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Stuff your hypotheticals. The discrimination I experience is real.

May 21, 2015


It’s amazing how discrimination always becomes hypothetical to people who, on the whole, haven’t experienced it. Rich, straight, white guys telling the world their future notional freedom has been somehow curtailed by a decision against a baker in County Antrim.

These have all been posed to me today:

“Suppose someone walked into my bakery and asked for a cake with the message ‘legalise slavery’ on it.”

“What if I were a baker and someone asked me to ice a cake with a pro-life message?”

“What if I were a Jewish baker, asked to write a neonazi message?”

“A Christian walks into a Muslim sign writer’s shop and orders a placard. He says it should carry a cartoon of the prophet and the slogan Muslims Go Home.”

Only none of those things happened. Here is what did happen: a gay guy walked into a bakery – a bakery not a church – and asked for a cake with a message on it, something this bakery did for hundreds of people every year. He was told to take his business elsewhere, because the owner found gay marriage offensive. As clear a case of discrimination as you are likely to see.

The judge has not mandated that the baker find gay marriage any less offensive, of course. The court has not injuncted the baker to make the cake. It has just fined him for discriminating against his customers. That’s all. His “moral objection” will cost him £500, because it was found to be discriminatory and, so, unlawful. If a neonazi sues a Jewish bakery any time soon, a judge can deal with that situation sensibly, just like a judge dealt with this one.

“Actually, same sex marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland, so the law supports the baker’s position”, said one genius to me. Only the baker wasn’t asked to marry a man. He was asked to ice a cake. Even in Northern Ireland, that is still legal.

Apparently acting against this kind of behaviour, which gay people experience on a regular basis, is aggressively pursuing some kind of homosexual agenda. We are supposed to just brush it off, just go to another bakery and not cause a fuss. And why? Because to act against this bigotry, might prejudice a bunch of fictitious people facing situations which you made up.

And to compound it all, you pursue these arguments by suggesting some sort of moral equivalence between being gay and being a fan of slavery, an islamophobe, a pro-lifer or a neonazi. Which is not that far away, frankly, from people arguing against marriage equality with “What is next? Brothers marrying sisters? Men marrying dogs?”

So, no, I’m not going to another bakery. You advertised a service. I employed you to provide it, not to edit my life. Your beliefs do not entitle you to some sort of Magical Christian Immunity from the law. Do your fucking job.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2015 1:05 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. May 21, 2015 1:15 pm

    And the moment you are obliged to print on a cake a message that is the polar opposite to what you believe, with the threat that you’ll be prosecuted if you don’t print it, you’ve taken the first step towards succumbing to dictatorship.

    • May 21, 2015 1:52 pm

      Yes. So many of the bad ones have started with cake.

      • whirlwitch permalink
        May 28, 2015 12:51 am

        Cake or death?

    • Luke Thomas permalink
      May 21, 2015 2:37 pm

      The essential point is that the bakery is a *business*. The legal judgement was that the baker wasn’t allowed to withhold a service on the basis of sexuality – like they’re not allowed to do so on the basis of age or gender. Imagine if the baker had declined to ice a cake for a 90 year old because they strongly held the religious conviction that man’s allotted span of time on earth was three score years and ten, and that medical advances were ‘playing god’?

      If the baker isn’t comfortable with discrimination laws as they pertain to business practices, then they are welcome to withhold the service for *everyone*, or stop running a business entirely. They aren’t being coerced into icing cakes against their will, but they DO have to operate in accordance with the law, much as they have to file tax-returns, pay their staff a minimum wage or comply with Health and Safety regulations. If they decide all of these legal requirements are too onerous, or go against some strongly held conviction, then they are welcome to cease trading.

    • Steven permalink
      May 21, 2015 3:10 pm

      What are you talking about? This isn’t the first of many, the opening of the floodgates or any other sign that the world is about to collapse. You already ARE required to print a message that might be the polar opposite to your belief- that’s what being in business and offering a service to everyone means.

  3. Rose permalink
    May 21, 2015 2:08 pm

    Go Alex! So sordid to be still arguing the case for equality. X

  4. May 21, 2015 4:16 pm

    Spot on, Alex…and Luke…and Steven.

  5. May 21, 2015 6:29 pm

    You may run a business and still refuse to provide a service, firmly and politely.
    If people did not want my money, I would go elsewhere.
    End of matter.

  6. May 21, 2015 11:18 pm

    Brilliant article thank you 🙂

  7. Kevin the Minion permalink
    May 22, 2015 8:57 am

    Slight problem with the hypothesis when it comes to the Neonazi in the Jewish Bakers or the Christian in the Muslim baker in that it would be the customer breaking the law and not the Baker as they would be attempting to to insight racial and religious hatred which is, without any shadow of anyones doubt, against the law

  8. Kevin the Minion permalink
    May 22, 2015 9:35 am

    And anyway, Britain is officially a Homophobic Nation and has a law to prove it, The Gay Marriage act 2014 where it was legislated that gay marriages could take place at any registered venue and in any church at the consent of the vicar/priest (knowing full well that no Catholic Priest is EVER going to consent to performing a gay marriage) EXCEPT in a CofE church where it isn’t legal, so the Queen has signed off on a law, passed by the Government that represents her that says “I am a homophobe and here is a law that proves it because I won’t allow gay marriage in the church that I am head of” so why anyone is surprised that there is still a huge degree of homophobia running through the country is completely beyond me

    • May permalink
      May 22, 2015 10:24 am

      I’m pretty angry about that piece of legislation, as a gay Anglican who would quite like to be able to get married in her own church but presently can’t, but I think you’re taking a skewed view of the history here – that clause was included as a compromise to the objections of the (very powerful) C of E element in Parliament, in order to ensure that the legislation passed at all. The objections were related to the complex situation caused by the Church of England being the head of the Anglican communion, which includes countries which are far more extremely homophobic than Britain has ever been (like Nigeria).

      Now I have no objection to criticising the fact that we have bishops in Parliament who are allowed to let the bigotry of people thousands of miles away affect law-making in the UK, or that the powerful elements of the C of E are themselves reluctant to extend God’s love to anyone who doesn’t look and behave just like them, but the equal marriage legislation was a huge step in the right direction. Britain is not a homophobic nation. There’s a lot of homophobia around, sure, but an officially homophobic nation is one where people get stoned to death for being gay, not one where the law extends specific protection against the sort of discrimination this case involved.

  9. Nick Simon permalink
    May 29, 2015 7:26 pm

    So here’s a thing that did happen: US states wanted to buy drugs to use for lethal injections and the suppliers said no. Should we force them to supply those drugs? Homophobia is pretty stinky but if you force people to do stuff that’s against their beliefs, however mistaken those beliefs may be, you may find the situation turned against you.
    And yes, I’m a straight white guy but that doesn’t mean I’m irrelevant.

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