Poor old Ron Heather looks sad. The bus he was due to drive on Saturday had the Atheist Bus advert on the side. Mr Heather said, “I'd heard about this silly campaign in London but I had no idea it was coming to Southampton.
“I had certainly hoped they were not coming here because I didn't want to make a stand.
“I was in a dilemma but I felt strongly I couldn't drive that bus and so I went up to my inspectors and told them there was no way I could drive it.”
It’s funny though, Ron isn’t always sad…
Sometimes he’s happy. I think it all depends on what the photographer is telling him to do!
Seriously, the problem here is that the ads which appear on a particular driver’s bus are really nothing to do with that driver. They are to do with the bus company and the advertiser.
Would Mr Heather think that it would be OK for a vegetarian bus driver to refuse to drive a bus advertising McDonalds? For a racist to refuse to drive a bus showing a black person? For an atheist to refuse to drive a bus with a Christian advert (although back in reality-land I’ve never heard of such a thing happening)?
Mr Heather thinks he knows better than everyone else. He’s special, and deserves to be treated differently than his co-workers.
It transpires that on seeing the terrible Atheist bus, Mr Heather took it upon himself to go home, as there were no other buses available. This means that someone else had to do Mr Heather’s work.
Shamefully, his bus company has caved to his demands immediately and offered to ensure that he will only have to drive a bus with the ad if there are no other buses available.
We need to stamp religious exceptionalism on the head. Human Rights law exists to ensure that people are treated equally, not to ensure that religious believers get better treatment than everyone else.
Shame on Mr Heather, and shame on the First Bus.