In what has become Britain's equivalent of our own country's struggle over segregated lunch counters half a century ago, the case of Peter and Hazelmary Bull has been working its way through the British court system for some time now. The Bulls are Christians and owners of a bed-and-breakfast guesthouse in the southwestern county of Cornwall. In 2008, they refused to allow a gay couple to rent a double room in their establishment, citing their religion's taboo on homosexuality. In defending against the resulting lawsuit, they argued that because their prejudice was based on religion, they should be exempt from the laws against discrimination which apply to other businesses. Bizarrely, they even argued that they were the victims of discrimination because the law denied their right to discriminate.
This Orwellian argument has now been rejected by the highest court in the country. Discrimination based on religious taboos is no more legitimate than discrimination based on anything else -- and is no more exempt from the law.
Let there be no confusion about what was at stake. Just like those segregated lunch counters, the mentality at work here seeks to stigmatize a category of people as inferior and unfit to be dealt with on an equal basis, even in mundane business transactions. It's a cruel and ugly mentality, the mentality of the bully, and it explicitly justifies itself by religion. British blogger Rosa Rubicondior has an excellent commentary on the decision.
The other news item comes from London, where three Muslim men formed a self-designated "Muslim patrol" and roved through districts in the eastern part of the city harassing people they deemed out of compliance with Islamic taboos. These included a couple holding hands, men who were drinking alcohol, and a woman whose clothing did not meet Sharî'ah standards. Their actions against these innocent people included yelling abuse at them through a megaphone, blocking their path with a car, and in the case of the men drinking alcohol, violently assualting them (one man was knocked unconscious).
In the past, the British establishment has been accused of treating Islamist thugs with kid gloves in deference to "diversity" or political correctness. No longer. Two days ago the three were given jail sentences ranging from 24 to 68 weeks. It's a warning that religion is no excuse for harassment and that a secular society will no longer tolerate it.
The message to the Abrahamic faiths is clear -- your jackboot is off our neck. Your centuries-long brutal and destructive rule over our civilizations is finished. You can't impose your ugly and insane taboos on us any more. We are the boss now.