There’s been a fairly understandable level of uproar across the city since the city council published then unpublished and then republished its report (pdf) into Lib Dem councillor Shirley Marshall and her notorious ‘coconut’ slur (Blogger passim).
The crux of the problem seems to lie in the rather odd conclusions council officers have drawn from their investigation:
Having studied the various Statutes and case law, I am of the opinion that the term ‘coconut’ undeniably has a racial element to it and is offensive and insulting.
We’re told. Then:
my conclusion is that although the term ‘coconut’ undeniably has a racial element to it, its use in this particular context does not constitute racial abuse. It is, however, an offensive and insulting term.
So they somehow conclude an offensive and insulting term with a racial element does not constitute racial abuse. And:
If I am asked to recommend a sanction then I would say that NO FURTHER ACTION is required.
This perverse conclusion certainly pissed off Cancer editor, Mike Norton, who produced an uncharacteristically brutal editorial on the matter:
The report which recommends no action against Ms Brown is gutless and depressing.
Reject it for the absurd piece of lily-livered, fence-sitting that it is and throw it in the bin.
Norton does have a fair point. The conclusion is bollocks.
But wait. Check carefully and you’ll see the report was written by Shahzia Daya, an employee of Bristol City Council. Shirley Marshall and her Lib Dem leadership are this woman’s bosses.
Is Ms Daya really in a position to state the conclusion that we all want hear – ie. “kick this racist cow out of public life”?
Not if she wants to have a career she’s not.
Perhaps the ‘independent’ Standards Board, made up of members of the public whose mortgage payments aren’t riding on the result, might see things differently?
Marshall’s hearing in front of the Standards Board is on Tuesday at 9.30am at the Council House.