Humourphobic store sacks man for sharing Billy Connolly post

Humourphobic store sacks man for sharing Billy Connolly post June 23, 2019


SCOTTISH comedian Billy Connolly has made many jokes about religious during a career spanning decades – but chain store Asda saw nothing funny in a Connolly post shared on Facebook by one of its employees.

Image via Facebook

So they sacked Brian Leach, above, a “meeter and greeter” at its branch in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Since Leach announced his firing on his Facebook page dozens of people have expressed outrage over the way he was treated.

One woman said:

Look to see if there’s a way to contact Billy Connolly, get him on board. I’m sure he would be horrified to find someone had been sacked for sharing his comedy. Get some publicity about this.

On June 19 Leach wrote:

Unfortunately, I have today been dismissed from Asda. Some of my colleagues took offence to the Billy Connelly, (sic), thoughts on religion, that I posted early May.

It’s been a pleasure working with my friends and serving the public of Dewsbury and I will miss my regular customers x.

Leach, who says he is disabled, followed up by saying:

Feeling lost today. I would be getting prepared for my busy Sunday afternoon shift. 12 – 4.15 oh well I’ve got to get past this feeling.

An Asda spokesman said:

We would never comment on individual circumstances. However we do not tolerate any form of discrimination from colleagues or customers and take such behaviour extremely seriously.

This is what to expect when you get Connolly on the subject of religion:

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • igotbanned999

    TBH the way a lot of bloggers here react to this kind of thing reeks of hypocrisy.

    If someone posts something online that’s offensive to blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, LGBT people, atheists, Jews etc. then they deserve to be fired for it. But if someone posts something offensive to Christians or Muslims, they’re completely justified and they should face no consequences.

  • Tony Pincham

    I’m Christian, believer in the resurrection and somewhat conservative in my opinions BUT find this absolutely ridiculous. I can find humour in my religion and find it not to be in conflict of my faith. Billy Connolly is an absolute funny comedian and these people that find offense should just crawl back under their stones and let the rest of us get on with our lives, they are the reason that Christians are seen to be hypocrites.

  • Michael Neville

    It’s the difference between punching up and punching down. Punching up is making fun of those in power while punching down is attacking people marginalized people. The difference is where the cultural power of a joke is weighted. The idea that humor should “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” has been a sort of moral directive for comedians for some time. Dorothy Parker argued that ridicule was best used as a shield rather than a weapon – in other words, as a defense mechanism for the victimized instead of a tool deployed by the powerful. George Carlin echoed this sentiment, observing that “comedy has traditionally picked on people in power.” Comedians are supposed to be anti-establishment, and disrupt the status quo.

    Religion has been a dominant power in the world for forever, it’s in a position of social privilege. Plus the religious are often supporting oppression. We only have to look at how evangelicals and Catholics go out of their way to proudly discriminate against LGBTQ+s. Humor aimed at these bigots is a defense mechanism that Parker and Carlin talked about. Humor aimed at LGBTQ+s and other minorities is perpetuating cruelty against these people.

  • igotbanned999

    I have never bought into this argument. It just comes off as a double standard from where I’m sitting. Mocking bigots is one thing, but insulting entire categories of people that they belong to, which include those who are innocent of any wrongdoing, is bigotry in and of itself.

    It also leads to inconsistent rules where morality varies with geography. You would have me believe that in the USA, it’s right to disparage Christians but wrong to do so to Muslims. But in Saudi Arabia, suddenly the inverse is true? Bigotry is bigotry, period.

  • Michael Neville

    Okay, so your rectitude is so overpowering that you don’t understand how satire and mockery work. Maybe if you climb down from your high horse and remove the stick rammed up your large intestine you’ll get an idea as to what I was talking about. But I doubt it, you’re convinced of your own self-righteousness. You don’t want to hear anything that contradicts your arrogant and supercilious moral self-worth.

    I’ll leave you with one thing you might consider. The majority religions in the US and Saudi Arabia aren’t the same. So maybe, just maybe, punching up and punching down aren’t exactly the same in these two countries.

  • igotbanned999

    That’s my entire point. Any system of morality that varies based on geographic location is inherently ridiculous. It’s like saying that it would be immoral to shoplift in one country, but step over the border and suddenly it’s moral.

    You can’t make prejudiced statements about entire groups of people and justify it by saying that the group is privileged, because that ignores the situation of the individual. If it’s wrong to say ‘I hate Chinese people’ in America, then it’s equally wrong to say it in China.

  • Michael Neville

    No, your entire point is that you don’t understand satire. It’s obvious that the concept of punching up vs punching down is something that you not only don’t understand but don’t want to understand. You make that clear when you make fool‍ish statements like telling an anti-Chinese joke in China is the same as telling it in America.

    You may have the final word since you’ve not only been condescending and self-righteous in your patronizing arrogance but you’ve become as boring as the snobs you resemble.

    Have a shit‍ty day.

  • Raging Bee

    It’s like saying that it would be immoral to shoplift in one country, but step over the border and suddenly it’s moral.

    Well, I would certainly agree it’s immoral for ME to shoplift, because I’m perfectly able (today at least) to pay for what I’d be stealing; but I’d also be hesitant to judge some other sod who CAN’T pay for the same thing. So yeah, to a certain extent, morality does vary from one location to another, and from one class-circumstance to another.

  • Raging Bee

    One crucial difference between the racist and the religious critic is in what it implies about the person making the statements. A person who tells jokes about blacks or gays could be reasonably seen as someone who can’t be trusted to treat such people as decently as he treats others; while a person who makes jokes about religion is not necessarily someone who’d mistreat people of that religion.

    And no, this is not a perfectly rational or consistently applied principle for judging people; so what’s new? Very few of our judgments of other people are 100% rational anyway — that’s just how we roll. This particular firing was clearly wrong and discriminatory, but I’m willing to bet it’s not the most irrational hiring/firing decision that employer has made.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Moslems are sacrosanct, too.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    No — everyone plays by the same rules, and everyone and every idea is subject to satire.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Who gets to decide who’s ‘up’ and who’s ‘down’?

  • barriejohn

    I agree. Challenging, and even ridiculing, ideas and beliefs is entirely different to labelling different groups of people because of what they are. It’s a basic human right. I don’t know how people can’t see this.

  • rubaxter

    Walmart Poisons EVERYTHING!

    I’ll stop there in case my previous post never gets ‘moderated’ into freedom.

    Had additional details about the Karma from the British Empire coming home to roost.

  • Michael Neville

    Now that is a legitimate question, unlike nattering about majority religions in Saudi Arabia and the US.

    It has to do with social power dynamics. The idea is simple: Your power and influence should alter who you publicly insult. Because your power effects the joke. You should always punch up, satirize or ridicule people of higher power and influence than you. And you should never punch down, mock or insult somebody of lower power and influence than you.

    The people defending their right to insult people below them appear, to me, to be mainly Nazi-sympathizers or pseudo-enlightened dude bros, usually white. I don’t know why they’re getting so worked up about this subject. It’s obvious they enjoy making fun of minorities, women, LGBTQ+s, etc. and just want an excuse to do it.

    People have the right to express their stupid opinions all they want and try to persuade culture to espouse their ideas. That’s what the First Amendment is all about, to convince the public of your position. However “punching down” is inherently distasteful. Negative association alone diminishes the power of the argument.

    It’s about comedy, making people laugh. This shouldn’t be complex.

  • igotbanned999

    That goes hand in hand with my point about painting large groups with a broad brush. If someone is so poor that they can’t afford to eat, you could forgive them for shoplifting, but what if someone is caught stealing and they just look as if they might be poor/homeless? Should the store owner and police just let them get away with it, without even knowing how bad their financial situation actually is?

  • igotbanned999

    I agree that there’s an important difference between criticizing the precepts and dogma of a religion and criticizing its adherents.

  • rubaxter

    A big Thank You to moderator/owner for approving this.

    I wanted to have concrete examples of the irony at work here what with a Walmart-type enterprise imposing possibly ‘foreign’ practices in other countries, but where at the same time the ‘country’ didn’t really have clean hands as far as Justice was concerned.

  • Raging Bee

    Do you really think that attacking or ridiculing a belief or ideology that is held by large numbers of people is the same as “painting large groups with a broad brush?”

  • Broga

    The Christian God must be weak indeed to allow himself to be defended by defenders of such a character.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    It has to do with social power dynamics. The idea is simple: Your power and influence should alter who you publicly insult.

    Right, and by what measures do we quantify relative power? And is it assessed per identity group, or per individual? also, may a poor gay white man make a joke about a rich straight black woman? Is there a reference chart?

    You do realize this is neo-marxist ideology you’re espousing? You’ve just replaced ‘proles’ and ‘kulaks’ with ‘LGBTQ+s’ and ‘white men’. Whatever its iteration, the group-power-dynamics paradigm is a pernicious, hate-filled ideology, one which inevitably leads to immense injustice.

  • igotbanned999

    I actually made it clear that I appreciated the difference in another post. There’s a big difference between ‘The tenets of Christianity are dangerous’ and ‘all Christians are bad people’.

  • Michael Neville

    If you’re trying to get me to admit that quantifying relative power is subjective then I admit it. You pays your penny and takes your choice. Do you have anything better to suggest or are you like

  • Michael Neville

    If you’re trying to get me to admit that quantifying relative power is
    subjective then I admit it. I think that is obvious, but apparently it isn’t. You pays your penny and takes your choice.

    I love how pseudo-intellectuals throw phrases like “neo-marxist ideology” around. A quote from Marx seems appropriate. Groucho said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well, I have others.”

  • Raging Bee

    Okay, so who, specifically, is saying the latter? I don’t remember hearing that from anyone, except maybe Muslims; but they generally bash “Crusaders” (and Jews too, but that’s another matter), not “Christians.”

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    No, I asked what measures you’d use to quantify it, and also how conflicting oppression identities would be sorted out. You gave no answer because you have none.

    Let’s see — Marx viewed the world in terms of economic class struggle. The Marxists of the Frankfurt School adapted that to identity classes and that became Critical Theory and all its derivative spawn. What you propose here is stock Critical Theory. So, it’s marxism, but it’s new! What would be a good phrase to describe that?

  • igotbanned999

    I was speaking in general, as a response to the whole ‘punching up vs punching down’ concept.

  • Michael Neville

    And I told you that it was subjective.

    I don’t care what Habermas and Geuss think about communicative rationality. I was talking about one aspect of comedy. I agree with Karl Popper about the Frankfurt School:

    Marx’s own condemnation of our society makes sense. For Marx’s theory contains the promise of a better future. But the theory becomes vacuous and irresponsible if this promise is withdrawn, as it is by Adorno and Horkheimer.

    Popper, Addendum 1974: The Frankfurt School (1994)

  • Ignorant Amos

    Okay, so who, specifically, is saying the latter?

  • Pofarmer

    I don’t know if you are at all familiar with the “Babylon Bee”. It’s supposed to be a Christian “humor” site, but one of it’s schticks is punching down at people and I’ve called out Christian friends who have posted their stuff.

  • barriejohn

    That was a new on on me. Some of it is quite funny, but they certainly do seem to have it in for certain people! “Christian comedians” have always left me cold, I’m afraid. They should stick to preaching the Gospel.

  • persephone

    You cannot choose your race, perceived gender, s3xual orientation, etc. You can choose your religion. That’s the difference. In the U.S., you can’t be refused a job or fired from one because you are a certain religion, but you can if you use your religion to cause problems for other people.

    You can have the most sincere belief system in the world, but no one is required to give it or you respect because of it. We just have to tolerate it.

    Some people don’t recognize Jews as a race or ethnicity, but it is clear that many do, and many of them are bigots and even fascists.

    As to atheists, if they can’t handle it, they’re just more whiny little snowflakes.

  • Ignorant Amos

    We just have to tolerate it.

    But only up to a point imo.