A rule is a rule

We haven’t had a round of spot-the-community in a long time, so let’s have one now. Let’s look at the way the peculiar insistence on describing everything as a ‘community’ and everyone as a member of a ‘community’ can cause reporters to write what ends up being just plain inaccurate.

There’s a piece in the Independent about an Evangelical Chistian reverend who has been appointed to a human rights outfit.

Secular groups have asked for the removal of the Rev Joel Edwards, a vocal campaigner against legislation banning discrimination against the gay community, from the post of commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

But the legislation doesn’t ban discrimination against ‘the gay community,’ it bans discrimination against gay people; particular, individual, gay people, in particular individual situations. Why say ‘the gay community’ instead of just ‘gays’ or ‘gay people’? Is the need to say ‘community’ so ingrained now that journalists think it’s somehow rude to refer to people in any other way? But if so, why?

And there’s the piece in the Times telling us that Jehovah’s Witnesses say Emma Gough did the right thing.

To agree to a transfusion would have been a transgression comparable to adultery or sexual immorality, a spokesman from the central office of the British community of Jehovah’s Witnesses told The Times yesterday.

The…wot? The central office of the British community of Jehovah’s Witnesses? There’s a central office of something called the British community of Jehovah’s Witnesses? It’s not just the central office of Jehovah’s Witnesses UK or British Jehovah’s Witnesses? But then why isn’t ‘community’ capitalized? Probably because it isn’t called that; the word ‘community’ is just some kind of bizarre honourific now, applied to everyone with a lavish hand.

Terry Lovejoy, a member of the Jehovah’s Witness community in Telford, said: “We are trying to help them through an intense period of grief and mourning.”

What we are not doing, of course, is re-thinking the ‘community’s position on blood transfusion.

At the central office for Jehovah’s Witnesses in London, Paul Gillies, its spokesman, said: “If someone did [have a blood transfusion] they would be saying they don’t really believe in one of the central tenets of the faith…It says to abstain from adultery, to abstain from blood, to abstain from immorality,” he said…“If someone said, ‘Don’t drink alcohol’ and I injected it into my arms instead, that would just be a way round the law’.”

Yes but did someone say ‘Don’t drink alcohol even if a drink of alcohol would save your life?’ Do you recognize any kind of hierarchy of commands and laws and duties? Do you see any difference between, say, ‘please don’t leave your dirty dishes on the table for me to clean up’ and ‘don’t commit mass murder’? Do you see any difference between ‘don’t cross the street in the middle of the block’ and ‘don’t cross the street in the middle of the block even if you’re running away from a tsunami’?

I gotta go, I have a pile of old ‘Watchtowers’ that needs reading.

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