Gessler’s Hat and “Equality”: More than 60.000 sign petition to halt controversial EU Directive

While the controversial draft for a new “Anti-Discrimination Directive” will be discussed at ministerial level this week, citizen’s expressions of protest and discomfort are quickly increasing. There is now a new petition against it on CitizenGO which more than 60.000 citizens have already signed up to – although it is not even available in English! In that petition, citizens inform their national governments that the proposed measure is in actual fact an “Anti-Freedom Directive”.

While the open letter sent by 100 NGOs to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (see our earlier post) has criticised the controversial proposal in very general terms, describing it as an unnecessary and unjustified restriction of contractual liberty that due to its broad wording will lead to considerable legal uncertainty, the citizens’ petition voices a very different concern. It points out that similar legislation, where it already exists, is mainly used by “gay rights” organizations to harass and bully all those who continue expressing their opposition to the gay agenda. It is, so to say, the “Gessler’s hat” that the gay lobby wants to erect as a sign of their domination over the non-gay rest of society.

For those unfamiliar with German Literature and/or Swiss history, let us briefly recall the story of Gessler’s hat, which plays an important role in the foundational myth of the Swiss Confederation.

In the late middle ages, Switzerland was still under the rule of the Hapsburg dynasty who, as new rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, had only shortly before settled down in Vienna, leaving behind a governor (“Landvogt”) to take care of their Swiss possessions. That governor was Albrecht Gessler, a cruel and unjust ruler. According to the Chronicon Helveticum by Aegidius Tschudi (1505–1572), in 1307 Gessler raised a pole in the market square of Altdorf, placed his hat atop it, and ordered all passers-by to bow their knees before it. However, a certain Wilhelm Tell, whose marksmanship and pride were legendary, publicly refused to do so. Gessler’s cruel wrath was tempered by his curiosity to test Tell’s skill, so he gave Tell the option of either being executed or shooting an apple off his son’s head in one try. Tell succeeded in splitting the apple with his arrow, saving his own life. When Gessler asked why he had readied two arrows, he lied and replied that this was his habit. After being further questioned and given assurances that he wouldn’t be killed, Tell finally admitted that the second was intended for the tyrant if his son was harmed. Gessler then had Tell arrested in order to have him executed despite the assurances that had been given to him. In further course, however, Tell escaped and became the leader of the popular uprising that ended with the de facto independence of the Swiss confederation from German/Austrian rule. Later on, the episode was used as a plot for a drama by Friedrich Schiller, and for an opera by Gioacchino Rossini.

“Gessler’s hat” is thus the symbol of arbitrary and inherently unjust legislation.

Monument erected by the Nazis next to the Feldherrnhalle in Munich to commemorate their unsuccessful putsch of 9 November 1923

In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler set up his very own Gessler’s hat when he ordered that all passers-by should bow before the Feldherrenhalle in Munich, the place where he had been wounded in the course of his unsuccessful attempt to seize power through a coup d’état in 1923. This time however, there was no Wilhelm Tell to launch an uprising.

Using “anti-discrimination” legislation to bully and harass others: Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy

The allegation that “anti-discrimination” legislation, where it exists, is predominantly used by the more aggressive fringes of the “gay rights” movement to harass and publicly humiliate their opponents is not at all far-fetched. The petition at CitizenGO cites several examples, including the case of Hall and Preddy vs. Bull and Bull, in which a “gay” couple, despite there being no shortage of hotels publicly advertising their “gay-friendliness”, deliberately decided to spend their holiday in a bed & breakfast owned by a Christian couple whose stated policy it was to give rooms with twin beds only to married couples. Although this was obviously done with a visibly mean-spirited purpose of harassing the hotel owners, an elderly couple with frail health, and although the judge hearing the case that the hotel owners’ views on sodomy were “perfectly reasonable and legitimate”(!), he nevertheless convicted them to pay a fine of £ 3.600 plus legal fees. In other words, the law was used to bring sodomy under the roof of those who object to it.

The question is whether in a “pluralistic” society we really should have such laws. For some, “pluralism” means that they must be allowed to practise sodomy without being censured for it. But then it must also mean that others have the right to think that sodomy is not “equal to marriage”, and that they must be allowed to keep sodomites off their houses. Equal freedom for all means that the right of a gay couple to practice sodomy under somebody else’s roof must be negotiated, not that it can be imposed.