Friday, 30 November 2012

Political Discrimination

Last week in England a foster carer had 3 Eastern European children removed from her care, simply because she was a member of a certain political group that took a stance against immigration. The issue I want to go into here is not about immigration, or the particular party she was a member of, but whether or not we should have a right to stop someone from doing a particular job because that person is a member of a group that we don't agree with or support. 

In England it is well known that we have a lack of foster carers for ethnic minority children, and it is a bonus when foster carers have no problem raising a child regardless to their ethnic origin. Isn't that what it should be all about?

Is it in the best interest of the children for social services to be reluctant to place them in families that are of a different ethnicity to them. The result? It's much harder for black and mixed-race children to find foster families, and they are left to languish in a care system that is far from ideal. Is this really helping them?


On another angle, can you imagine being in a job for years and then all of a sudden your boss informs you that because you have voted or become a member of a certain political party then you must leave the business? 

I mean, many of us would have heard of the Klu Klux Klan, but let's pretend that you have worked side by side with the person for years and never had a problem communicating well with them until you found out who they support. Would you consider it fair for them to loose their job on account of this? Or does their politics have any impact at all on their competence for the job?  

Do the politics of the people your rub shoulders with, impact on your life?

Have you ever dis-owned your work colleague or friend just because they voted for the oppossition or a politcal party that you didn't agree with? And what made you change your view of them?

I'd really like to hear your views, opinions and comments on this.

30 comments:

  1. A fine line, perhaps, but I think there are some clear points to consider on this topic.

    I'm first reminded of a woman who--in response to Obama's reelection--made some facebook comment saying she wouldn't mind if he was assassinated. She was let go from her job at Coldstone Creamery.

    As offensive as her comments might be, do they have an impact on her ability to do her job? Absolutely not. But having a job is about more than just being able to do it. Whether you like it or not, when you take to the public sphere, you represent your employer to some degree. The bad PR of employing someone who had made those comments is absolutely not worth it in Coldstone's eyes, and I don't blame them for their decision.

    In America, voting is supposed to be private. If someone fired an employee based on who they voted for, I'm pretty sure that would be illegal. At the very least, it is illegal to have any proof of whom you voted for, so the employee could simply lie to appease the employer. But if the employee became an activist for a cause that the company didn't want to be associated with? I could see that as grounds for dismissal.

    Regarding this particular foster mom, I would need more details. What does "a stance against immigration" mean? Are there connotations of xenophobia (quite likely)? How about outright hatred of other ethnic groups? She may be unfit as a foster mom because her political affiliation represents a set of views that general society does not wish to impart upon its children. As a result, I could see her being removed from her role as justified.

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    1. I fully take heed to the fact that we all need to be careful in what we openly say in society, some more than others, but in some cases, having an opinion and acting on it is two different things. I know I haven't provided all the details about this foster parent, as I was making a point here but saying that, would it then be fair to remove children from their parents because they were members of any political group that society didn't find appealing? After all, the same conditions exist in homes where the children are natural. Thanks Neel.

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  2. Unless your political views are relevant to your job, I don't see why anyone should be fired for belonging to a certain political group (unless this involves supporting terrorism, racism, etc.) I said "belonging" because having some political view doesn't mean you have to talk about it all the time.

    For example, if you go to a restaurant, last thing you want to hear is the waiter giving you a speech on why you should support Obama. You can get fired, because your work doesn't involve expressing your opinion on this, and you're not doing what it's required from you. Of course, if you're the one that writes Obama's speeches, I guess you're expected to have a compromise with his ideas, and not having it could lead to a problem...

    But, if you are doing your job correctly, without annoying anyone, everyone should have the freedom to belong to any (legal)group. If this is the case, I think it's unacceptable that someone can be discriminated in the way this woman did.



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    1. Yes, some jobs don't call for you to have opinions unless asked (and then you still need to be careful) but even if you were on a lunch break with your work colleague and began to discuss politics and found their views were abhorrent to you, would you really go against that person? the person that you seemed to have got along with for years. Should we just not discuss our political views at all, because even if we did this outside the workplace, there is still the possibility that who we support could interfere with our job prospects in the long run. Thanks Andre.

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  3. For the most part, I'm apolitical, and politics doesn't enter into my work or personal discussions. So, it's really a non-issue. My friends are from all walks of life and philosophies. I don't really understand how ethnicity figures into a foster care relationship...it seems that decision should be based more on one's willingness and ability to provide a loving home than one's political persuasion. But, people are strange about things like that. When they think they're right about something and their point of view is the only one acceptable, they'll go to any lengths to prevent opposition.

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    1. You have a good point Helena. There are some people that push their strong views upon you, and will fight you 'tooth and nail' because they believe they are right, and unless you see things their way, you will be seen as the bad one, the inferior one, the one that shouldn't be in any position etc.
      If children are being fostered in a loving home and I'm sure that stringent checks are made on a regular basis, then how important is it to know who that person voted for? if it is an issue, then shouldn't your political views etc be taken into account long before you foster anyone? not after the child has been placed in your care. Thanks Helena.

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  4. Raising children who you doo not believe have a right to be in your country.... Yeah, damn right they should not have to be in that environment, much like a black child should not be fostered by a member of the KKK.
    I've never asked who anyone voted for, but I imagine most people are obvious about it. I imagine should someone come out to me as a wild rose conservative they'd probably see me keep my distance. So I guess it would depend on the parties issues, especially social issues.

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    1. From the little I know of the KKK I can't imagine them fostering a black child but I don't have doubts that there may be many of them working alongside people of another race, whilst keeping their real personal views private. Sometimes, it's only when things go seriously wrong or by chance, that you get to know what they really think of others in society, and what they think about blacks, immigrants etc. Thanks for commenting Jamie.

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  5. UKIP are getting votes not necessarily on the basis that people do not want immigrants in the country if that was the case BNP would be right up there. It's not that all UKIP voters have an issue with people from other countries it's that the UK is chucking money at Europe when there's so many cuts happening in the UK. For some reason unbeknownst to me and a lot of the public it is important for the UK to get itself into more debt in order to try to get other countries out of debt which isn't even working and will lead the UK into the same position as the completely broke countries we're trying to help. If anyone knows the reasoning behind this please let me know. Based on the above theory I don't think the foster carers should have those children taken away from them, if it was the BNP for obvious race hate reasons I could understand it. I personally have never really had a problem with anyone based on their political views, if someone acted/ spoke negatively towards someone else for personal predujices then I may have a problem with them.

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    1. I think whenever political parties try to talk about immigration issues there is a risk that people will jump to the conclusion that they are racist. It's the same thing when individuals talk amongst themselves or at work. One opposing view could send everyone into a wild tailspin.
      When people tell me that they would vote for the BNP (Far right party) I always ask questions. The majority who support them always seem to base it mainly on the fact that they are upset about the amount of immigrants coming into this country and want it to be stopped. They don't seem too interested or care about what the rest of the BNP has to offer. Thanks Jamie P.

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  6. ok clearly I can't spell prejudices (not the first time around anyway)

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  7. There was a great moment, during the opening scene of the show Newsroom on HBO. This news guy goes into a rant about how the US isn't the greatest nation in the world anymore, with a follow up about how it could be again....

    In it, there is on particular line where he says something like, "We were defined by our actions not who we voted for in the last election." I might have misquoted that a bit, but the gist is, not being defined by who we vote for.

    Now that I have that out of the way, I have to say, I don't care who anyone votes for, but then voting here in the US is about as arbitrary as choosing which side of the bread to put your butter on. It honestly doesn't matter who you vote for, because all the same lobbyists pander to everyone, and the people with the money control what everyone does and says in Washington.

    All that being said though, we have to remember that the Nazi party was a political party. As was the Bath's that spawned Saddam Hussein.

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    1. I've been thinking about my reactions when someone tells me that they voted for the British National Party (far right). My natural reaction has always been to question their reasoning behind it and many times, they usually have an issue with immigration in this country.
      As for the workplace, it's hard because once you know that someone had voted or supports a group like the BNP, your mind can begin to wonder all sorts of things about what their real views or intentions are, especially if they are in positions or power or authority over you. You start to question the reasons why someone may not have been promoted, or why certain people were dismissed. The mind can cause chaos once the cat is out the bag so to speak. Thanks for your comments Dan.

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  8. In America, it is not a good idea to come out of the closet if you are a Republican. Last election, I was poked and prodded because poeple were determined to have me vote for Obama. I refused and had to sit through several cross examinations.

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    1. That's the other side of it. Once you do state your vote openly, the opposing sides rush in like a flood to educate you in the right way of thinking, according to them. Thanks for the comment Blue Bead.

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    2. Funny enough the reverse happened to me. Evaluate I am not completely partisan I offered support of a conservative idea, then this guy let insisting this meant I HAD to switch parties. I told the guy, hey, that is just one issue, but no, he managed to convince himself that he finally turned me into a conservative. Agreeing is far more dangerous.

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  9. This is a difficult one.
    In general I do believe that political views don't have to do anything with jobs, normally it doesn't have any impact on a person's competence for a job.
    Personally I don't have any experiences with that when it comes to colleagues (or in my case other students) or friends, politics don't play a role for us and usually we all accept other opinions with regard to politics.

    But I have to say that there are exceptions, for example if someone I knew were a member of the NDP (right-wing extremists, actually neo-Nazis) I would definitely have a problem with that.

    Even though I think politics should be separated from one's job, I know that I wouldn't feel comfortable if I had kids and they were being taken care of by someone who belongs to such a party I mentioned. I think what I consider to be factually right wouldn't be compatible with what I feel to be right. This makes it really difficult.

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    1. Yes, it's difficult because can you imagine being friends with someone for such a long time and not knowing how they really felt politically? Then all of a sudden they confide in you. How do you actually move on from that?
      I say this because, many of us think we know exactly how our friends or colleagues think in regards to many things but in reality not everyone would go about shouting 'I'm a neo-nazi come join me'. In many cases, if it weren't for those people to confide in you you may never really know. Thanks for your comment Kleopatra.

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  10. In here, I have not heard of an employee being fired because he/she voted for a candidate who is not the choice of the "boss". This is based on my experience. In fact, we talk about who we voted for and I don't think it affected our work relationship.

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    1. That person may not be fired instantly, but I don't doubt that things can be done subtly to let the person know that they are not welcomed anymore. Next thing you know, that person is either leaving their job, etc. Just my thought. Thanks Joan.

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  11. I think there are a few different issues here, 2 personal and one not. First, you ask if the politics of people you rub shoulders with affect your life. That completely depends on how open you are personally to hear and or consider the views of others. I think if we disagree with someone at work that's fine. If that person's stance is intolerable to us it could affect our relationship with them. As far as them losing their job, I think it depends on their job and how verbal they are about their views. For instance, a school teacher who's lobbying to legalize child pornography would be scrutinized differently than say a Doctor lobbying for gay rights...

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    1. Thanks for the comment Karen, I liked how you put it, spot on.

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  12. I don't think anyone should EVER lose their job just because they are a certain race or maybe in the minority on their political views----unless the are trying to force it down your throat and are causing a disturbance at work. Otherwise, we are ALL entitled to our own opinions and lifestyle--NO ONE has the right to judge that and tell us what we can or can't believe in. I have a close neighbor who has very different political beliefs than I do--she did a bit of ranting and raving during the election time--I just kept my mouth shut--there was no point in arguing with her because I do believe she had a right to believe what she wanted to believe. And we have the choice whether or not to be friends with people of opposing views in things. We have to learn to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

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    1. Yes, there is definetly a time when we should all agree to disagree if the debates etc. are not getting anywhere, but some people just see it like a dog with a bone who won't let go and insist on escalating... but I guess that would come under 'creating a disturbance', as you put it. Thanks Menopausal mama.

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  13. A persons job status should be based solely on that persons ability to perform that job. It shouldn't matter what the political views of that person are. It shouldn't matter what sex, or race you are. It shouldn't matter religion you choose to believe. It shouldn't matter who your parents are. What school you went to. It shouldn't matter how old you are... But in so many cases, the fact is these things do matter, whether we think it is right or not.

    All to often (in my own experience) job performance means very little. It seems to me, to advance in a job or career, beyond an entrance level or non-managerial position, it is more important to understand the politics of that job, than to be able to perform that job. Not only to understand the politics, but to be able to conform to them as well. It's one of the reasons I think I have had difficulties in the workplace myself. On the job I am one of the hardest working, most focused people you will meet. I'm reliable, and I'm honest. That should be enough, right? But I don't conform well. I don't follow blindly. I question methods, and ethics. If I am unhappy, I say so. If I have a difference of opinion... I do my job, but I let it be known. I don't compromise myself and conform to company policy. And companies don't like that. I could repeat this paragraph again in reference to government. It's no different... It's politics. And if you can't play the game by their rules, or follow blindly like a sheep... Your out.

    Wrong as it is, it's just the way I see it. And like so often reading your posts, I think I understand the issue well enough... But I have no solution to offer. I don't know if there is one.





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    1. Oh Jon, don't get me started about politics within the workplace - and I'm not talking about Obama! The hoops you have to jump through, the games people play just boggles the mind. There are those that will do anything to climb that ladder of success and there are those that have absolutely no choice but to comply because they have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed.

      I too don't follow blindly, and have suffered consequences in terms of isolation because of it. Can you imagine walking into a room and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, we call it 'being sent to Coventry'.
      Thanks for you comments Jon.

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  14. I agree with Kris (Helena). The sole consideration is whether the family provides a loving home for the children. The family's political and/or religious views should be irrelevant. The same thing with the workplace. All that matters is that the person do their job. If he/she is in the habit of pushing their views on others and being rude or overbearing, then that has to be addressed, either directly by the ones being accosted, or, if necessary, by a manager or supervisor. It shouldn't be the person's opinions being confronted, but their behavior.

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    1. It seems like a few people here share your view. That it's not so much a person's political views that are the concern, but what really matters is how they express them, make an issue of them, or try to force them on others. Thanks NP.

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  15. As for your basic question, no, I don't think a person should be stopped from doing his or her job because of their political affiliation. On the other hand, I do think there are some special cases that deserve special attention. I'm thinking beyond the political landscape. For instance, if an employee is later found to have radical racist or anti-government views, and the person is in a position influence, thereby leaving many citizens vulnerable, remedial action is warranted.

    I really think, at least in America, we take politics way too seriously. Especially, given how ineffective it has proven itself to be the past few years. It seems as if everything we say has to be stated with a political spin. We use labels, such a liberal, moderate, conservative, to define human beings. We should be able to look beyond a person's political views or affiliation so we can see the real person.

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    1. This is interesting. So you're saying that politics has become a kind of magnet for the tribal instinct in people, giving them a banner to rally around and define themselves in opposition to others of a different banner, rather than being a way of approaching the important issues of the day from an objective stance? Thanks for your comment Frank.

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