The right to be a shit is under threat!

A ‘relationship counsellor’ was fired after (and for? the Telegraph is cagy) refusing to give sex advice to homosexual couples. Therefore, the former archbish of Canterbury George Carey says, laws banning discrimination have ‘taken precedence over religious freedoms.’ Well, yes, if you like to put it that way. By the same token, if you choose to believe that the bible both mandates and allows slavery, and that that translates to people of your particular race being allowed to enslave people not of your race, and you act, or attempt to act, accordingly, then yes, your ‘religious freedom’ will be curtailed to that extent. Laws against discrimination in the form of enslavement by race or other category do indeed take precedence over the freedom to enslave by race or other category. You know what? That is too god damn bad.

The complaint is fundamentally stupid, because no freedom is without limits. Freedoms and rights come with various implicit stipulations in the background – within reason; other things being equal; of course not to the point of harming other people; and so on. The former archbish might as well complain that laws banning murder have taken precedence over religious freedoms to execute blasphemers and infidels. He wouldn’t say that, because it is no longer the done thing in his part of the world to execute infidels, or even to enliven the Telegraph with wishful thinking about executing infidels. But it is still the done thing in his particular fetid corner of his part of the world to hinder and reject and refuse service to gays, and he is too blinkered and ungenerous to realize that that too is a parochial bit of small-minded nastiness that is just as temporary as the old practice of executing infidels. He is too lost and empty to realize that in a few decades at most his desire to defend the persecution of gay people will look just as tyrannical and demented as a desire to defend infidel-murder would look now.

Lord Carey, in his written statement, said that recent decisions by the courts were “but a short step from the dismissal of a sincere Christian from employment to a religious bar to any employment for Christians”…They claim that the ruling [in the Lilian Ladele case] meant that the right to express the Christian faith must take second place to the rights of homosexuals.

That’s right, and a good thing too. The ‘right’ to ‘express the Christian faith’ by refusing service to gay people must indeed take second place to the rights of homosexuals not to be treated as automatic inferiors and pariahs. I hope the asymmetry is obvious enough? On the one hand a putative ‘right’ to treat other people badly, on the other hand a right not to be treated badly. Are we clear about this? My right to treat you badly always takes second place to your right not to be treated badly. In other words, the ‘right’ to treat people badly is not a right at all. To claim that it is, is an abuse of the language of rights (in that it resembles the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which makes all rights subordinate to ‘what sharia allows’).

The fact that boffins from a supposedly ‘moderate’ church like the Anglican one are running around squalling about the end of their ‘right’ to persecute people is enough to show that Dawkins really isn’t all that wrong about ‘moderate’ religion.

39 Responses to “The right to be a shit is under threat!”