by Paul Embery
Thursday, 4
March 2021
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10:12

Another career sacrificed on the altar of progressive opinion

James Moore's transgression? Upsetting some people on social media
by Paul Embery
James Moore was forced to leave his NHS post

The reputation of yet another public servant bit the dust this week. James Moore, some sort of higher-up within NHS Wales, committed the ultimate sin – a high crime for which the destruction of one’s career is the only appropriate sentence.

His transgression? Upsetting some people on social media. And, these days, nobody in public life can, having crossed such a line, expect to survive the inevitable fall-out.

In a post on his personal Facebook account, Moore complained about the ‘zealotry’ of Welsh nationalists and likened the treatment of those in the principality who do not speak the native tongue to that of black people in apartheid South Africa. It was a clumsy comparison for sure. Stupid even.

But a sensible response from Moore’s bosses would have been to point out that their colleague was entitled to his personal views, just as others were entitled to disagree with him. Beyond that, it was not a matter for the NHS Wales. Besides, aren’t we currently in the middle of a public health crisis?

These are not sensible times, however. These are times when offending others — regardless of the merit of the point being made — is, of itself, seen as a serious misdeed deserving of punishment. These are times when a city’s police force can position four masked officers in front of a message warning that “Being offensive is an offence” and not comprehend, first, that the statement is inaccurate and, second, how the whole spectacle might be perceived.

Moore’s case follows a well-worn pattern. First, the miscreant must apologise profusely for his foul deed. Then his employer must fire him (or at least issue a strongly-worded statement distancing itself from his views and assuring the world that they do not reflect the organisation’s own values). And, finally, in cases where the target has any sort of public standing, media companies must deny him a platform in the future. And all too often, all three — the offender, the employer and elements of the media — will duly oblige.

The phenomenon feeds on itself, creating a ratchet effect which sees the bar of what constitutes offensive speech set ever lower and the sanctions for transgressing become ever more severe. Petrified of being seen as out of step with ‘progressive’ opinion, no politician, company or institution dare be seen as offering anything less than the fiercest condemnation of offenders.

All of this means that there is a desperate shortage of individuals in public life who are willing to face down the threats of the mob. Most appear content to feed the crocodile in the hope it will eat them last. How refreshing it would be for someone — anyone — to demonstrate a casual indifference when accused of causing offence merely for having expressed a genuinely-held political or moral view. To say, “You’re offended? Oh well. That’s life. I’m sure you’ll get over it.”

None of this is an argument for individuals to cause offence gratuitously. On the contrary, there is no merit at all in setting out to hurt the feelings of others unnecessarily. But if someone claims to be “offended” simply because another has expressed an earnest opinion, then the problem lies squarely with the one taking offence, and no apology – less still the donning of sackcloth and ashes – should be considered owing.

As for James Moore, he has been moved from his post and is facing formal disciplinary action by his bosses. Quelle surprise. His is just another career, another reputation, sacrificed on the altar of establishment gutlessness and a desperate desire to appease those screaming ‘offence’. Unless the rest of us start showing a bit more courage, there will be plenty more.

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Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago

“Unless the rest of us start showing a bit more courage, there will be plenty more”
Unless, that was Dr. Seuss’ message to us as well. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things are not going to get better. They’re not.”
I’m an old (middle aged) former radical lefty who fought hard to stop free trade agreements and exploitation and disenfranchisement of the working class.
I am shocked and saddened by the very sudden hard turn toward fascism western nations are facing.
So many have said nothing for so long. I’m mouthy and have lost all of my former friends and associates because I wouldn’t take up PC language in place of truth. I believe in free speech and free exchange of ideas, like them or not. It’s the cornerstone of freedom. Without them we have nothing. Especially now that surveillance technology is so advanced. No dissident movement has had a chance.
This may be the last moment before we all lose the right to speak without having our lives shattered and become in “untouchable” for a word we wrote or uttered.
Where have all the leaders gone? So many are out there, but we have no one person to unify us.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

given current events, the Dr Seuss reference is at once ironic and jarring. He, too, is being judged long after-the-fact over a half-dozen books that appear to be among his least popular titles. In publicly announcing that they’ll no longer be published, the family made a lot of people who were unaware of those books very aware of them, like creating a collector’s box set. I can’t tell if that’s a case of being too clever by half or serious trolling.

David George
David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I see the Dr Seuss books are topping the Amazon best sellers list for all books, folk are buying them up big time. A protest? A last gasp of air before the suffocating blanket of censorship descends?

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  David George

After they’ve burned all the copies in libraries and schools, the ones that are left will have scarcity value.

Last edited 1 year ago by Seb Dakin
Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

Good point. I’ve just been moderated out for pointing out that pursuing ‘Welshification’ may not do much for the economy. And these clowns want us to pay for unheard.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

Well, then the answer is not to pay. Easy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
John Tyler
John Tyler
1 year ago

‘a hard turn toward fascism’? I think fascism, vile as it may be, is currently overshadowed by left-wing autocratic ideals. The woke agenda, by which I mean the agenda of those justifying it through academic/intellectual argument, is predominantly influenced by left-wing thinkers, not only from the modern and post-modern French traditions, but also from 20th century experiments in implementing communism. The process of extracting a public confession and apology before utterly destroying the target is well documented in histories of USSR, China, Cambodia, etc., as well as brilliantly described in Orwell’s 1984. However, I think the left- versus right-wing arguments are irrelevant in this case. The danger, it seems to me, is not really from one extreme of the political spectrum or the other, but from political, philosophical and religious fundamentalism of all shades; and the true danger of fundamentalism is not, as is often stated, that adherents ‘know’ they are right, but that they ‘know’ everyone else is wrong and must be corrected. Moore was ‘wrong’ and so had to confess, apologies and then be destroyed. Had his employers not taken part in the lynching they too would have been accused of being ‘wrong’ and subjected to the same treatment. By forcing everyone to share the responsibility of taking part in public lynchings the fundamentalists gain control.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  John Tyler

If fascism is when big business is left to make money provided it serves the purposes of the state, then the willingness of companies to go woke, even perhaps that they see a need to, would suggest that current left-wing ideals aren’t so much overshadowed or not by fascism , they are fascism, and wearing not even very much of a mask.
This chap worked for the NHS, a public body, part of the state. So the state agrees, big business agrees, and the mob agrees with an unforgiving, intolerant, aggressive ideology, promoted by mega-corporations that control the media.
Take the knee or else. Seems a whole lot like fascism to me.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
1 year ago

I too are from an older, actually more mature generation it seems to me, I too am appalled at the lack of guts from our leaders, what appalls me the most, is that all these people on social media who are responsible for what is going on, detest facism! Yet these actions align themselves with just that. The only difference here is that people are being removed because of their views and hitler had people removed because of their religion! I have said many times on this site that we should ALL be very worried and that, as bad as it has been due to Covid, and I feel for the people who have lost loved ones, but this is far more dangerous then any virus.
Because we do NOT have anyone with the backbone to challenge these individuals/platforms, neither do we have politicians who will stand up for us, just read Oliver Dowden’s response regarding the statue issue, we can only take matters into our own hands. I would first advocate everyone who cares about this position, should give up every platform they are on and go back to letter writing and phoning people. What a big ask that is I know, but think about what happened when hitler indoctrinated the young of Germany. Maybe giving up your platform activity is not such a big ask. Otherwise we are all as guilty as the politicians, institutions and police.

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
1 year ago

Never, never, never apologise to the Twitter/Facebook mob. If you do, it won’t appease them – they’ll just come after you even harder with their e-pitchforks and virtual torches.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan Marshall
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

I honestly can’t understand why employers should be able to sack you for expressing an opinion which is unpopular or offensive but not illegal.

They will claim that it inflicts repetitional damage but this surely should only apply to a tiny minority of cases, where an employee has been hired to represent certain values and has been found not to up hold them.

For all other employees, their employer should have no right to punish them for their opinions and beliefs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matthew Powell
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

It’s because the ‘Left’ now believe that companies have the right to fire anyone at will. A complete reversal of their former stance on worker rights.

David George
David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Yes, I’m surprised at this. Is there no protection of the right to express political opinion in British law.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  David George

Do you think if you were in a a senior marketing post with a bank and you posted on Facebook your opposition to capitalism and belief that banks are a rip off you’d keep your job?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Depends if the post was public or private doesn’t it? And also if they linked their post in some way to their working for a bank?

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

I remain surprised that people who work in any form of public life continue to use social media. The most innocent of comments can be deliberately interpreted by the malicious to damage the poster and the ease with which a perfectly innocent, even innocuous post can been seen to be a “hate crime” of some sort is frightening.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

I lived in Wales. Loved the country. Loved the people, but grew to detest the politics. At a Conservative party meeting, no less, I said that I was being made to feel like a foreigner by the aggressive promotion of the Welsh language. I also said that I didn’t care for the label ‘Welsh Conservative’ since I did not regard myself as Welsh. Calling me ‘welsh’ just because I lived in Wales seemed faintly ridiculous. “If you don’t like it” advised one of my companions, “why don’t you b****r off back to England?” This attitude is sadly not uncommon among a shouty Welsh speaking minority who seem to dominate the devolved administration and the media. Some parts of Wales, in common with many other parts of the UK, are deprived thanks to the hollowing out of many smokestack industries. I find it difficult to see how the push to bilingualism – or is the real objective monolingualism – is going to improve the lives of the people. There is an important cultural heritage to preserve, but fine words, even Welsh ones, don’t butter many parsnips.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
1 year ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

I am Welsh because I am. James Moore has a point in some ways, the author described the way he expressed his views as clumsy…maybe . I have spoken to black Americans in the South, in Mississippi, about segregation and busing so have some insight. I few years ago i lived in a semi-rural area near Cardiff. My next door neighbours were first lang Welsh Speakers ( we would pass/nod social pleasantries but I always felt they didnt want more contact in case my English speaking family spread some sort of linguistic virus! Every morning their children caught a bus to take them off the the “Welsh” School, my kids caught another to the English speaking Comp……………….. only thing was it was not as hot as Mississippi. no one can sack me as i am retired and can wear silly hats with nonchalance. I have never face-booked or twittered, thank God, but do enjoy this forum.

Ginetta Tym
Ginetta Tym
1 year ago

Excellent article (as usual from this writer), couldn’t agree more. Especially with the last sentence.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Moore’s case follows a well-worn pattern.
So when does it stop? The people at Hyatt gave an example and their perceived social offense in providing lodging for CPAC went away faster than a spring shower. They politely told the outrage mob to, well, you can imagine. Hyatt said it’s in the hospitality business and will provide lodging to whomever it pleases, and there was a part about ALL voices.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

That’s cancel culture for you. boyo.

pna2jnzxmw
pna2jnzxmw
1 year ago

Absolutely agree with Paul Embery. I’ve been muttering the phrase conformist fascism too many times this last year in relation to censorship. I’ll be more courageous and say it out loud!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

‘James Moore, some sort of higher-up within NHS Wales,…’
Whatever…give the appalling record of NHS Wales we are probably better off without him. The fact that he was dumb enough, as a public official, to say these things on an open platform, only serves to illustrate his lack of judgement.

Andrea Re
Andrea Re
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well, if was his personal account (not sure if it open to everyone or not) and he was replying to some other comment when he said that. Unfortunately we can’t read the whole thread.
Anyway, my comment would have been “yawn!”

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea Re

Well the personal is political, especially in a totalitarian state like Wales.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Lack of judgement perhaps. But to be hounded out his job in this way for exercising free speech is totally unjust. I hope the man appeals and is either reinstated or sues his stupid bosses for his just desserts.

Cave Artist
Cave Artist
1 year ago

Wales, really?

Jonathan Oldbuck
Jonathan Oldbuck
1 year ago

Never ask for direction in Welsh. You’ll be washing phlegm out of your hair for weeks!

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Don’t think you picked a very good example in this case. The guy was responsible for organising health education and improvement. The level of insensitivity and lack of political nous shown in his comments would indicate he isn’t really best fitted for that type of role which involves making sure patients from all sorts of backgrounds have access to healthcare. He got de-seconded, not sacked, hopefully back to a role better suited to his skills.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

What do the different backgrounds of the patients have to do with it? And how on earth would you know how well suited he is to the role? On the basis of one overblown exaggeration about how he feels he has been treated you have managed to deduce that he isn’t capable of doing his job and have implied that he will somehow or other discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

I think you are both correct.
Saying anything on Facebook is pretty much asking for a boot in the … somewhere from someone. Perhaps once the lockdown is over, most of us will once again have better things to do than troll other people’s social media.
And seriously, one stupid comment undermines one’s ability to do a health education job? That is just a variation of the speech police credo: only say what I want you to say or else I know you are thoroughly unsuited for … anything.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

..

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

The problem with this comment is that it is general, with no knowledge of the circumstances. If you phone a doctor in Wales, or indeed any service, you are asked if you would prefer to continue in Welsh or English. It is a part of the health service, not something about ethnic minorities. For somebody to like me to speak against this (I am not involved with the health service) is not a problem. For a fairly important employee it is a problem.
Mr Bridgeford might be unpopular because he does not hold the same opinions as others on this site but that just shows that all of the hot air about ‘free speech’ is just ….Hot Air.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Who was speaking against a Welsh-speaking service? The article said he was in trouble for complaining about Welsh nationalists in hyperbolic terms. And what does your second point mean? I’m not infringing on someone’s free speech by disagreeing with them.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

Chris you are so right and don’t you think that perhaps this confirms our worst fears.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I don’t normally agree with Mark, but I agree with much of this. That said, I don’t see the point of having a role dedicated to improving health education etc in a country where the government confines everyone to their homes on a routine basis, thereby depriving them of exercise, vitamin D and fresh air, and exposing them to the virus in confined and unventilated spaces.