get our butts kicked, sir.”