Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Wanted, godbothering prison visitors. Must have own rubber stamp

I was amused by the appeal for new members for the Independent Monitoring Board at the local prison (see http://www.gov.im/lib/news/dha/prison/independentmonit.xml).
I laugh because my experience last year at an interview for the Board of Prison Visitors confirmed to me that it’s a waste of time even trying to find middle ground with the bigots and throwbacks who run this island.
I knew about the disgraceful human rights record, I’d even read the damning 2003 report by the ECPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) on Manx prison conditions (available at http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/), but I was willing to do my middle of the road bit and give the Prison Visitors a try if that was what it took.
Big mistake!
For a start, the Board were so slack it took about six months to get enough of them together to interview me. As soon as I entered the room I knew it wasn’t worth the wait either. Small town biblebashers one and all - I swear one guy’s knuckles even scraped the ground. Their faces on knowing I was not only an atheist but a member of Liberty and Amnesty International for over 25 years were a picture.
Needless to say they didn’t take me. Funnily enough, I later found out they’d happily allowed the successor to an evangelical pastor who was put away for child sex offences to be a prison chaplain, even though he’d bought his clerical title from a correspondence course in the Evangelical Times. Even funnier, one interviewer, I now realise, must have once helped prevent the police from interviewing East European victims of the pentecostal pest after an assault I witnessed in 1998. The charity that brought his victims over is still running, though they’d be worried if they knew that their trustees, including a senior Manx politician, are now listed on East European police files as possible threats to children, and the kids are routinely debriefed by police after their annual visits to the Isle of Man.
So, would I recommend any right-minded local collaborates with bogus Manx government committees set up to rubber stamp bigotry and human rights abuse?
No, because there are probably more thugs, bigots and crooks around the Department of Home Affairs than in the prison.
Why pretend otherwise? Just treat them like the villains they are, and stay well clear.

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