Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Shame

This story is so appalling, I would like to think this couldn’t happen here. However, given the tenor of the times, and my [limited] exposure to the anti-war websites (no I’m not going to link them), such an incident is not beyond the realm of possibility in certain parts of the US. In fact there are those cretins who show up at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to jeer at our wounded.

So I’ll admit that when I saw the headline, I avoided the story because - American that I am - I am not good at tolerating problems that don’t seem to have a solution. We hate quandaries that we can’t solve with some kind of fund-raising project.

Here’s the headline from The Daily Mail that made me avoid opening the story:

Wounded Iraq veterans driven out of public pool when told they might scare children

Ugh. I clicked to another page. No need to feel outrage over something thousands of miles away that I could not change. The headline stayed with me, though, and I thought of the soldiers and how embittering the experience must have been.

Then, we got an email from John at Average Gay Joe and that helpless feeling dissipated:
- - - - - - - - -
Good evening... If you’ve heard of the appalling story about wounded Brit vets being jeered by some...ill-mannered members of the public let’s say, thanks to a reader at one of the blogs I post at, a link to an organization that is raising money for these guys has been found. I myself am putting something up at both sites I post at tomorrow when I update them. I’m hoping that the blogosphere can do something to help these guys! Please do what you can. Thanks.

AGJ enclosed two links, one to The Daily Mail, and another to The Telegraph.

Here is the Mail‘s version:

Soldiers who suffered appalling injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan were verbally abused as they swam in a public swimming pool.

During a weekly rehabilitation class at a council leisure centre, 15 servicemen - including several who have lost limbs or suffered severe burns - were heckled and jeered by members of the public.

One woman was so incensed that the troops were using the pool at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey that she told them they did not deserve to be there.

She became increasingly abusive, screaming that it was wrong for staff to rope off a lane exclusively for the injured personnel from the nearby Headley Court rehabilitation centre.

The swimmer, thought to be in her 30s, is understood to have said: "I pay to come here and swim - you lot don’t."

The abuse was witnessed by 79-year-old Korean War veteran Charles Murrin, who said yesterday: "I could not believe what she was saying.

"The lane was roped off, which they do every week. It wasn’t as if the pool was completely closed. Her group had the rest of the pool to swim in.

"She said the men do not deserve to be in there and that she pays money to come in the pool and they don’t."

The soldiers, who use the pool as part of a water therapy course, were quickly ordered out by their instructor to avoid further embarrassment.

Mr Murrin, who served in the Royal Navy, added: "I spoke to the instructor in the changing room afterwards and he was livid.

"I know what these people are going through, because I talk to them and I have got quite friendly with them."

Linda Sinclair, of Leatherhead, also witnessed the abuse.

She said: "It was a few people that were complaining and it made me cross. I really felt for those soldiers."

The incident, which took place on November 13, came as a national appeal was launched to raise £5million to build a new rehabilitation pool and gym at Headley Court.

The centre treats 180 injured servicemen who have to make a half-hour trip to Leatherhead to use the pool.

Last night, Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commander, told of his dismay at the incident.

He said: "It may well be that these people had paid for the use of the pool, but our soldiers have paid so much more for their country."

The bureaucrats said their meaningless phrases - the kind that have had all the blood and life wrung out of them:

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are disappointed that a small number of people objected to the closure of swimming lanes so that patients of Headley Court could use them."

A spokesman for Mole Valley District Council, which owns the leisure centre, said: "There appears to have been a rare incident where two members of the public queried the provision of lanes of the swimming pool for Headley Court.

"While we wouldn’t condone what happened, staff did their best to accommodate all concerned and acted professionally in dealing with the situation."

You read those sentences and you wonder if these "spokesmen" are any better than the jeering women. If one of these soldiers were my son, the first place I’d head to would be the Mole Valley District Council. And then I’d find the right office in the Ministry of Defence.

The first would be pilloried for not being able to come up with a stronger sentiment than "disappointment."

The latter would have been thwacked for their CYA jabber, as in "staff did their best to accommodate all concerned..." and I would promptly start a petition for a change in the rules regarding "accommodation for narcissist bullies, which these whingeing women obviously are.

But I don’t have a son there, and I wouldn’t know how to start a petition.

Fortunately, Average Gay Joe had a link to an organization that can help thwack these idjit women raise funds for heroes. You can use their secure site to donate by credit card.

When you go over to Help for Heroes, make sure to read the page about all the fund-raising activities people are doing. It’s a wonderful, heart-warming variety of events, from marathons to climbing mountains, to hosting dinners, to having school fairs. A favorite of some of our UK readers, however, might be this one:

Brewers Shepherd Neame are backing Help for Heroes and helping to support our troops with this great idea. They are producing boxes of 24 Spitfire stubbies with the H4H logo and the slogan ‘Real Bottle’. The packs will be available from Majestic, Booths, Nisa and Makro nationwide in time for Christmas and here’s the best bit... All the brewing profits will benefit our wounded.

The commenters on the story all expressed outrage. At the Mail a woman from Ripon noted that this kind of shunning of the disabled is not unusual:

The women’s selfish attitude disgusts, but doesn’t surprise me. I’ve witnessed similar behaviour at a café when a group of mentally and physically disabled people were innocently enjoying ice cream. Some customers wanted them banned because they were ‘unsightly’. Fortunately, the café owner stood up for them and showed the protestors the door. I hope the same will happen in future in Surrey.

The staff at the pool should have shown the same moral indignation to those women that the café owner did.

Do you think that the difference in attitude between a small-business owner and a government employee is the personal investment an owner has?


Darrin Hodges said...

I find that I have no words to describe the utter moral destitution of these vermin. These creatures have apparently no problem with Muslims, who have slaughtered commuters on their way to work, with taking over the pool because of the dictates of their religion, yet the condemn servicemen, who have sacrificed greatly.

I've also been promoted to Harbi

Zoe i thanatos said...

What is not explicated above is whether or not the offending women were "asian". If so, that would better explain there unwillingness to share the facilities.

Holger said...

It's so disgusting to see what is happening in Europe. In a way, even I as a Europan, feel we deserve what is coming our way. I am appalled!

Ginro said...

Yes I read about that last week, and also have a link to HfH on my site.
What angers me even more about this is the fact that to date no one appears to have named and shamed those women. Surely someone knows who they are?

Homophobic Horse said...

Rudeness and aggression is a problem in Britain right now. Personally I think it's displaced anger against Schools and Hospitals that leave us sicker and stupider then before.

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

I'd tell the woman that if she didn't want to be permanently disfigured herself she'd shut her mouth and get the H*ll out, and Yes, I'm willing to risk jail time to make her so.

I may not really be the type (maybe I am...I don't know yet), but I think the threat sometimes is enough for some people. "Bully the Bullies," I sometimes say.

OT - Darrin, you're actually spot on about the Tabligh...Good Show!

RISE_UP said...

I agree with you Kafir. The sooner we start kicking arses the better off we all will be. There will be no stop to the pushing.The more appeasement, the more is wanted and I am sick and tired of hearing that offened crap. I d like to show some offense

Unknown said...

A couple of nags whined about the troops, yet the tone of this blog makes it seem that there is another "left/liberal/Islamic/military-hating assaulting/spitting on our brave troops" story. Wow, let's find them out and cut their tongues out!

Dymphna said...

Jeremy, jeremy...

can't you say anything original. Just one sentence, please?

A feckless group of govt employees allowed wounded soldiers to be kicked out of a pool because looking at them offended two women who have all the charm of harridans.

If you read the story, you see the onlookers didn't agree with them/you.

Grow up.

Unknown said...

You're absolutely correct, I should've just ranted and raved and made hollow threats and hurled insults at these women then go on to a generalized rant about the British welfare state. But frankly, that is a waste of energy

Kafir_Kelbeh said...


I'm not sure you'd be interesting in testing the "hollow threats" theory right may not turn out in your favor. People in civil society have been pushed well past their limits. That is our point here, and you are one of the many who are continuing to make it.

So go ahead, continue to poke your stick at bears.

Snake Oil Baron said...

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

"I'd tell the woman that if she didn't want to be permanently disfigured herself she'd shut her mouth and get the H*ll out, and Yes, I'm willing to risk jail time to make her so."


RISE_UP said...

"I agree with you Kafir. The sooner we start kicking arses the better off we all will be."

Here are a couple of instance where I agree with the emotion but not the conclusion. What these people did went beyond political expression and amounted to a fundamental disrespect of the soldiers as human beings. The "reason" given for this (scaring the children) would never have been accepted by people like jeremy if it was said about factory workers who were undergoing therapy after an accident. There would certainly have been no jeering. Incarcerated prisoners who were guilty of rape and murder would have been allowed to receive physical therapy at that pool without anyone giving a word of protest.

But "ass-kicking" needs to be reserved for the truly vicious, not the ignorant and heartless. Their should certainly be repercussion; ranging from public exposure (by the real media) of their decision to behave like animals to criminal charges of harassment for those who jeered. But people judge an issue by the behavior of those involved. Beating up or threatening a crazy lady is nowhere near as effective as exposing her subhumanity to the world.

Snake Oil Baron said...

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

"...People in civil society have been pushed well past their limits. That is our point here, and you are one of the many who are continuing to make it.

So go ahead, continue to poke your stick at bears."

This brings up an interesting point, the cultural norms that are generally acknowledged by civil society (such as don't spit on people who you disagree with or try to chase them out of public swimming pools) are meant to keep people from resorting to violence. But if a bunch of anti-war zealots feel that they can do whatever they want to whomever they want to make their point then why should anyone bother to restrain themselves. jeremy seems to be making a a good argument for the ass-kicking methodology.

Well done, jeremy

Unknown said...

Basically, I think these women are contemptible. But I would like to know the motivation behind their actions; Were they Muslim sympathizers, left wing pacifistic twits or just uppity women who because they felt grossed out by some of the more gruesome wounds, reacted like snotty nabobs>