Saturday, 11 February 2012

The march of the religiophobes and the death of British liberty

Item the first: the Derby Three have been sentenced. It's chokey all round, fifteen months apiece for two of them, two years for the third. Two years for distributing leaflets expressing his sincerely held beliefs! Here's a random sample of what you can do and get half of that.

Does Judge John Burgess have a sense of irony?
"Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy and a basic ingredient of any free society.

"Parliament clearly had this very much in mind when this legislation was passed."
Or is he just an obedient functionary who has long since internalized the principle that freedom means whatever his masters want it to mean?

Meanwhile Ben Summerskill of Stonewall crows at my expense (see p. 14 - another "charity" that accepts state funding worth several hundred thousand pounds a year whilst simultaneously spending its cash on lobbying legislators).

Item the second: up pops Mr Summerskill again, still crowing at my expense. For the Appeal Court has ruled that if you run a business, even if it is just having people sleep and eat in your own home, you have no right to allow your conscience to inform the terms on which you do business.

In a free society, the options open to Messrs Preddy and Hall would be absolutely straightforward: accept the offer of two single beds or go elsewhere. Not liking the Bulls' attitude, but then we're all different, aren't we, and after all it's their business and their home. But in increasingly unfree Britain the Bulls offend against the civic religion of diversity... by daring to be different.

If Stonewall is indirectly an arm of the state, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is directly so. That did not stop it from backing Messrs Preddy and Hall. For in post-liberal Britain it is nothing out of the ordinary for the state to take sides in litigation between private individuals. The state decided what verdict it wanted and the judges duly delivered. I can hardly believe I've felt moved to write that about my country.

The Bulls had to make do with the Christian Institute, which is considerably poorer than Stonewall (never mind the EHRC) and predictably so since it evidently enjoys no state funding.

And, whilst it natually doesn't compare with a two-year prison sentence, £3,600 is a hefty penalty for putting a couple to the trouble of re-booking their holiday accommodation. If you're running a small B & B you can't afford to take that kind of hit too often (whose interest would it serve, by the way, if the Bulls were forced to shut up shop and throw themselves on the mercy of the state?). Again I refer you to Julia M's blog, where she chronicles on a daily basis how people do appalling, despicable things and get off with far lighter penalties than the one inflicted on this utterly harmless, decent and principled couple.

But perhaps in both cases that is the point. For the state and the post-liberal establishment, people with principles are far more threatening than mere scumbags, so must have a correspondingly hefty stick waved at them. The luminaries of the Spanish Inquisition would have understood perfectly.

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