Justice

The Ashers ruling is a threat to freedom

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In May 2014, an LGBT activist Gareth Lee requested a cake with the slogan ‘Support gay marriage’ from Ashers Bakery. This contradicted the Bakery’s deeply held Christian beliefs, and they politely refused after two days of contemplation. As it transpires, Mr Lee was unhappy with this response.

In fact, Mr Lee was so unhappy with this response that he proceeded to bully this private business through the courts. This culminated on Monday when the bakery lost its appeal against the 2015 ruling that they had acted discriminatory. Lee said that their refusal to bake him a cake made him “feel like a lesser person”, which is a strange reaction to one company saying that they won’t make you a cake because they disagree with its message.

To refuse to bake a cake when you have a career as a baker is ridiculous. There wasn’t a secret eleventh commandment that declared “Thou shall not bake a cake if you disagree with its message” and making the cake wouldn’t kill anybody (unless you’re a particularly bad baker.) These people need to decide whether they’re running a business or a Church, and begin to act accordingly.

If you agree with that, you have the freedom to say it. However, we only have this freedom to express this view because they have the freedom to disagree with us. These things are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other. The society seems to be forgetting this, favouring instead the view that some people are more special than others. In actual fact, the judge said in his ruling that “This was a case of association with the gay and bisexual community and the protected personal characteristic was the sexual orientation of that community.” Should being ginger also be a protected personal characteristic? How about having blue eyes?

In my first article for this website, I associated the concept of hate crime with the rise of identity politics, and argued for the abolition of the legal definition of hate crimes. It is very clear that what happened on Monday really was an example of identity politics on steroids, an exercising of the view that ‘my opinion is more important than yours and you will agree…or else.’

There is a serious disconnect here between people today who are spending extraordinary amounts of money in order to curb the freedom of others and their spiritual forefathers who had to fight for their freedom. The bitter irony of this ruling is that a gay bakery must now make a cake with the slogan “Homosexuality is sinful”, bringing us full circle back to the days when the censors ruled supreme.

For a long time, freedom was just an abstract concept for the majority of people. It was hard fought for, with people dying in order to procure it for future generations, and it is too precious to be lectured away by petty arguments over cake. Unless we get over ourselves, and eradicate our obsession with collecting various identities, we risk returning to having no meaningful freedom at all.  

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