Sexist letters; sweatshops; school uniforms

IssueApril 2005
Comment by The Mole

In yet another delicious footnote to “the greatest corporate PR disaster in history” - as even mainstream commentators described the McLibel trial - it turns out that the leaflet criticising McDonald's now has an even larger circulation.

The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that the McLibel Two didn't have a fair trial, and had their rights to freedom of expression infringed, naturally had to include the text of the offending leaflet in its judgement, which has been helpfully posted on the court's website for all the world to read. The leaflet takes up five pages of the 36-page judgement.

The whole McLibel debacle ultimately stemmed from a single letter of complaint (sent by MuckD to the leaflet's publishers, the London Greenpeace Group) which did not - as McD were to complain in the High Court many years later - elicit a satisfactory response.

In fact there had been a response to the letter: since it started off with “Dear Sirs”, it was sent back with a scribbled note pointing out that the group would not deal with sexist material. McD didn't write again.

The name of the McDonald's lawyer responsible for that correspondence is not known, but it would be nice to know how their career has progressed.

The ECHR website reminds The Mole of a book published in Germany years back which criticised Siemens for some of its less savoury activities. The company took the campaigners to court and won a ruling that certain passages in the book had to be blacked out before it could continue being published.

But in Germany, as in Britain, material that enters the public domain in a court case is legally privileged, ie protected from legal action. So the book was indeed re-published with passages blacked out as ordered - but with the addition of a useful appendix quoting the court verdict, which necessarily included the unexpurgated text. What a wonderful wheeze.

Conscientious clothing (1)

Someone involved in No Sweat, the campaign against the use of third world sweatshops by British clothing manufacturers, has asked the Network for Peace if it is known where the UK military get their uniforms. Are they ethically sourced? If not, should the peace movement try to persuade them? A new moral conundrum for peace campaigners.

Conscientious clothing (2)

The Appeal Court has ruled that human rights considerations mean that a Muslim schoolgirl must be allowed to wear clothing which manifests her beliefs, irrespective of school uniform rules. The Mole reckons this is fine, providing that all beliefs are treated equally in a school environment.

A friend of The Mole is currently looking at returning to his previous profession as a secondary school physics teacher. So it's good to know that he won't be discriminated against in his job interviews because of his “Born Again Atheist” badge, or his “The Koran is a Load of Silly Fairy Tales which Corrupt Young Minds if Taken Seriously” t-shirt.

Of course he'll make sure they're in the proper school colours.

Topics: Religion
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