Co-op VS Christian Voice, Good: Visa VS Wikileaks, Bad - keeping cognitive dissonance in check

An important disclaimer: If I had to wrap my positive feelings about Christian Voice to place under the Christmas tree then I would end up being visited by three ghosts, who would proclaim me a scrooge. They would take me to the past, present and future of Christian Voice before apologising for wasting my time, shaking my hand and heading off to pick on its director, Stephen Green.

Christian Voice (CV) are a diminutive, pointless, homophobic group given a ridiculous amount of undue exposure in the media, due to an honourable but badly applied understanding of what balance requires.

I do not believe they represent the views of the average Christian – but at the same time I wish moderate Christians were a lot more vocal in distancing themselves from them.

So hopefully no one can mistake this article to be in anyway supportive of CV. They’re dicks.

I say this because I’ve noticed something interesting on twitter this evening. My timeline (a typically skeptical and rational group) has become inundated with people congratulating Co-op on their treatment of CV. In short, Co-op refused CV banking and asked them to leave due to CV’s homophobia.

The CV’s version of events can be read here

If I ran a bank, the last people I would want opening an account are the CV. Obviously. But the support for the actions of the Co-op that I saw on twitter seems easily given and without due consideration.

Especially considering the story is from 2005 and is currently bubbling up again as old stories are want to do.

It was only the other side of xmas that the same feed was outraged that VISA, Mastercard, Amazon and Paypal decided to cancel Wikileaks ability to bank and receive donations.

It would be easy to become distracted now about the reasons behind the cancellation of services provided to Wikileaks and crucially to anyone who wanted to donate to them. Whether it was due to Government pressure; and/or the fear of cables related to banks*; or even claimed ToS violations**

The cognitive dissonance between these two view points should be apparent. As rational thinkers it should be obvious that we can not simultaneously support and condone banks for restricting financial operations to organisations based purely on whether we like that organisation.

Should British Gas also request Christian Voice get another energy provider?

No matter the reason for the retraction of service it doesn’t justify the actions that were taken. In either case.

There is currently a battle to preserve and promote Net Neutrality and deal with the idiocies of the Digital Economy Bill. In which people were, rightly, horrified about the idea that people might lose their internet access on accusations of copy right infringement.

This is an important issue because it is nearly impossible to function without an internet connection. You lose your voice, your access to knowledge and the ability to function in society.

The same is true with banking facilities. Without access to money your ability to function becomes impossible. An issue which becomes ever more significant with the move away from physical to digital money.

The counter argument is that as an ethical bank, Co-op was merely sticking to it’s principles.

However, ethical banking means that the banks commits to investing your money in organisations and actions which are consider ethical.

To ensure that it does not use your money to profit from actions you consider unethical.

It does not, and should not, mean that you have to pass a morality test to join; because that places the bank (and not consumer) as the arbiter of what is ethical.

If we find it acceptable for the Co-op to refuse to allow homophobes the right to bank then it is only fair that we consider it acceptable for a non-ethical bank to refuse homosexuals the right to bank.

Regardless of your position towards Christian Voice or Wikileaks it is crucial that organisations are allowed to function and can not be neutered and censored by corporations acting outside the law.

Democracy stands by the assertion that you don’t censor people who are wrong, but you debate them into obscurity. Celebrating the closure of CVs banking facilities is celebrating censorship and not debate.

Because money talks, and without it you can’t.

Another disclaimer: I’ve been stuck on a 3G connection for weeks now so have not been able to follow up references and such to levels I would like. So I am happy (as always) to accept corrections and the like.

* A fear which appears to have lead to pre-emptive registering of critical url addresses of various bankers

** Which it would seem the KKK do not violate

19 comments:

Brian Clegg said...

Excellent argument - as long as an organization is legal, the bank has no business withdrawing facilities, whether it's CV or Wikileaks. Long live rationality.

Anonymous said...

Good point well made. I noticed this at the time and I'm trying to write an article about this tying it in to a wider point about open platforms (like net neutrality) now ...

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the situation is:

The Co-op's credit facility is provided by 'ethical investment funds', which forbid lending to homophobic groups (among many others - arms dealers, polluters, etc).

If their standard business account comes with an overdraft facility, they wouldn't be able to offer that account to Christian Voice - it would be a breach of contract with their creditors.

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