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Forced speech

The Times reports (paywalled):

Christian bakery guilty of discrimination over ‘gay cake’

A bakery whose Christian owners refused to make a cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan has been found guilty of discrimination after a landmark legal action.

Ashers Baking Company discriminated against Gareth Lee when it refused to create the cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie, with a slogan “Support Gay Marriage”, a judge has found.

Ruling in the case that has split public opinion in Northern Ireland, Isobel Brownlie, the district judge, said: “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination.”

So, you can be forced to say “Support Gay Marriage”, on the grounds that if you don’t say it someone will be left feeling “like a lesser person”, to quote Mr Lee, the plaintiff in this case.

How might this principle be extended?

Added later: in answer to my own question, a scenario:

Following the Labour victory in the closely-fought election of 2020, the new prime minister made good on the pledge made to the Muslims who had formed such a reliable part of the winning “coalition of the oppressed”. (In fact the promise to outlaw Islamaphobia had first been made by Ed Miliband back in 2015.) The relevant amendments to the Equality Act 2010 having been made, it seemed a natural next step for many Muslims to press for the UK to follow the example of several Canadian cities and give legal weight to the verdicts of the existing informal network of Sharia tribunals to which Muslims could choose to bring civil cases as an alternative to the regular channels of English or Scottish Law. It was as part of the campaign for this that the plaintiff, Mr A, approached the Rainbow Baking Company, run as a family business by the defendants Mr B & Mr C. The judge ruled that “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of religious discrimination” when they refused to bake a cake bearing the message “SUPPORT SHARIA LAW”.

As it happens I am not in principle opposed to parallel systems of arbitration running in parallel to the ordinary law, so long as they are strictly voluntary. But my imaginary gay bakers might well profoundly object to being obliged to make a cake bearing that slogan. However by then the precedent that they can be forced to by law will have been set.

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53 comments to Forced speech

  • Cesare

    The wages of permanent victim-hood apparently are open ended demands always more hysterically stated. What free range imbecile in modern times could not find a gay friendly bakery, or perhaps even harder to imagine or locate a gay florist? This ceased to be about discrimination or tolerance a long time ago, this is about endorsement and rather enthusiastic endorsement at that.

  • Paul Marks

    This is what it, the “Equality Agenda”, was always about.

    It is about the destruction of liberty – the end of Freedom of Association, which must logically include the freedom NOT to associate.

    It is also about the destruction of traditional society – leaving only atomised individuals and THE STATE.

    It was about this from the start – and it was obvious that it was about this from the start.

    Those libertarians who were taken in by the blatant lies (“we just want our ceremonies – we are not going to force them on anyone else”) were incredibly stupid.

    Marriage and the family are dying – the collectivist Cultural Revolution that became obvious in the 1960s is doing its evil work.

    And we are supposed to believe that a new group of people suddenly wanted to “get married”, and that there was no political agenda behind it all?

    It was idiotic to fall for such an obvious ruse.

    In-case-someone-misunderstands-me.

    I have no objection to private ceremonies, and no objection to a group of friends calling two men husband and wife.

    It is the GOVERNMENT element (the legal “recognising” and forcing everyone else to “recognise”) that was the obvious trick.

    And let us remember this individual case – this is SLAVERY.

    Forcing people to create political slogan they do not wish to create.

    They would not be forced to create the political slogans “Kick out the blacks” – because that is not a political doctrine the “liberal” elite support.

    But they are forced (enslaved) to create the political slogan “Support Gay Marriage” – because the establishment elite support that political slogan.

    That is where “anti discrimination” doctrine – and that is where it was always MEANT to lead.

    Slavery.

    The logical, and intended, objective of the “Equality Agenda”.

  • So it is time yet to start going to all the gay bakers and ordering “GOD HATES FAGS” cakes for the Westboro Baptist folks? Maybe some “SIEG HEIL” cakes on April 20 from the Jewish bakers?

  • Paul Marks

    Phelps – the establishment elite do not approve of those political slogans, so they will not be required.

    Indeed them may well be forbidden.

    The “Equality Agenda” is actually nothing much to do with equal-treatment-before-the-law (the KKK and so on will find they have no rights).

    The “Equality Agenda” is just disguised Frankfurt School Marxism (“Political Correctness” or “Critical Theory”) – and it is not even really disguised.

    Again I am astonished by how many people were deceived by this movement.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Following the Labour victory in the closely-fought election of 2020, the new prime minister made good on the pledge made to the Muslims who had formed such a reliable part of the winning “coalition of the oppressed”. (In fact the promise to outlaw Islamaphobia had first been made by Ed Miliband back in 2015.) The relevant amendments to the Equality Act 2010 having been made, it seemed a natural next step for many Muslims to follow the example of several Canadian cities and give legal weight to the verdicts of the existing informal network of Sharia tribunals to which Muslims could choose to bring civil cases as an alternative to the regular channels of English or Scottish Law. It was as part of the campaign for this that the plaintiff, Mr A, approached the Rainbow Baking Company, run as a family business by the defendants Mr B & Mr C. The judge ruled that “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of religious discrimination” when they refused to bake a cake bearing the message “SUPPORT SHARIA LAW”.

    As it happens I am not in principle opposed to parallel systems of arbitration running in parallel to the ordinary law, so long as they are strictly voluntary. But my imaginary gay bakers might well profoundly object to being obliged to make a cake bearing that slogan.

    [I’ve upgraded this comment to the main post.]

  • John Mann

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that Ashers was basically found guilty because they objected to the (political) message on the cake. This seems ridiculous to me, and a very far cry from a business in the American South 50 years ago refusing to serve someone on the grounds of their race.

    I think that Paul Marks is undoubtedly correct in saying that Ashers would not have been found guilty if the political message had been something seriously politically incorrect. Indeed, had someone ordered a cake with one of the messages that Phelps suggests, and Ashers had reported the customer to the authorities, I think that there is a good chance that the customer would have received a visit from the police. Who knows what would have happened if Ashers had declined to bake a cake that said “Vote Conservative” or “Vote Labour”. Or what if Ashers had declined to bake a cake that said “Vote SDLP”?

    But of course, the issue here is discrimination against gay people.

    And that is where the judgement gets really strange.

    Judge Brownlie is quoted as saying that the McArthur family held “genuine deeply held religious beliefs” but said that they must have been aware that Mr Lee was gay and were aware of the ongoing same sex marriage debate because of the graphics he had supplied. She said: “As much as I acknowledge their religious beliefs this is a business to provide service to all. The law says they must do that.””

    However, it seems fairly clear that Ashers strongly dispute what the judge is saying:

    Ashers stated “”We’ve said from the start that our issue was with the message on the cake, not with the customer and that we didn’t know what the sexual orientation of Mr Lee was, and it wasn’t relevant either. We’ve always been happy to serve any customers who come into our shops.”

    Am I missing something here?

  • pete

    The hypothetical gay bakers/Sharia law cake case would never come to court.

    Any judgement would be politically incorrect so the matter would be allowed to fizzle out, and the chance of a state quango like the equal opportunities lot taking it up would be zero.

  • Greytop

    “Judge Finds Religion To Be Wrong,” the headline to this could say. If so, I can think of several religions that would take a quite opposite view to that of the learned gentleman and declare they have a very definite view of what is wrong or right. More, I can think of one religion in particular that would be very, very angry indeed to be told that their “deeply held religious beliefs” are in error.

    I await that trial outcome with interest.

  • Time for bakers to forget which granulated white substance is the sugar and which is the salt. I imagine it wouldn’t take too many salty wedding cakes for people to just go to another baker when their bakery of choice doesn’t wish to do business with them.

    Coercion is always a bad idea, if only for the bad feeling and opportunity for petty retribution that it engenders.

  • RAB

    This was not Equality or Justice, it was a stitch up, by a gay activist. Just as the case of the B&B Christian owners was. The Law has been used as an instrument of oppression, not Freedom. And the smug little bastards are laughing about it, all the way to the bank.

  • Niall Kilmartin

    I fear this points to the next step for the hate speech laws, coming a decade or so after the first. Previously forbidden to say whatever the politically correct dislike, we will now be forced actually to say whatever they do like. Unlike an earlier commenter, I think there is no chance of that judge ruling that an order for a cake with “God hates fags” is even legal, let alone compulsory. I doubt there’s that much chance of being allowed to order a cake saying “A full philosophical analysis of homosexuality would include discussing some less fashionable viewpoints in a calm manner”, but it might take another decade before that one becomes overtly illegal. As Natalie notes, the internal contradictions of PC may unintentionally preserve the freedom to choose your poison in a distressingly literal sense; expressions of islamophiliia will be allowed.

    You have to laugh in order not to cry.

  • Mr Ed

    The actual legal point was a failure to provide goods and services to an individual on the grounds of their sexual orientation and political opinion, both of which are actionable in Northern Ireland law. The bakery was not a religious establishment, so it had no scope to argue that the provisions protecting churches etc. would apply.

    No one asked if the request for a political message on a cake was of itself an act of harassment against someone because they were Christian, even if it was, on its face, a lawful request. That would open another can of worms.

  • staghounds

    So if Mr. Lee had been a non-gay man, they could have refused to bake the cake? Interesting.

    Also interesting that inferences about people’s “gender” are mandatory based upon their message choices.

    It appears that, as a matter of Law, expressing the thought “Support Gay Marriage” in Ireland makes me gay! Wait until I tell Father…

  • Mr Ed

    staghounds, unlikely, as he would not need to be ‘gay’ to win a claim, as a perception that he is gay or an association with a gay lifestyle would suffice, and refusal of services on political grounds is unlawful, so the refusal of service to him on the basis of a political stance is unlawful.

    Do keep up. This is the modern world, they have been busy thinking about this, you know.

  • staghounds

    No wait, it’s NORTHERN Ireland, so this is British law! I’m Gay already!

  • Mr Ed

    And a few years ago, a male nurse got £750 compensation for being chaperoned whilst doing ECGs on female patients, in case he was alleged to have fondled the patient’s breasts. The Irish bloke got £500, so that’s a cake and a half, before inflation. The reason was that female nurses didn’t get chaperones putting in catheters, and the only reason he got chaperoned was in case he faced an accusation in a situation where a woman probably would not face an accusation so wouldn’t need a chaperone.

    http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2006/0085_06_2804.html

  • Mr Ed

    staghounds, not quite, Northern Irish law is different to Great Britain’s law, as fair employment (Community/religion etc.) is added on, and a lot of Great Britain legislation is applied to NI by Order-in-Council, Zzzzz…..

  • Chip

    If I leave my wife for another woman, and my now ex-wife is a baker, can I force her to bake me a wedding cake?

    If I’m a long-time volunteer for Greenpeace and professional photographer, and Exxon asks me to produce images for a magazine highlighting a new oil rig, can I refuse?

  • JohnW

    It would be difficult to over-exaggerate the wickedness of this judgment and the law on which it is based.

    When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown “influence” will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all — and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow “public policies,” integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun.

    Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves. Ayn Rand, “Vast Quicksands,” The Objectivist Newsletter, July 1963, p. 25.

  • Veryretired

    There are going to be some very astonished “equality warriors” when repeated cases like this, and others even more coercively in violation of peoples’ deeply held religious values, bring about a serious response by the evangelical Christian community, especially in the U.S.

    The entire political correctness movement relies on the tolerance and lawfulness of the very people it relentlessly criticizes, violates, and coerces with both social norms and these nefarious thought-crime rulings.

    It will be interesting to see whose left standing when the smoke clears…

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    George W Bush was recently asked, by a University Dean, “You believe in Free Speech, don’t you?”
    He replied, “Yes.”
    “Good, you can now give one.”

  • So… if I go to a halaal butchery, and demand to be served a pork product like sausage, they’d have to supply it to me even though it’s against their religion to handle the stuff?

    Hang on, I think I just saw a pig fly past the window.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Yeah, those police helicopters are everywhere, Kim. Just don’t duck like a criminal, and you might get out alive.

  • staghounds

    No, the excerpts suggest that the discrimination was ruled unlawful because it was done on the grounds of the plaintiff’s sexual orientation. I do not think- and I may be wrong- that the claim was based on the plaintiff’s political opinions being discriminated against.

    The Court had to make him gay in order to find that he was discriminated against because he was gay. Since there wasn’t any proof that the bakers knew he was gay, or that they said they thought he was gay, this characteristic had to be imputed to the plaintiff. Hence the Court “said that they must have been aware that Mr Lee was gay and were aware of the ongoing same sex marriage debate because of the graphics he had supplied.”

    Therefore, expression of support for gay marriage means that the courts will consider that you are gay for purposes of discrimination law in Northern Ireland.

    I’m assuming the anti discrimination laws are the same in N.I. as they are in the U.K. And in any case, I cannot imagine that her majesty permits discrimination against a class of her subjects in one dominion and prohibits it next door.

    Therefore and ergo, since I have, while in somerset, expressed my support for gay marriage, I am legally a homosexual in Great Britain.*

    But then, so are 749 members of the 2013 Parliament…

    *Only in the United Kingdom. My U. S. window treatments are still a crime against colour sense.

  • Mr Ed

    staghounds, the full judgement is available here.

    Look at paragraph 39, the judge made alternate findings of fact as to what the defendants knew or perceived.

    And then paragraph 54 onwards.

  • Dom

    Kim, the answer is that the butcher will refuse to sell pork to everyone, so there is no discrimination involved. He simply doesn’t sell pork. A better analogy is this: can a Muslim baker be forced to prepare a gay wedding cake? Since I believe all of this was a fishing expedition anyway, I think it is significant that a Christian baker and not a Muslim baker was chosen to prove a point.

  • Paul Marks

    Rocco – in the United States (as we both know) the Constitution has been corrupted and undermined.

    But the Constitution (including the First Amendment – and the State Constitutions also exist) still exists – and sometimes bites back.

    As Mr Ed points out – here there is no Constitution, the government can pass any “law” it feels like.

    This is the consequence of the Blackstone Heresy.

    The legal doctrine that there are no limits to the power of Parliament.

    A doctrine that horrified the Founders of the United States (and rightly so).

    And would also have horrified such “Old Whigs” as Chief Justice Sir John Holt.

  • Mr Ed

    As Mr Ed points out – here there is no Constitution, the government can pass any “law” it feels like.

    Not on this thread as it happens, but moreover, the government can, and must, implement any law that the EU directs, whether or not in conflict with an Act of Parliament, and Parliament must yield, e.g. Factortame.

  • pete

    Various councils refuse to hire rooms to the BNP and other political groups they don’t like.

    It’ll be interesting to see what this ruling means to such policies.

  • Mr Ed

    pete, that would be likely to be unlawful following Redfern v Serco, a BNP supporter in Bradford sacked for his political affiliation (not for goose-stepping at locals). The law in Great Britain prohibits dismissal of an employee on the basis of political affiliation, but not necessarily a manifestation of that opinion. e.g. Saying “I agree with Nick” should only get you sniggered at, or sympathy.

    However, arguing the Schleswig-Holstein question (unasked) in a meeting with your employer about your missed sales targets would probably be good grounds for sacking someone on capability or conduct grounds.

  • John B

    The issue here which seems to be overlooked by nearly everyone is property rights and slavery.

    We own ourselves and thus our labour. Being obliged to expend our labour in a particular way even if compensated, means no choice: that is slavery. On the plantation any who refused where flogged or worse, nowadays the State is used to punish.

    In this case, forcing the baker to expend their labour when they chose not too is abuse of their Rights.

    How is it that slavery can now be upheld in English law?

  • Mr Ed

    John B, It is not slavery, it is compensation (in the eyes of the law, I hasten to add) for a tort. The tort is to refuse to work for someone on unlawful discriminatory grounds, when one has set out one’s stall as being open to the world for business. The refusal to contract (or to continue to perform a contract) is a tort, there would also be a claim for breach of contract (the cost of getting another cake baked less a refund of any money paid), which is, of course, worthless.

    The tort is to cause injury to feelings of £500, which is roughly equivalent to the compensation for a black eye. Now, if one could stump up £500 in advance to give someone a black eye, that might be worthwhile for some, but Bill Gates could afford thump me every hour of the day for the rest of my life.

  • Mr Ed

    The other side of this, the suppression of speech, has at least suffered a set back in the UK, after a woman sought to suppress her ex-husband (a pianist) from publishing a book about sexual abuse that he had suffered as a child. Her reason, the child bomb, to protect their 12-year old son, who lives with her in the USA, from the risk of harm from his father recounting his experiences of abuse, the case being brought in the son’s name by first his mother then his godfather. Almost unbelievably, an injunction was granted by lower courts to prevent publication, but this was overturned by the UK’s Supreme Court.

    Here’s a key quote:

    The tort in question is that recognised in the case of Wilkinson v Downton [1897] 2 QB 57 and generally known as intentionally causing physical or psychological harm. What, then, is the proper scope of the tort in the modern law? In particular, can it ever be used to prevent a person from publishing true information about himself?

    This case was an extreme ‘trigger warning’ nonsense about harm being foreseeable.

  • Jake Haye

    Instead of refusing to bake the cake, could they not simply have set a price they considered compensatory?

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Jake Haye –

    Instead of refusing to bake the cake, could they not simply have set a price they considered compensatory?

    What, like saying, “OK, that’ll £7,000. When would you like it delivered?”

    That’s genius.

  • Ferox has it right: just fuck the job up on purpose. I wonder if they’ll be trying the same stunt on tattooists?

  • Darrell

    As I’ve said many a time, “Celebrate Diversity” has become “Celebrate Diversity, Or Else”.

  • Craig Hamilton

    Dean Martin once joked that he was leaving California after homosexual acts were legalized because he thought that soon they would become compulsory. If refusing to bake a cake is discriminatory, how is it not discriminatory to refuse a sexual invitation?

  • TimR

    Some years ago, a friend who had a small hotel handled a similar situation. A couple stayed one Saturday night and in the morning the woman paid the bill. Next week she was back with another man. The following morning my friend charged her double rate. She never returned.

  • Regional

    What would I be prosecuted with for ordering a cake embellished with ‘God loves fags’?

  • Mr Ed

    Technically, a gigolo or male escort who refused to escort or provide services to a man rather than a woman would fall foul of the discrimination laws on sexual orientation, and illegality or public policy of not enforcing immoral contracts is not a strict defence to a tort of causing injury to feelings, see paragraphs 43 -45.

    https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2012_0188_Judgment.pdf

  • Rob Fisher

    “Sorry guv, but the images of Bert and Ernie are owned by the Jim Henson Company.”

    “We ran out of eggs!”

    I know I am missing the point.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Regional, in this life, you’d get a pink medal. In the next life, you’d find out God’s opinion. Good luck with that!

  • Jim

    @Dom: “the answer is that the butcher will refuse to sell pork to everyone, so there is no discrimination involved”: how is that different to the case here? The baker refuses to bake ‘gay cakes’ for anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, purely on religious grounds, just as a Muslim butcher refuses to sell pork. If a baker cannot refuse to bake a certain type of cake, why can a butcher refuse to sell a certain type of meat? Indeed, after this ruling can a gay person go to a halal butcher and demand a leg of pork, and sue if not served?

  • Mr Ed

    Jim: The butcher does not sell pork to anyone, just as he doesn’t sell light bulbs. He is not refusing to serve a customer on the basis of religion (other than his own choice not to stock pork). He could not be required to sell pork if he does not sell pork. A better example would be a butcher refusing to sell halal meet to a non-Muslim customer, so as to keep it back for a Muslim customer.

    The baker refuses to bake ‘gay cakes’ for anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation

    The judge decided that the baker knew that the customer was gay and/or believed that he was, and that was the basis of the refusal, and also that the political campaign for gay marriage influenced the decision as being taken on political grounds.

    To me, it was the cake that the baker objected to, not the customer.

    The next thing will be someone ordering a Koran from a Christian bookshop and then if they refuse to order it, being sued.

  • staghounds

    Mr. Ed, thank you for the link. AS USUAL, the professional journalists got it wrong- the Court found that advocating gay marriage created an inference that the advocator was gay or associated with gay people. Damn, I wanted fashion sense!

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    The verdict is to be appealed and one can only hope, unlikely as it seems, that common sense will prevail the second time around.

  • Mr Ed

    Well here’s the latest pseudo-science, no doubt working towards brainwashing as policy, or perhaps to ensure that cake bakers learn.

    Sleep training ‘may reduce racism and sexism

  • […] most working people are free to visit travel agents? Good thing for you that the travel agents were not gay; your unprogressive religion would not have scored highly enough to trump them […]