O'Doherty: Let them eat cake? Equality doesn't mean fair
If there's one thing we can all surely agree on, then it is a shared loathing of bullies. I don't mean someone being unpleasant to you on Twitter, I'm referring to the good, old-fashioned type of bullying where someone forces a person to do something they are not comfortable doing.
Is there any word which better fits the ludicrous court action taken against Ashers bakery by gay 'rights' group, Queerspace?
As you undoubtedly know by now, the bakery walked into a world of legal trouble when they refused to decorate a cake with a picture of Bert and Ernie and the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage.'
It's important to note that they didn't refuse to sell a cake to someone because they were gay. They were happy to sell the activist any cake he desired, they just weren't prepared to decorate the cake with a message that went against their faith.
This is where logic meets emotion and, as always happens, the results are a toxic combination of malice, stupidity and teeth-grindingly insincere claims of victimhood.
The activist who brought the case, Gareth Lee, claimed that: "I expressed disbelief. I couldn't believe it was happening. This is Northern Ireland. This shouldn't happen... I felt like a lesser person."
Now, using Northern Ireland as a barometer of common sense and reason is a sticky wicket at the best of times but I was particularly tickled by his whine that: "I felt like a lesser person."
Well, if that really is the case - and, who are we to doubt him? - then I would politely suggest that anyone who allows themselves to 'feel like a lesser person' because of a cake is obviously such a precious little snowflake that they shouldn't leave their house unaccompanied by an adult. They certainly shouldn't be dipping their dainty toe into the febrile world of identity politics.
Of course, in much the same way that black bigots say they can't be racist because they are an oppressed minority, gay activists seem to think that they can't ever be bullies - because they are usually the ones on the receiving end.
That's a completely false logic, of course, and one which spits in the face of common sense. After all, if everyone's equal, then everyone can be a jerk. And boy, have the activists behind this case been absolute jerks.
As it happens, I disagree with the bakery's views. Indeed, as someone who looks on religion with contempt, I'm instinctively inclined to side against open religiosity.
But this isn't about religion, nor is it about anyone's views on gay rights (or wrongs). Instead, it is about a bunch of Social Justice Warriors deciding to make trouble for people simply because they don't share the same views. A shop won't decorate your cake with a contentious political slogan? Go somewhere else. It really is quite simple and is, in fact, the reasonable thing to do.
Of course, doing the reasonable thing isn't enough for these people. No, they decided to hound and hassle a shop that is guilty of the secular sin of not agreeing with their agenda.
But here's the thing - people are entitled to hold their own views and they should be allowed to follow their own beliefs as long as they're not harming anyone else. And despite what Gareth The Delicate might feel, they weren't causing him any harm.
The gay lobby are right to argue for respect. But respect is a two-way street grounded in the principle of live-and-let-live.
The posturing bullies of Queerspace may feel they have achieved something. Maybe they feel they've struck a blow for gay liberation.
But all they've done is alienate those of us who, regardless of what the law says, still know a cynical shakedown when we see one.
I have to admit, I was never hip to dib, dib, dib.In other words, I went to one scout meeting when I was a kid and decided it wasn't for me. After all, what boy wants to spend their school week stuck in a uniform only to swap it for another one at the weekend?
Also, if I'm honest, I've never been much of a joiner - and sitting around a campfire singing songs should only ever be done by teenagers in a horror movie before they are brutally slaughtered by some passing maniac.
But I understand and respect the lessons some of my mates learned during their years in the scouts and the idea of teaching young men self sufficiency, courtesy and team work is probably more important now than ever before.
The Boys Scouts of America have continued the wussification of men with their latest edict - kids are no longer allowed to have fun with water pistols: "Because pointing a gun at someone is mean."
That in itself seems almost reliably ridiculous given our current climate but a quick perusal of banned boy scouts items includes: "Cannons, spears, spear guns and rockets."
Red-blooded young men are no longer allowed to bring cannons, spear guns or rockets to scout meetings?
It's political correctness gone mad!