I have to giggle and groan sympathetically at this (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/give_up_bags_for_lent_1_4273789 ) for several reasons.
Firstly, because it nicely illustrates the difficulties faced by a non-religious person trying to do something right on the Isle of Man. All a self-congratulatory Christian chancer has to do to get branded a ‘good person’ is wave a cross about a bit and mention Jesus. Anyone else actually has to do good work, and without the obligatory nod to Jesus Freakery it never gets recognised as good anyway.
But also because it is a prime example of the dangers of government-run pseudo-charities, slave labour schemes and co-operating with evangelical bigots in order to get your message across.
Just to ‘deconstruct’ things and make it all a little clearer….
Muriel was one of the founder members of Isle of Man Freethinkers, so having to link the campaign to a smug religious orgy of ‘self-denial’ must make her grit her teeth. Though on the other hand, as ‘unfashionable’ class warriors point out, for all the worthiness and common sense behind them green campaigns and campaigners can also be fuelled by a smugness and tendency to perpetuate prejudices of class, (perhaps less consciously) race and the legacies of colonialism which have never gone away. Attitudes and prejudices whose most common exponents are evangelical Christians.
Then there is the problem of government run pseudo-charities. Having a dialogue with government is one thing, allowing your charity or community campaign to be used as a career springboard for chancers looking for a cosy government contract, or for civil servants to dictate your local policies in return for a seat at the table with them (which is way too common in a Manx ’Third Sector’ chiefly administrated by civil servants), or just allowing your charity to be used as ‘proof’ of the forward thinking of the Manx government in return for a government grant to your UK parent…?
Can any member of the public take your campaigns seriously if even you don’t?
Prison slave labour schemes – another bugbear of mine. See the Campaign Against Prison Slavery link to the right for a fuller picture, but the simple fact is this. The ‘punishment’ of a prisoner is to be deprived of liberty. End of.
Rehabilitation which involves work schemes – especially on the Isle of Man – is a sick joke. If you want to teach somebody to have some dignity by holding down a job and paying their way in society instead of robbing – fine. But the point is that employment is based on an exchange of ‘goods’, so if you ‘work’ you get paid.
Well informed prison charities (i.e. none that can operate on the Isle of Man) have suggested schemes whereby a prisoner works for a ‘proper’ company and is paid a reasonable wage. As it’s unhelpful or undesirable for them to have that much cash in prison, the money can then be banked in an account used to address practical problems when they get out – for example to set them up with accommodation. Alternatively, it could go straight to their family so the prisoner has the self-respect of knowing they are supporting them – legitimately – while inside.
Curiously, neither large companies nor the faith-based hypocritical wowsers who run ‘rehabilitation’ on the Isle of Man want to know about that. No short term profit for them, you see. Better, like Shoprite, to get a product (which only benefits you) made free (and even with public donations), then latch on to the publicity generated by a Department of Home Affairs which rather than preventing crime perpetuates it – even to the extent of nurturing the next generation of criminals.
Co-operating with evangelical bigots? St Thomas’s, by virtue of having the ‘right’ to appoint deluded loons (sorry ‘practicing Christians’) as staff which the current Diocesan representatives on the school board insist on exercising, has a head teacher who takes flat-earth superstition seriously. His predecessor was a decent middle-of-the-road Anglican, but when he retired no Anglican teacher wanted the job so rather than give it to a reputable professional the Diocese picked a Broadway Baptist punter, reputedly a creationist with equally startling views on most things. Given that some of that tribe are millenarians (a Christian subculture that thinks Armageddon is imminent and you should do nothing to stop it) he may even believe environmentalism is a distraction of the Devil.
Fair play to any non-religious person who wants a better island and world and engages with this cretinous, deep-rooted bigotry and nonsense to try and get it. Personally though, my nod to a ridiculous Christian tradition is to give up self-flagellation for Lent.
And after Easter? Well, long time until Saturnalia in December, but, with some effort, I am sure I can find ways to knock out my inner policeman and actually enjoy the process of bringing misanthropic vacuity to its knees – while simultaneously encouraging everyone else to get off them.
3 years ago