Cllr John Dixon, a Lib Dem councillor on Cardiff City Council, is under investigation after a critical message on Twitter about Scientologists.
His Tweet said:
"I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."
A complaint was made by a scientologist to the Ombudsman for Public Services in Wales. They found there was a case to answer under the code of conduct for councillors and has passed the matter on to Cardiff City Council's standards and ethics committee. Cllr Dixon's Twitter account identified him as a councillor. As councillors we are obliged to be respectful.
Perhaps the Scientologists have a point in demanding equal treatment. What if he had made the equivalent comment about Christianity or Islam? Probably thousands of local councillors are atheists. I think it would have been disrespectful for them to express there views in such terms – but that in a free society it should be allowed. Those who feel Cllr Dixon is a disrespectful fellow have the remedy of voting him out of office.
Supposing I had tweeted:
"I didn't know the Lib Dems had an office on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."
Would Cllr Dixon be entitled to have a complaint upheld against me? The rules have become absurd.
Daniel Finkelstein takes up the case in The Times (£) this morning.
"It can be hard to pin down the theology of Scientologists, but according to one account (pieced together by the Los Angeles Times) they believe that 75 million years ago a tyrant named Xenu ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including Earth, then called Teegeeack.
To solidify his power, Xenu instructed his loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sizes from the various planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by the billions to Earth in aircraft resembling DC8s. Some of the beings were captured after being duped into showing up for a phoney tax investigation.
The Scientologists may be right on the money with this Xenu stuff, of course, but it doesn’t seem to me that it is a breach of any code of conduct to advance the hypothesis that it is stupid."