The Murders in Paris yesterday have quite rightly been universally condemned as an unacceptable assault on freedom of speech. DZ has been a fan of Charlie Hebdo for some time and has used some of their cartoons here on this blog. He is deeply saddened by the fact that people have been killed simply for expressing their views.
It may be seen as not in the same league but here in the UK the same principle is being tested in relation to a member of the medical profession who has run into trouble for airing his views. I've not actually read anything written by Meirion Thomas but it appears to be distasteful to many. But freedom of speech applies to all, and we're just as entitled to express controversial views as any.
The view has been expressed that the disciplinary action taken against him by his employers is justified as it might be implied that he is “speaking on behalf of his employer”. Bollocks! It's even been stated that we “don't know what's in his contract”. Let's lay that one to rest for a start. He'll have a contract on national terms and conditions, the same as every other consultant in the land. And there, at paragraph 330 of the Terms and Conditions of Service for Hospital Medical and Dental Staff, it states; “A practitioner shall be free, without prior consent of the employing authority, to publish books, articles, etc, and to deliver any lecture or speak, whether on matters arising out of his or her hospital service or not.” It doesn't say anything about “representing his employer.” It doesn't say anything about it at article 10 of the human rights act either.
Lets get this straight. This is simply an attempt to create a loophole, to gag people and prevent them from expressing unfashionable views. It's a screen, hidden behind by cowards who want to shut someone up because they don't like the views expressed. It's even been tried by that hive of scum and villainy the GMC who have tried to suggest that bloggers, in what they write, might be considered as representing the views of the profession as a whole. The implication is that this gives them a loophole to fuck us over if we say stuff they don't like.
To be fair to the GMC the penny seems to have dropped on this occasion and they have declined to take action against Mr Thomas for speaking his mind. Good for them. They got it right this time.
The argument that you can't speak in case someone thinks you're doing so on behalf of someone else is totally manufactured, contrived and indefensible. Those who side with management on this occasion are walking a dangerous path. If they are allowed to get away with it on this occasion, then they'll be able to invoke it again against anyone else they please. Allowing Mr Thomas to be gagged allows us all to be gagged.