I suppose the Ashers Bakery debacle has exposed something.It has shown that there are many out there who do not actually understand the law; why it is actually needed in this form and the very idea of what “equality” actually means and is. This case has finally laid it on the line .
The First Minister Peter Robinson also needs to search his own mind and ask himself how he squares his declaration that the Equality Commission was “bonkers” for fighting this case , when the law has come down on the opposite side of the argument . That simply means he was entirely wrong in his judgement. Far from this being an attack on anyone ‘s rights or religion , it has proven to protect every citizen from the more outre versions of some of these religious and possibly political beliefs. There is is some very tunnelled -visioned thinking going on here. Equality is above religion and politics .That’s the way it has to be otherwise the very concept would be open to abuse.As it was in this case.
There was no problem with this family business in any other way . It baked good enough cakes but it discriminated against certain individuals for religious reasons.They were apparently gracious enough in their discrimination. In other words , if you are stout of heart, believe in a god and discriminate with a smile on your lips, that should be perfectly fine . It wasn’t.
Equality is also for those who do not believe in god . It is not a special club for a variety of faiths and beliefs.Faiths and beliefs are personal dreams and hopes outside of secular society and that is as it should be.
By the sound of the young man from the bakery , interviewed outside the courtroom after the final decision , he has has learned nothing from his experience in court .Apparently he has no idea that he has done anything wrong. I’m sure the whole equality concept was laboriously explained to him in great detail during this case and he would have been privy to some expert counselling and education …and yet, he didn’t understand even a tiny little bit of it.That’s like a child not knowing any better , reaching the age of reason and using it as a defence. Either you learn by your mistakes or you continue to keep on making those same mistakes. If you keep making them , then it is possible you are not making a mistake at all but are actually flaunting the law which you know full well. There is very little morality in that. That is simple blind belief or crookedness.
There is emotive talk of this case being a divisive one in our society.Well, think about that one .The division is between those who want fairness across the board and those who wish to be “outlaws”..beyond the law and …”special cases”. Well , we could each one of us , make a special case for ourselves, depending on how imaginitive, we each, are.
It would be the case that there’d be special clauses for each one of us and laws would be unworkable. .It should finally teach those who have not yet realised the simple fact that equlity means just that . Everyone is entitled to the same treatment within the law , no matter their personal, political, or religious preferences.
If that was the case people would be on the streets demanding the closure of businesses who did not comply with every little “special” regulation put in place .There is barely a day that goes by that doesn’t see some business closing its doors for flaunting health and safety laws or not having the financial wherewithal to upgrade their standards in compliance. My uncle ran a bakery and had to constantly upgrade until steel covered the walls.It was one of the factors that finally made him throw in the towel and close shop.He would have sold his pastries to anyone no matter their preference.
All the Ashers have to do is to discontinue the particular slogan -decorating service if they feel that they cannot comply with its outworkings, but they may have a preference to tilt at the windmill of the law instead and some very anti-equality political bed-fellows on the far-right could well be already pushing them up that Deadend Street.People will go to other businesses whose religious beliefs do not impinge on the civic law.Obviously , this case has been such a high -profile affair that they will gain many supporters but it will also drive away liberal-minded people in their droves. In that sense there will be division , for sure, especially if there is a competing bakery which can bake cakes of similar quality and without the additional nonsense. .
Why should the Ashers Bakery or any other business be treated any differently? It is they who are at fault and not the law , if they could only open their eyes to see that simple fact.