Here's an interesting article about a Pagan who claims that he was denied a permit to work as a limo driver because of his religion and his sexual preference for BDSM. The Pagan, Peter Hayes, makes some claims about his interview that, if true, would be pretty disturbing:
He applied for a chauffeur's permit with the Vancouver Police Department's taxi unit in May 2005, and was interviewed by Barker, who was tasked with vetting his application.
Hayes arrived at the interview dressed all in black: black trench coat, black shirt, black dress pants, black tie and shiny black military boots.
When Barker asked what the occasion was for all the black, Hayes testified that he said he always wore black, like many Pagans. [I'll admit that I know lots of non-Pagans who wear a lot of black and that I know many Pagans who dress in all the colors of the rainbow. The limos and town cars I've been in have all been driven by drivers wearing black suits and a white shirt. I'm unaware of any branch of Paganism that requires its members to wear all black, and one can question the intelligence both of dressing that way for such an interview and of immediately referring to one's religion, rather than just saying, "Oh, it's just how I usually dress," or something. However, neither the fact that Mr. Hayes wears black nor the fact that he's a Pagan appear to be legitimate reasons for denying him a permit to drive a limo.]
During the interview, Barker told Hayes that he would not be granted a permit.
Hayes testified before the tribunal that the officer called him a "sex cult leader" during the interview, and was refusing the permit because of that. [It's unclear how Mr. Hayes' sexual preferences came up during the interview.]
He also said that Barker was "completely unprofessional, snarky and demeaning," "intentionally aggressive" and "rude and insulting."
In a letter to the VPD, Hayes wrote that Barker told him he posed "an extreme risk of recruiting passengers/customers into my cult during work hours."
The authorities, obviously, tell a different story:
But Barker told the tribunal that he denied the permit after a background check revealed a series of troubling allegations against Hayes spanning 10 years.This decision also appears to eliminate the opportunity for the relevant board to consider whether BDSM is a protected sexual orientation.
In the mid-1990s, Hayes was charged with the sexual assault of a child, although he was eventually acquitted. A decade later, in 2003, neighbours called the police to say that Hayes had danced naked in his bedroom in view of small children, but no charges were laid.
That same year, Hayes's live-in girlfriend reported to police that he had pushed and scratched her, but she did not want to pursue charges.
Barker testified that even though Hayes had not been convicted of a crime, he was worried that he could "be alone in the limo with the doors locked, gosh knows where, with kids or a female relying on him to get her home."
The tribunal ruled that Barker's testimony was credible, and that he was unaware of Hayes's religion or BDSM practices before the interview. [The fact that he was unaware of Mr. Hayes' religion and sexual proclivities before the interview seems irrelevant. If he became aware of them during the interview and used them as the basis for denying a permit, that would seem to be inappropriate.]
So, was this a case of discrimination? Reasonable caution? What's your take?
The article includes the all-too-frequent confusion as to whether or not to capitalize the word "Pagan." First, we get:
A Vancouver man's enthusiasm for bondage and his pagan beliefs were not the reason he was denied a permit to drive a limousine
but later in the article, we get:
According to tribunal documents, Hayes says that he is a practicing Pagan.
This isn't complicated, people. "Pagan," as used here, is an umbrella term that describes a category of religions that include Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, etc., just as the term "Christian" describes a category of religions that includes Catholicism, Baptists, Methodists, etc. If you would capitalize "Christian," (an you know that you would) then you should capitalize "Pagan."
I guess that we should be grateful that the anonymous, meant-to-titillate photo chosen to illustrate the story focuses upon Mr. Hayes' sexual practices rather than upon his religion.
Picture found here.