Home > feminism, lgbt, nursing, politics, poly > Equal marriage poses no threat to professionals “freedom of speech”

Equal marriage poses no threat to professionals “freedom of speech”

I assume nurses are included in those whose free speech is being argued to be under threat by same-sex marriage :

Carey argued that teachers, doctors and other professionals might be forced out of their jobs if they refused to embrace the proposed change to the law, an intolerant restriction on free speech

http://m.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/08/archbishop-canterbury-gay-marriage-tory?cat=society&type=article

When working as a nurse, I don’t have the same right to free speech I have the rest of the time. Society has entrusted me with power and responsibility to care for people at their most vulnerable. Were Carey or Widdecombe to be my patients, I would not consider I have the “right” to tell them what I think of their oppressive ideas. When I have patients in who have jobs that I consider abhorrent, I do not let them know that. I’ve even given a bedbath to someone covered in nazi insignia – I made a believable excuse and left his room briefly when I saw it to cover my shock and horror. Then I regained my professional mask, put my personal values and Jewish identity away, and I think treated him as well as I treat every other patient requiring my care. That is what I require of myself as a nurse – that I do not abuse the power that I have been given. Patients rights to autonomy, dignity and respect outweigh my rights to free speech. I would not carry out a procedure that I consider unethical, but I would not insist on doing something that I consider in the “patient’s best interests” if they have refused consent. Their rights outweigh mine – they are vulnerable and under my power and I have agreed to be tasked with looking after them. I am not there to push my own agenda; my patients require me to help them with their agenda. It would be an abuse of what I have been tasked to do to claim my right to free speech meant I could refuse to recognise a patients same-sex spouse.

Getting married currently could be considered to be oppressive, because those getting wedded are taking advantage of heterosexism and monogamous privilege* but that would not give me the right to refuse to recognise that my patients are married.

The anti equality crowd have decided to adopt the same language of “protecting rights” in order to try and paint their increasingly retrogressive views as in keeping with the language and stated values of the political class and modern society. It reminds me of an abuser trying to claim that they have the right to safe space too and to not be challenged on their abuse as it is upsetting for them. It is an attempt to defend oppression with rhetorical devices and twisting logic around to try to turn themselves into the victims. But they are not victims defending rights to free speech, they are oppressors trying to shore up a system of privilege. That the only way they can defend this is with weak and false appeals to the “right to free speech of professionals” shows how empty their case really is.

* I do not consider those getting married oppressive, but I do consider the system oppressive.

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  1. vez
    October 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Couldn’t have said this any better than myself. I’ve had similar situations where patients have made racist or homophobic comments while I’ve been attending to them. Instead of challenging them or waving a bit rainbow flag above my head, I’ve kept my mouth shut and silently fumed inside, whilst smiling and giving excellent care. Our duty of care required us to look after scumbags and saints equally.

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