Your beliefs are silly but mine aren’t. Ner ner ner-ner ner.
I’ve written previously about the hopelessly confused and incoherent Telegraph blogger Cristina Odone.
As readers will recall, in response to the brutal “honour” killing of the Bradford schoolgirl Shafilea Ahmed by Ahmed’s own parents, Odone suggested a solution to these problems might be more Muslim faith schools. I remarked that such faith schools are highly likely to increase the suffocating isolation that girls in Shafilea’s desperate position already find themselves trapped in.
Odone’s brainwave of treating marginalisation with more marginalisation also had an unpleasant stench of blaming the murder victim: if only Shafilea had been a docile, obedient little Muslim girl, diligently studying the Koran in a locked madrassa, then perhaps she might not have succumbed to intoxicating and hedonistic infidel pursuits such as the shameful quest for personal freedom and the selfish desire to select her own partner rather than outsource that decision to her parents, and maybe she’d still be breathing today. Who the hell did Shafilea think she was? A white girl living in a western liberal democracy?
The crux of the Mail’s bile was this: legal rights that Christians have are also available to non-Christians such as Druids, vegans or Greens, which is therefore an “insult to Christians”. Scandalous, obviously: what is the country coming to when all its citizens have identical rights? For a first-class, surgical dissection of the ridiculous Mail piece, see this post from Darren Newman.
“In other words, the tenets of Druids, vegans and greens are on a par with those of Christianity and the world religions.”
That’s right. The law treats all beliefs equally – by not making a judgment on the actual beliefs themselves. The law cannot and must not make a judgment on the quality of beliefs. The sole concern of the law is ensuring human beings don’t suffer discrimination for holding those beliefs and that any manifestation of those beliefs doesn’t infringe the lawful rights of other human beings.
Odone goes on to say of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, the organization whose guidance for employers triggered the Mail story:
“[The] EHRC…will now be obliged to extend its special pleading to Jedi warriors and other joke “religions”. What a nightmare for employers this will turn out to be.”
To me, all religions are a joke (some are deadly funny), but that’s not the point. The point is: that doesn’t stop me from advocating identical legal rights for their followers and non-followers alike – something which Odone is clearly unwilling to do.
As for the “nightmare for employers” which Odone prophesizes, I simply ask some questions. Who is generally causing this nightmare for employers? Who is generally bringing cases to the courts pleading special legal treatment? Who is generally complaining ad infinitum in the pages and webpages of the Daily Malice and Daily Theocraph about a loss of historic privilege and the arrival in its place of an increasingly humane and level playing-field? Druids, Jedis, and followers of other “joke” religions? Or followers of Christianity and “the world religions”?
Odone has written previously of how she is “outraged” by the blatant discrimination against Catholics that is legally woven into our constitutional tapestry, as Catholics are forbidden from being the head of state (and until recently the head of state wasn’t even allowed to marry a Catholic).
I share completely Odone’s outrage at these indefensible theocratic stains on our precious democracy, and I would gladly stand shoulder to shoulder with her in extinguishing fully all genuine forms of religious discrimination such as this.
So come on, Cristina (may I call you Cristina?), how about we both campaign for disestablishment of the Church of England? Or perhaps, on balance, you can live quite happily with deeply embedded constitutional discrimination against Catholics in exchange for the bountiful privileges that having an official state religion brings you, and perhaps you would rather expend your efforts arguing that Druids, vegans and Greens should have fewer rights than followers of “world religions”?
Now that really is a joke.