Is The Force Against Tesco?

A chap by the name of Daniel Jones was asked to leave a Tesco store in Bangor, north Wales, after refusing to remove a hood that he 'believes' he has to wear in public as part of his religion, and is now considering taking legal action against the company.

Mr Jones, 23, is the founder of the 'International Church of Jediism', which apparently has as many as 500,000 followers worldwide.

Jones (a.k.a. Morda Hehol) said: "It states in our Jedi doctrination (sic) that I can wear headwear. It just covers the back of my head, you have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work but you have to wear a cover for your head when you are in public."

He obviously wrote the religion quite well and thought about how to get attention - doubtless you don't have to wear a hood at home because a) no-one is looking and b) you might get a bit hot and sweaty. Similarly when at work because a) you don't want to look a complete freak in front of your colleagues without at least a few hundred years of tradition to support your 'choice' of apparel and b) you'd never get hired in the first place. Speaking as an employer, if any prospective candidate came to an interview wearing a hood and claiming to be a Jedi, I most assuredly would not hire them, however good their CV. Whether you wish to interpret this as religious discrimination or discrimination against the mentally ill is up to you.
In public, of course, one must make a visual statement of your religion; how else is anybody to know that you have chosen the path to salvation and all who disagree are damned?

In response a wag from Tesco's PR department said: "He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers." Clearly they're not fearing a land-mark legal ruling or a massive compensation claim - they'll probably get away with giving him an apology and a light-sabre.

I'm not sure how to take this... If the guy is being genuine and really thinks his religious freedom has been infringed upon, then he either needs psychiatric help or a good kicking, I'm not sure which. It's possible however that it's just a stunt to show up just how ridiculous the laws protecting religious expression are, and how damaging they can be when used by some people with a politico-religiously motivated agenda. I'm sure most of you remember that Tesco recently faced a legal challenge, under the same set of laws, from a Muslim store worker who refused to handle alcohol (despite being well aware that this would be part of their job). The Chemist chain Boots was also in the spotlight, about a year ago I think, after a pharmacist - a pharmacist! - refused to dispense the contraceptive pill because it went against her religious beliefs.

So if the former is the case, then I'm sorry Mr Hehol, but you're just a sad little wanker. And if the latter, then thank you Mr Jones for bringing down such a great deal of derision and ridicule upon your head in pursuit of reminding us all just how stupid the laws pertaining to the free practice of religion are. The Jury is still out.

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Richard T said...

The wee jedi presents as good an argument against legal aid as I've read. If he goes to law as is his right, it should be at his own expense but of course he may yet not have come across the term frivolous and vexatious litigant.

Dave said...

Well hopefully if he is serious, and he does get legal aid, the Jugde will laugh in his face, tell him to grow up, and order him to pay costs.