The Corner

RELIGION AND ITS PRIVILEGES

A few weeks ago, I linked to the story that the authorities responsible for running a municipal swimming pool in Croydon, South London (the borough, incidentally, that has the honor of being the birthplace of the great Kate Moss) had reserved a particular time each week for what the Sun described as ‘Muslim-only’ sessions (No women were allowed, but in a gesture of open-mindedness, all men, regardless of religion, were allowed so long as they adhered to supposedly Islamic notions of appropriate swimming gear).

Now (via the London Evening Standard) we have this new swimming pool shocker: “Wolverhampton City Council [Wolverhampton is a town in the English Midlands] employs special life-guards and instructors for the sessions, which are open to the city’s black and Asian residents only. It claims the weekly periods are for women and children with “religious or cultural issues which would otherwise prevent them from taking part.” But furious pool-users say they amount to racial segregation and claim they are being prevented from using the pool – simply because they may be white. The hour-long, Thursday evening sessions at Wolverhampton’s Central Baths replace an aqua-aerobics session that was previously open to all. They are financially supported by Kellogg’s Swim Active programme, which has funded the installation of special blinds around the pool, designed to protect swimmers’ privacy.”

It’s interesting to see what Kellogg is choosing to support these days. I don’t think I’ll be choosing to support many of that company’s products in future.

Even more interesting, for connoisseurs of these matters, is the defense that Wolverhampton City Council has come up to justify its conduct ( “It is one of the most ambitious schemes in the country and aims to tackle childhood obesity, engage the city’s ethnic minority communities and work with children who fear water”), an explanation that combines “the Children” with the “war against obesity” and multiculturalist cant in a sanctimonious frenzy unequalled since the last time that Jimmy Carter opened his mouth.

That explanation is also nonsense in more than just the obvious way. The key issue here is almost certainly religion, and I think we can guess which one, so why not admit it? Of course, what people choose to believe is up to them. That those beliefs entitle them to special tax-funded privileges is, however, unacceptable, unfair and, utimately, highly divisive.

Hat-tip: Scott Burgess, who is (I’m delighted to say) back.

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