Another iconic, formerly respected, institution has joined the intolerant enforcement crusade of Political Correctness. The Red Cross – for more than a century a symbol of neutrality and even-handedness – has rejected the appeal of one of its leading volunteers against his dismissal because he opposes same-sex marriage.
Bryan Barkley, a 71-year-old grandfather with more than 18 years’ voluntary service to the Red Cross, was dismissed because he protested outside Wakefield Cathedral by holding a placard saying: “No Same Sex Marriage.” He did so in a purely personal capacity as a church-going Christian, outside his local cathedral; there was nothing in his orderly and dignified protest to link him to the Red Cross.
Nevertheless, last May he received a letter from Andy Peers, director of operations for the Red Cross in Yorkshire, summoning him to a disciplinary hearing to discuss his protest in relation to the “fundamental principles of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement and the values of the British Red Cross”. At the hearing Peers told Mr Barkley the British Red Cross does not have a view on same-sex marriage because as a charity it is impartial and neutral. Yet on 8 August Bryan Barkley was informed the Red Cross was withdrawing his “opportunity to volunteer” with immediate effect.
His appeal against dismissal has now been rejected in a manner that places serious question marks over the propriety of the Red Cross’s disciplinary procedure. More on that anon, but first let us consider the original sanction against Mr Barkley. The disciplinary action against him was initiated in relation to the “fundamental principles of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement”. Hold on a moment! Does that mean the Red Crescent will dismiss all volunteers who voice disapproval of same-sex marriage?
Does that not leave the coat of His Highness Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, head of the Red Crescent in Saudi Arabia, hanging on a very shaky nail? Since when did he, or any other member of the House of Saud, or any of the thousands of Muslim volunteers working for the Red Crescent in the Kingdom, approve of same-sex marriage? And what about the Red Crescent in Pakistan, Afghanistan and thirty other Muslim countries where the charity “offers service according to Islamic morals and instructions”? The last time any of us looked, those regions were not exactly bedecked in rainbow flags.
The notion that Mr Barkley’s protest could in any way have compromised the Red Cross is absurd. His voluntary work related to the Red Cross’s international tracing and message service (ITMS), an endeavour to reunite families that have lost touch with members. When he completed his 70th case in 2011 the British Red Cross newsletter made him its poster boy, with a fulsome tribute: “Bryan is an extremely conscientious and committed volunteer. He has been involved in cases all around the world taking each case in his stride, no matter how long it takes him to complete.”
But all that conscientious humanitarian service counts for nothing because he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. The Coalition for Marriage, which has provided Bryan Barkley with legal advice, has denounced the appeals process, claiming the Red Cross included his aggrieved criticisms of its handling of his case as new grounds for dismissal, without entering them in the records for the appeal. The Red Cross insists the appeal process is “exhausted”.
The weasel claims of neutrality by the Red Cross are now being challenged by the Coalition for Marriage which has written to Mike Adamson, CEO of the British Red Cross, asking him to confirm whether he will now be taking action against all volunteers and employees of the Red Cross who have made any kind of public remarks concerning “political” issues.
In a statement the Coalition for Marriage said: “… We are aware of a number of people who publicly identify themselves as Red Cross volunteers and have used social media to express overtly political views. These views include support for the introduction of same-sex marriage and campaigning for and against UK political parties. We have therefore challenged Mr Adamson to show that he does not selectively apply Red Cross policies according to misguided political correctness.”
Here is one aggression by the PC Terror where we all have the ability to respond robustly. Red Cross mendicants have already been driven from my door empty-handed. Nobody who believes in freedom should give one penny of cash or one minute of time to the Red Cross. There are huge numbers of charities to which support can be diverted. When governments destroy freedom, voters have to wait for an election to punish them – and even then only if there is a UKIP-style alternative to the PC consensus – but an organisation such as a charity can be made to feel the costs of public alienation immediately. We all know what we ought to do, don’t we?