The news that a learn’d judge has decided that eco-mentalism is a religion both entertains and terrifies me.
When Rupert Dickinson, the chief executive of one of Britain’s biggest property firms, left his BlackBerry behind in London while on a business trip to Ireland, he simply ordered one of his staff to get on a plane and deliver the device to him.
For Dickinson’s then head of sustainability, Tim Nicholson, the errand was much more than an executive indulgence: it embodied the contempt with which his boss treated his deep philosophical beliefs about climate change.
In a significant decision today , a judge found Nicholson’s views on the environment were so deeply held that they were entitled to the same protection as religious convictions, and ruled that an employment tribunal should hear his claim that he was sacked because of his beliefs.
Entertains, because it shows that eco-mentalism isn’t based upon logic or science, but on a deeply held belief in something beyond logic or science. In the Holy Word of St Al Gore of Tennessee, and the Devine Moddeling of Goddard. In a consistently vague set of claims that change when the science proves them wrong, but only enough that the exact bit that was proven wrong isn’t referred to again. A house built on sand, where every grain of sand examined thus far has been proven unsuitable for building anything on, but the housebuilders refuse to draw from that the conclusion that the rest of the sand might just be the same.
And that tickles the hell out of me.
Of course, it also terrifies me. Because now people who just refuse to do their jobs can hide behind their mentalism. And it’ll likely spread:
Camilla Palmer, of Leigh Day and Co, said it opened doors for an even wider category of deeply held beliefs, such as feminism, vegetarianism or humanism. “It’s a great decision. Why should it only be religions which are protected?”
Well, there may be a debate as to whether religions should be protected. But I would suggest that the definition should be restricted to something that has a wide enough following and a significant length of history, otherwise cults and craziness would be included. And otherwise mentalists of all stripes will go into jobs, cry their religion and hope to close down places. Places like butchers and farms, if Ms Palmer is on the ball about vegetarianism.
And that would truly be terrifying.