The Bald Truth

16 04 2008

It’s official – baldness is not a disability. That’s the message which has emerged from a recent court case in Scotland, reported by BBC news. James Campbell is engaged in an employment tribunal which revolves around his claim that he was discriminated against in his teaching job because of his baldness, which he claims is a disablility. Pupils would taunt him about his lack of hair, and according to the article he even feared physical assault. In seeking to be compensated for this discrimination, Campbell has been informed by a judge that his lack of follicular finesse does not qualify as a recognised impairment. A bit of a slap on the mouth (or the head?) for Mr Campbell, one would assume.

As anyone who knows me can testify, I’d be the first person to show sympathy to any man whose head is outgrowing his hair. I am currently in the process of obtaining my own ten inch parting, or tefal tonsure, and have had to come to terms with the loss of most of my fringe benefits. (I’ve opted for a shaved head by the way, rather than an ill-conceived bouffant or comb over).

I am also delighted that workplaces and colleagues cannot make a difference on the grounds of disability and that the stone age attitude of some within our society towards disability is being challenged and defeated. There are those in our community who need protection from discrimination, and who deservedly pursue their rights through the courts in an effort to make the way easier for themselves and others.

But by no stretch of the imagination is baldness a disability.

My issue with this story is the social problem which it highlights. Everyone wants to be a victim of discrimination, and being a victim can be a lucrative occupation. Our legal system offers rewards to those who can prove that they have been the butt of some kind of cruelty. Our televisions are bombarded with grinning sharp suited sharks who promise ‘no win, no fee’ compensation to everyone who has stubbed their toe on a desk, or slipped on the diet coke which one of their colleagues has spilled on the canteen floor. It seems that to get cash for cruelty one need only focus in on a prevailing weakness or sensitivity and make that the grounds of litigation.

How different this is to the practical message of the New Testament. The Christian faith is one where wrongs are to be endured, where extra clothing is to be offered to those who would take our coat, where the face is to be turned rather than the fist raised when confronted with violence, and where joy is to be found when all the world turns against us because of Christ. How I need to guard my heart from the temptation to self pity, to assume victim status when assailed by the more difficult providences of life. How I need to count it all joy, rather than counting on compensation, when faced with various trials.

That’s not to say that if anyone calls me a ‘slap head’ in the next few days I won’t quote 2Kings 3:23-25 at them!!

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