UK Man Banned from Library for Refusing the Help of a Homosexual Librarian

Joe Fairclough, 58, who considers himself to be a campaigner against gay rights, was jailed for 8 hours and later banned from the Leigh Library in Manchester, England.

The Manchester Evening News reports that the library council defended its decision to ban Mr. Fairclough for `unacceptable behaviour'.

Police say he was arrested for a public order offence when two library employees complained that his comments caused them alarm and distress.

But after being interviewed, Mr. Fairclough was not charged as there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to cause distress.

Trouble flared after a member of staff, who is gay and has been through a civil partnership ceremony, offered to help Mr. Fairclough with an inquiry.

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

sweet

Stands on chair, applauds

He was arrested for an opinion?

This is absurd. He was arrested and banned from the library for his opinion.

How as librarians can we condone that, no matter how repugnant we find his opinion?

He asked for a different staff member, but rather just accede to his request the librarian felt a need to interrogate him. He should not have asked a question to which he might not like the answer.

He posted his opinion on a public library notice board.

He demonstrated in the public square in front of the library.

The only response so far is someone applauding because a man was arrested for his opinion.

He wasn't charged - even though he sat in a jail cell for a day- because it could not be proven he intended to cause distress. It is a crime to say something mean to someone in the UK on purpose. Don't they have any real crime? No bus bombings or anything?

If you are a librarian and you feel that banning someone from the library for expressing the opinion you are discredit the profession.

Another similar incident.

A CAMPAIGNER against Republicans was locked in a police cell for eight hours after he refused to be served by a Republican librarian.Devout Liberal Joe Fairclough, 58, describes Republicans as an abomination.Now he has been banned from his local library after telling a Republican employee he wanted to be served by a different member of staff because he was opposed to his politics.Mr Fairclough, a married father of three, was arrested after making the remarks and put in police custody before being released without charge.The incident happened at Leigh Library. The body which runs it on behalf of Wigan Council has defended its decision to ban Mr Fairclough for `unacceptable behaviour'.Police say he was arrested for a public order offence when two library employees complained that his comments caused them alarm and distress.But after being interviewed, Mr Fairclough was not charged as there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to cause distress.Trouble flared after a member of staff, who is Republican offered to help Mr Fairclough with an inquiry.Mr Fairclough said: "I asked him if anyone else could help me, and he asked why. I pointed towards a Republican button on his shirt."I went back the next day and two members of staff told me to leave because I had insulted their colleague. I refused. A caretaker came over and eventually the police came."A police constable took me into a square outside the library and I gave him my side of the story, but he did not take notes."Mr Fairclough, a semi-retired plumber, went to Leigh Police station to complain about the way he had been treated. But he was arrested after police received complaints about his behaviour.He said he was held eight and a half hours. When he was released at 11.30pm the bus station was shut so he had to walk home to Leigh.He added "I am against Republicans but I don't wish anyone any harm."The library worker involved said Mr Fairclough's remarks were `very anti-Republican.'A spokesman for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust said: "We take a serious view of verbal abuse, intimidation or violence against any of our staff."This wasn't an isolated case and our code of conduct has a variety of sanctions, including banning people from our facilities."Previously Mr Fairclough had put comments, deemed anti-Republican, on the library notice board and staged a protest outside the library against voting rights for Republicans.A police spokesman said: "The library customer's behaviour was unacceptable and was the culmination of a number of incidents involving this man at the library over the course of a year."Should Mr Fairclough have been banned? Have your say.

Sweet

I stand on my chair and salute.

Re:Another similar incident.

"On LIS News, Chuck came first for the conservative Christians, And I didn't post because I wasn't a Conservative Christian;
        And then Anonymous Patron pretended to come for the Democrats, And I didn't post because I know that Republicans actually do believe in free speech for Democrats, too, even though Democrats rarely return the favor;
        And then Kelly came for the Jews - uh, I mean Israeli Occupiers - And I didn't speak up because my friends in Academia might then think I didn't approve of their accessorizing with "peace scarves";
        And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to post."

SHOCK! HORROR!

I am SHOCKED! SHOCKED!!, I tell you, that many people who loudly proclaim the holiness of free speech can so quickly find self-evident reasons to deny it when confronted with opinions contrary to their own. What is this world coming to?

Re:SHOCK! HORROR!

Under the sarcasm, the Bill Clinton Classic Defense: "Everyone else does it, too."

the point

He was banned for harassing a staff member. That should be commended (the banning that is, not the harassing.)Patrons aren't allowed to insult, badger, intimidate, threaten, degrade or harass my staff in my library. You are not a patron at that point. You are a person enjoying the view from the sidewalk.

Re:Another similar incident.

Message boards are teh Lolocaust. M n ur bazez, kilin al ur homeskoolin dudez.

Re:Another similar incident.

You're partly right, Chuck; my comment was indeed a ridiculous comparison between Niemoller's poem and the LIS News responses to the article.But that's because my comment was just a joke!More seriously, though, the plumber may have been obnoxious and deserving of being asked to leave, but that's not certain from the article. Maybe the librarian insisted - obnoxiously - on being given the reason this patron wanted someone else to help him, instead of (because the customer is always right) simply honoring a calmly stated request. Who knows?However, even with the minimal certainties presented, surely you agree that by the leakiest standard of free expression there is no way he should have been "banned" from the library and no way he should have been arrested?Also BTW, don't take this personally, but your imitation of text messaging has a severe case of halitosis.

Ban Islamic women?

I was working at a medical library and we had several muslim women that would not work with the male librarians. They would only speak to the female librarians. Should we have banned them? I was honestly offended when they would not work with me. Was I not in the same situation as the gay librarian?

Re:the point

I don't like your shirt (or you marriage, or your car) is harassing someone?

Please, having a different opinion and expressing that opinion is not harassing. There is no right to be free from offense in the UK.

The article mentions no instance of harassing anyone. They called the cops because they don't like him expressing his religious convictions. If his religion required him to smoke pot and crap himself they would run circles around themselves to accommodate him. But since his religion prohibits same sex marriage he is an outcast from the ever so tolerant librarians.

hmm

Good question. I don't know.I don't know how it is in England but in the U.S. men aren't considered a protected class of people, but gays (to some extent) are.

Re:Ban Islamic women?

I have had Islamic women patients as an RN. I - and all of the other nurses I work with- have no problem switching patients for a few minutes for the patient's comfort. We have done that thousands of times because people just prefer a nurse of the same gender.

We also have patients that just want a different nurse for very strange reasons, once I had a patient who did not want me as their nurse because he did not want a 'Dago' touching him. (I am unmistakably not Italian looking. I'm black Irish.) but another nurse and I switched patients and everybody was happy.

If someone told me they wanted a different nurse, or librarian I would find them another. I would not ask why.

I often helped a very nice family in the library who were observant Muslims. They had no problem working with me, but then again we were not discussing medical topics, but chemistry and movies for the most part. The daughters were not uncomfortable working with me, but I am not a real touchy-feely person -not just with Muslim women, but with anyone, so that may have made a difference.

Re:the point

I don't like your shirt (or you marriage, or your car) is harassing someone?

Of course not. Who said anything about that? Are you having trouble with your eyes?

Please, having a different opinion and expressing that opinion is not harassing. There is no right to be free from offense in the UK.

It's not that simple. If I disagree with you about the local tax rate or the quality of the produce at Herrods then yes you are right. If I think that you and your boyfriend are sinners or gross or whatever and I go around telling you that every time I see you, that's harassment.

Everyone has the right to express their opinions. But you don't have the right to do it in the place, time and manner of your choosing.

The article mentions no instance of harassing anyone.

Asking someone to go away and not talk to you or be near you because you're gay is insulting and inappropriate

They called the cops because they don't like him expressing his religious convictions.

I think if he'd said "Hey, you know what I hate? Graven images. Hate 'em." there might not have been a problem. Saying "It's my religion" is not a defense 100% of the time.

If his religion required him to smoke pot and crap himself they would run circles around themselves to accommodate him.

And if me sister 'ad bollocks she'd be me brother. I'm not sure what that does for this discussion.

But since his religion prohibits same sex marriage he is an outcast from the ever so tolerant librarians.

Not exactly. Because he believed that his religious beliefs entitled him to insult a member of the library staff he was kicked out.

And in the civilized world "tolerant" is not a slur.

I wonder if his beliefs lead him to question all the service personnel he encounters? Did that cashier gamble last week? How about the newsstand guy? He looks like he sews two different crops in the same field. And if he has the same problem with people who have committed the sin of drunkeness he might like to find a nice cabin in the Scottish Highlands, but NOT interact with any Scots.

Or some parts of the Bible are more important than others. Written in the Lord's left hand, I assume.

Re:hmm

Not yet at the federal level. And no "class of people" is ever "protected" from feeling offended in the US. There's enough case law on that to squash a librarian.

Re:hmm

"Protected" means in a workplace setting or other legal context. Since this happened at work ...
   

Re:hmm

It happened in a government-run public library, which has got to be the closest thing extant to the platonic archetype of a public forum.And regarding "protected classes" no, you are wrong, so i repeat: in the United States, no one has the right to be "protected" from feeling offended by what someone else says. The staggering number of SCOTUS rulings in this regard makes it laughable that a librarian is making a "protected class argument."Harassment" has a legal definition, and always includes 1, the notion of repeated singling out of an individual, and 2, evidence of hindering that person (in work or in life) by so doing.For example, if someone is a homosexual in the United States, he is not afforded the right to silence someone else who finds his homosexuality disagreeable and tells him so, unless that person does so repeatedly, singling him out in a way that tangibly inhibits his ability to function.The "protected class" designation, when it isn't being misused by academics, leftists, and the Tolerant Classes, permits a higher penalty when these requirements are met. It doesn't have any place in - let alone trump - First Amendment law.

Re:hmm

In England I don't know what the guy's legal situation is. It's not clear that you are protected from the actions of customers, patrons, the public, roving bands of youths, etc.As I said, in my library patrons are not allowed to insult, denigrate or be rude to my staff. Violators will be asked to leave. Whether it's over fines or a lost item or someone's race or someone's "partner" ... not allowed.This is a library. Be civil or begone.

Re:hmm

There is no law against being rude. Their tax dollars pay for the public library. If they walk by and call me an fag rather than smiling and saying hello like most normal people do I can certainly be offended, I can be outraged, I can call him a pinhead, but I can't make him leave.

What do you do if you ask a patron- who called you a name or told you he thought you were going to hell or said you smell like tuna salad after a week in the sun - to leave and he says no? Call the cops? For what rudeness? Criminal smallmindedness? Felony jerk? What are the cops going to do? Make him leave, can't do that ... then you are violating his civil rights. Shoot him? Well there are those civil rights again.

There is absolutely nothing you can do. If he were yelling, or causing a disturbance or standing on the furniture thumping his religious book of choice you could have him removed for breaking the law. However since expressing an opinion, even an especially unpopular opinion, is still allowed the best thing you can do is ignore him.

Patrons can insult you and there is nothing you can do about it unless it rises to the level of disorderly conduct - a recognized legal standard - and answering the librarian's question about why he wished to be assisted by someone else is not disorderly, putting notices on a public notice board is not disorderly, and experssing an opinion in a public square is not disorderly.

You don't like it, but it does not matter.

Of course this happened in the UK and they do have laws quite different from the US including the The Employment Equality Regulations which don't apply in this case since the plumber did not employ or offer to employ a librarian. Similarly the Equality Act of 2006 does not apply since the plumber is not providing goods, services, or facilities (either for a fee or gratis)[It would be a civil violation for him not to provide plumbing services for the librarian on the basis of the librarians sexual orientation if he were offering plumbing services,but that of course is not the case here] Additionally since the SOR & Equality Act do not criminalize any act or failure to act there is no grounds for arrest under them.

There is an act relating to harassment, amazingly the Protection from Harassment Act, that does criminalize the act of harrassing another. Excerpts from that note "a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another, and is intended to amount to harassment of that person; or occurs in circumstances where it would appear to a reasonable person that it would amount to harassment of that person. "

To suggest that answering one question about why he wanted a different librarian can certainly not be construed a course of conduct.
Nor can posting notices on a public board regarding his opinion in general on homosexual unions. Had he said Librarian X is a disgusting homosexual in a civil union we could certinly call that harassment. Furthermore deomostrating in a public square in front of a library for a change in an existing law is not harassment.

The man committed no offense but he was arrested and jailed for his opinion. It is not a crime to be an ass.

NB: NONE OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONSTITUTES LEGAL ADVICE. ANYONE WHO WISHes TO KNOW HOW THE LAWS. RULES, REGULATIONS, ACTS, AND ORDERES MENTIONED WILL APPLY SPECIFICALLY TO THEIR SITUATION WILL NEED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL LEGAL ADVICE.

Sorry the caps were required.

As the sources were accessed via password protected db, I have not posted links. They are available from the UK government at various sites without charge.

Re:the point

Of course not. Who said anything about that? Are you having trouble with your eyes?
But not liking someone's sexual orientation is also an opinion. Are you having trouble with analogies?

It's not that simple. If I disagree with you about the local tax rate or the quality of the produce at Herrods then yes you are right. If I think that you and your boyfriend are sinners or gross or whatever and I go around telling you that every time I see you, that's harassment.
Even if I stipulate to that, that is not the case. He asked for a different staff member to assist him, the librarian asked why and the plumber asked. That is not 'telling him every time he saw him' that is once.

Everyone has the right to express their opinions. But you don't have the right to do it in the place, time and manner of your choosing.
Yes, even in the UK you generally still have the right to freely express your opinions in the place, time and manner of your choosing.

Asking someone to go away and not talk to you or be near you because you're gay is insulting and inappropriate
While no one asked anyone to go away or not talk to them or be near them for any reason, I will agree that it is insulting and inappropriate. But that is not at issue here.

I think if he'd said "Hey, you know what I hate? Graven images. Hate 'em." there might not have been a problem. Saying "It's my religion" is not a defense 100% of the time.
You are indeed correct it is not a defense 100% of the time. Especially not in one's workplace, not when one is offering goods, services or accommodation. However in this case it need not be a defense because the foundation of his opinion is not relevant.

And if me sister 'ad bollocks she'd be me brother. I'm not sure what that does for this discussion.
It simply notes how accommodation many people can be if they wish to be, and many librarians feel a kinship with those persons who are 'trendy' or 'cutting edge' or 'hip'. Devout Christians are none of those things.

Not exactly. Because he believed that his religious beliefs entitled him to insult a member of the library staff he was kicked out.
The basis of his opinion is immaterial. He can express his opinion if he so wishes. The fact that the librarian felt insulted is also not material. It is as offensive to require someone to refrain from expressing themselves, and far more dangerous to constrain speech than to risk offending someone's delicate sensibilities.

And in the civilized world "tolerant" is not a slur.
I never suggested it was, however the librarian failed to tolerate a viewpoint different from his and acted to deprive the plumber of his liberty. That is criminal and immoral, and in violation of Articles 2 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights which you will notice does not include a right not to be offended, insulted, PO'ed or free from jerks.

I wonder if his beliefs lead him to question all the service personnel he encounters? Did that cashier gamble last week? How about the newsstand guy? He looks like he sews two different crops in the same field. And if he has the same problem with people who have committed the sin of drunkeness he might like to find a nice cabin in the Scottish Highlands, but NOT interact with any Scots.
If you will re-read the article it was not the plumber that questioned the librarian, but the librarian that questioned the plumber. The plumber asked for a different staff member, the librarian insisted on knowing why. One cannot claim battery if you ask someone to strike you, nor can one claim offense if you insist on an answer to a question that you might find unpleasant. The remainder of that section is simply nonsense and does not warrant any further comment.

Or some parts of the Bible are more important than others. Written in the Lord's left hand, I assume.
I have no idea, I doubt I am of the same religion as the plumber and I am not a theologian.

While you may not like someone's opinion you may not discriminate against them in the provision of services because of it. That is codified in UK law and the UNDHR. This man was arrested and jailed because of his opinion. He deserves an apology at the least.

Re:hmm

Patrons who insult my staff in such a vile way will be asked to leave. If the little weasel wants to litigate it then he can take his best shot.Any staff would get the same protection. If a woman were insulted or harassed about wearing a cross or a Star of David ... WHOOSH, that guy's gone too. Fundie Protestant hassling a Catholic employee? Bye. Buh-bye.If Mr. Faircloth wants to be the Rosa Parks of bigoted weasels in my library ... bring it.

Re:hmm

You are still banishing people for their opinion.

I think it is more effective to ignore them - or at least give them the impression of ignoring them. However whenever they walk by whisper fundie, or bigot, or scumbag loud enough so only they can hear. Eventually they will cross the line and scream at you, or threaten or hit or do something that is truly disorderly conduct and which warrants their removal.

They have the right to be a rude jerk, then again so do I.

Pinheads are easy to push over the line. Not that I suggest anyone actually do this, but it is an idea, if a somewhat devious one.

Syndicate content