Monday, December 23, 2013


There are threats of retaliation against British retailer Marks & Spencer for this new policy:
Furious M&S customers threatened to boycott the store last night for allowing Muslim checkout staff to refuse to serve customers who want to pay for alcohol or pork.

Managers at a London store told the workers they could ask any shoppers trying to buy the items to wait until a different till was available, it emerged yesterday.

One shopper said: 'I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available....

Customer Matt Syson wrote: ... 'My family and I shall no longer purchase any goods from your company due to the implementation of this “one rule system” that creates further division and hatred within our communities.' ...
But wait: it's utterly wrong for people who are offended by this policy to retaliate in a way that threatens Marks & Spencer's livelihood, isn't it? Haven't we just spent the last few days being told by conservatives that that sort of retaliation is fascism, because people have absolute freedom to offend you, while you have no right to respond?

Weren't we told that suspending a millionaire TV actor who said insulting things about gay, black, and Japanese people is "totalitarian" and comparable to the worst Soviet abuses? Haven't we been informed that going on social media to mock a racist tweet about AIDS from Justine Sacco, a high-level public relations executive (who's since been fired), amounts to an "online assassination"?

So a boycott of Marks & Spencer would be just as horrible ... wouldn't it, right-wingers?

Whoops! Guess not. Jihad Watch is incensed at M&S, not at the boycotters. So are the Freepers and the Lucianners.
I would tell this company to pound sand.


Me, I'd never be a customer there again.


I hope they lose all their non-Muzzie customers
I actually oppose M&S's policy myself -- I think it's best to employ people, of whatever faith, who are willing to do all of what a job requires. I wouldn't hire a devout Catholic who categorically opposes divorce for a law practice that does a lot of divorce work. I've said in the past that Muslim cabdrivers who won't drive people who've been drinking perhaps should be in some other line of work.

As for a response, I think if you don't like M&S's policy, you're perfectly free to take your business elsewhere (many of M&S's competitors are not following suit) -- but I'm also not upset at how GLAAD and A&E and a lot of other critics have responded to Phil Robertson. And given that that public relations person's job is, y'know, public relations, I'm not upset that she faced consequences either.

I feel this way about retaliation I disagree with. I thought the Dixie Chicks boycott was vicious and wrong, but it was within wingers' rights to do it. Same for any boycott of A&E now by the right. If your work primarily involves dealing with the public -- as is the case for M&S, Justine Sacco, and both Pil Robertson and A&E -- that's a risk.

Maybe some of the outrage should be dialed down a bit. But it's not fascism. And it's definitely not fascism only when the other side does it.


aimai said...

Absolutely. I think Marks and Spenser should hire workers who will serve anyone, and that people who don't like it should boycott them. And I think A and E should work with people who are not bigots and will serve/be fellow citizens with anyone--and people who don't like A and E's policy should boycott them. The Muslim woman shouldn't take a job in which she can't serve everyone in a legal and safe manner any more than a pharmacist should be a Christian Scientist. Its not pluralism to allow one person's religion to rule over someone else's experience of the public space/a corporate space. Its pluralism for each person to have their own religion and custom and keep it to themselves.

Victor said...

Conservative POV:
It's ALWAYS Fascism when you do it.

It's ALWAYS about freedom when we do it.

Victor said...

Oh, and yeah, that's a stupid store policy.

As a believer in, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, can I refuse to ring-up your macaroni and noodle purchases, because I think you're practicing a form of religious cannibalism?

"You cover my Deity with tomato sauce and cheese, and you do WHAT?!?!?!
OM poor, poor, G!!!
The horror...
The horror...
The horror..."

Warren Terra said...

There's a very close parallel in this country - the devout Christian pharmacists who insist they must be allowed not to dispense birth control. I oppose the idea that people may impose their religious values on others, whether that's a store clerk refusing to scan a bottle of wine, a pharmacist refusing to dispense the Pill, or a baker refusing to provide a wedding cake to a Gay couple or an interracial couple. I think M&S is wrong here, because it's none of the clerk's damn business to impose their religious proscriptions on me; if their religion truly procludes them from selling alcohol, they shouldn't be working the checkout.

Philo Vaihinger said...

There is no boycott and nobody is demanding that anyone be fired.

Nor is free speech the issue.

Free exercise is.

Better be careful.

Philo Vaihinger said...

With you, Warren.

This is no time for visceral Islamophilia.

And individuals refusing custom are not a boycott, anyway.

aimai said...

Wouldn't the clerk also be refusing to stock the store? Unload the boats? Where does it stop?

Philo Vaihinger said...

Do the same people oppose the right of Catholic hospitals to refuse to do abortions and support the right of vegetarian restaurants to not serve meat?

Ten Bears said...

We humans, we as a species, as a race, the human race, stand at a cusp, at an iteration in our evolution as humans, as a species, as a race, the human race, but if don't set aside these fairy tales to explain away the dark, justify sex with children, and profit, if we don't stop bickering over whose imaginary dog has the bigger dick, we may not survive at all.

Animals, less than sufficiently evolved, less than human, bow down to gods. Human Beings, do not.

I, and mine, will survive. The dog suckers, will not.

No fear.

Missy Vixen said...

If you carry what someone needs to buy, but your "religious beliefs" prevent you from completing that purchase, GET ANOTHER LINE OF WORK.

It is entirely that simple.

Missy Vixen said...

When I was a Seventh-Day Adventist and my employer wanted me to work on the Sabbath, I quit my job and got another. Regligious folk REALLY need to stop making others cater to their needs

Exley said...

I dropped into the comments to point out the similarities between this and the pharmacists who refused to hand out Plan B and birth control pills, but it seems several people have beaten me to it.

I would just add that there was an excellent article on this about a month ago written from the perspective of a Quaker.

The money quote:

But if someone serving in the military came to me and said they wanted me to defend their right to refuse military service, but that they also wanted to keep their job and be paid as if they were actually serving in combat, I would laugh in their face.

But, as they say read the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I have the same question as @aimai/8:35am:

The champagne that the Muslim Marks & Spencer clerk refused to touch was in a bottle.

Surely if s/he refused to touch the bottle which is in direct contact with alcohol, s/he should also refuse to walk in the aisle which contains the bottles, or work in the store which contains the alcohol aisle, or drive into the parking lot of the store itself.

Does anyone know what particular Muslim edict is being called into use here by this clerk?

And why does it prohibit touching the bottle but not prohibit working in the store which contains the bottle?

Examinator said...

What a beat up! A display of selfishness and impatience! Shame on those who got angry with M&S staff.

The reality is that M&S have the right to employ whom ever they choose and under what circumstances providing it's with in the law. People have the right to go there or not (period).

To those Selfish, self obsessed customers who can't wait..."aw didums". Had the girl in question been rude/condescending, then there is always a supervisor. Clearly you haven't been served by a part-time, disabled person or casual, anywhere.

I'd like a $ for every time one of them has had to get someone else to handle my query or had to hunt down someone who could answer a question I had for a product! (in your rationale why don't they always have 'experts' or people who can answer all the questions about their stock, after all they're there to serve me !)

As for a pharmacy, Doctor etc. not handing birth control issues. Strewth what part of a businesses' right to choose what to deal with (they are businesses when all is said and done)? I understand the concept of one horse town syndrome but in today's market big deal. Should they advertise or notify customers of this? PR would suggest yes. Particularly doctors, they should be compelled to forward terminations patients on to other's who will perform the procedures.

After America You claim to be the of rights of the individual and entrepreneurial

I do think there are issues with Publicly funded hospitals being choosy is different in that they are funded for and by Both sides of the argument. So to work in one you must be prepared to do the job. Likewise in Aust they have the flying doctor service because their patients are 100's of miles apart or from a (any) town, and they are often are literally the only option in parts of the 'bush”. It's publicly funded both by the tax payer and the public. Their Doctors and staff are chosen to deal with everything . I've just read a book on this service and some of their cases are well are “you're kidding me? and strewth!”.

Finally as for health insurance not covering birth control and terminations sorry but this is one of the main reasons I support basic public health being universal.

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