Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Asda: a supermarket chain behaves badly and hypocritically

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “billy,” is named after comedian Billy Connolly. The link is in the cartoon’s description: it’s a 30-second clip of Connolly declaring that “religion is OVER.” The author’s description:

It’s another real-life joke! This is the story. This is part of the Billy Connolly routine. And this is a recent screenshot from Asda’s online store:

Before we get to the cartoon, it will behoove you to look at the Mirror story, in which an Asda  employee (Asda is a supermarket chain) was fired simply for posting the short clip. Why? It impugns all religions but the reason they gave was, yes, “Islamophobia.” From that story:

An Asda employee says he was sacked by the supermarket giant after sharing a Billy Connolly sketch about religion on his Facebook page.

Till worker Brian Leach was dismissed after a colleague in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, complained that the comments in the Scottish comedian’s skit, which was years old, were anti-Islamic.

The 54-year-old disabled granddad, who has been accused of Islamophobia, said he was hauled into a meeting and later “dismissed without notice” for violating Asda’s social media policy.

. . .The video referred to in the post is Mr Connolly’s Religion is Over taken from his live stage act a number of years ago.

In the sketch, the comedian rails against religious followers of Christianity and Islam.

It includes the lines: “Religion is over, lads, it’s f****** over. Take your Reformation, your Vatican, your f****** Mecca, and f*** off.

“Suicide f****** bombing – now there’s a bright idea. Every time there’s a bang the world is a w***** short. F****** idiots.”

An Asda spokesman said this:

 “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.”

Discrimination? It was criticism of religion in general, with three faiths included! Yes, Leach’s clip criticized religion, which would constitute free speech in the U.S. Of course employers can fire anyone they want, but this is palpably unfair, and an odious osculation of Islam in particular. Really, they dismissed an ageing and disabled grandfather without recourse, even after he apologized? What kind of outfit is Asda, anyway?

Leach’s apology and admission that his Facebook post was offensive didn’t matter. He was sacked, and, as a disabled senior with few prospects of getting a job, was devastated.

Note that a.) it was criticism of Islam, and not Catholicism or Protestantism, that constituted the basis for the complaint. I suspect the complaining colleague was a Muslim.

b.) Leach’s post doesn’t seem to have constituted particular “Islamophobia”: he posted a clip critical of religion in general.

c.) Such is the coddling of Islam in Britain right now that people have to tread very carefully, but only about one religion. It’s perfectly fine to take the mickey out of the Anglicans. This climate, of course, is the result of a campaign by Muslims to make their religion immune from criticism. (This post will undoubtedly be banned in Pakistan for blasphemy because it includes an image of Muhammad.)

Finally, Asda SELLS the VERY CLIP THAT CONSTITUTED A FIRING OFFENSE! That is sheer hypocrisy.

If I knew where to write ASDA, I would. What an employee posts on his own social media, in particular a general criticism of religion, is not a good cause for firing and ruining someone’s life.

Anyway, here’s the cartoon:

32 Comments

  1. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    That use of the word discrimination is what’s most disturbing. Why would it even come to mind unless you knew that blasphemy wouldn’t sit well with modern ears?

  2. GBJames
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I imagine the most effective place to express one’s opinion about this kind of thing would be on Asda’s Twitter feed or their Facebook page.

    • Posted June 26, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I tweeted to them here:

      • JezGrove
        Posted June 26, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        The ASDA (UK) Complaints Department webpage helpfully lists their CEO’s email address: sean.clarke@asda.co.uk I’ll be dropping Mr Clarke an email very soon.

  3. W.T. Effingham
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    ¶O Pakistan! WordPress must honor thee!¶

  4. Bruce Lilly
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    > If I knew where to write ASDA, I would.

    From https://www.asda.com/help/company-details?cmpid=ahc-_-ahc-_-asdacom-_-privacy-contact-us-_-footer-_-about-companies

    Asda Stores Limited
    Asda House
    South Bank
    Great Wilson Street
    Leeds
    LS11 5AD
    Registered in England & Wales, company No. 00464777
    ICO registration no: Z7545987
    FCA No. 407914
    VAT No. GB 362 0127 92

  5. boggy
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    ASDA (originally ‘Associated Dairies’) is now part of the Walmart group, so you might ba able to make contact through Walmart.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      If they are under Walmart, good luck with that. The religious slant there goes back many years. Employees use to hold prayer meeting at Walmart. Bentonville, Arkansas.

  6. Posted June 26, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s notable that everyone will insist that terrorism and suicide bombing are (chorus) Nothing To Do With Islam, and yet making a joke about suicide bombing is of course “anti-Islamic”.

    Of course employers can fire anyone they want, …

    Not in Europe they can’t. In the UK employers can only summarily sack someone for “gross misconduct”. It would be interesting if this one went to a tribunal.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      It would be interesting if this one went to a tribunal.

      Doesn’t England still have the £1500-odd charge for registering a case with the Industrial Tribunal? It’s never been an issue for me – it’s covered by the union – so I’m not entirely sure if that’s still the case in Scotland. I think it may have been a devolved matter and got corrected a few years ago.
      Hmmm … looks for phone book – there’s a BFAWU rep I know somewhere down in that area of Englandshire.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      It’s notable that everyone will insist that terrorism and suicide bombing are (chorus) Nothing To Do With Islam, and yet making a joke about suicide bombing is of course “anti-Islamic”.

      An extremely good point!

    • Posted June 27, 2019 at 3:52 am | Permalink

      If the poor man’s contract had a clause in it saying that posting offensive material on Facebook constitutes gross misconduct, I’m afraid, he’s probably going to lose.

      That such a thing as posting an opinion about religion (or a fairly sick joke about suicide bombers) on a personal Facebook page should be considered to be gross misconduct seems pretty over the top though.

      • GBJames
        Posted June 27, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        Mostly I agree with you but I find the idea of a “personal Facebook page” a bit strange. Kind of like having a “personal culture”. Facebook exists to share stuff with other people and rarely fits my definition of “personal”.

        Just my personal opinion, of course.

  7. Posted June 26, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    There’s a comment on the Jesus and Mo web page which gives the email address of ASDA’s CEO.

  8. FRank Bath
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Billy Connolly, for many years the greatest British comedian of modern times. Youtube. Mind the accent.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Mind the accent.

      Classic Glaswegian. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that it has more than a passing acquaintance with English.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      In 2003 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), leading some, including Wikipedia and the BBC, to refer to him as Sir Billy Connolly. So mind your manners too.

  9. Geoff Toscano
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got an Asda brand credit card, plus my wife worked for them for several years. As somebody else pointed out they are owned by Walmart, something that was low key until recently but now features in their supermarket signs.

    I intend writing to them.

  10. Posted June 26, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we should co-opt the term ‘Islamophobia’ and make it refer to the assumption that Muslims are the only people who are too immature to deal with criticism.

    It’s pure bigotry.

  11. Brujo Feo
    Posted June 26, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    My email to Mssrs. Clarke and Burnley…

    Gentlemen:

    Now let me make sure that I have the facts straight here:

    One of your workers, a disabled grandfather named Brian Leach, posted a clip of a Billy Connolly video…on his own social media page, which is not in any way associated with your company.

    It’s pretty well understood that Mr. Connolly’s brand of humor is rather coarse, and this one was no different, saying rather harsh things about various religions, and indeed, religion in general. But of course you would know this, because your company profits from selling the DVD of the video from which that clip was taken.

    And also of course, it wasn’t his savaging of Protestants or Catholics which got him sacked; no–it was his supposed “Islamophobia,” together, of course, with your own shocking lack of spines that did that.

    I realize that you over there don’t have anything precisely analogous to our First Amendment over on this side of the pond, but I think that the word “hypocrisy” is spelled just the same.

    Shame on you. Grow a pair, admit your fault, and give the man back his job.

    With disappointment…

    • EdwardM
      Posted June 26, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I get your point, Brujo, but I have to say that it wouldn’t be a First Amendment issue on this side of the pond either.

      • Brujo Feo
        Posted June 26, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes, EdwardM, in my day gig I’m a lawyer, and I was quite aware that there is no issue of gov’t. suppression here.

        But lay people use the phrase all the time to express a tradition of free speech that USED to have more currency here than there. I was using it in that broader, and yes, technically incorrect sense. My bad.

        • EdwardM
          Posted June 26, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Quite right and I might have phrased it the same way. I guess I couldn’t contain the pedantry. That’s MY bad.

          • Brujo Feo
            Posted June 26, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

            Oh, no worries. I find myself guilty of the same on a far too regular basis.

  12. Col
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    The very fact that this over-gged, knee jerk reaction is becoming more prevalent only highlights the phobia in general. Jumping at shadows & crying wolf at every opportunity will only increase the chasm of ignorance between cultures & will weaken that frail bridge of understanding & knowledge that allows harmony to tread safely.

    I will better respect religious logic when religion actually accepts logic.
    (Picture fade with Asda music & me gently slapping my back pocket..)

  13. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    ASDA should have given him a bonus for promoting material that they sell. Beyond ridiculous.

  14. Flushedphoenix
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Asda House
    South Bank
    Great Wilson Street
    Leeds
    United Kingdom

    Area’s head office for complaints I may have used it a few times

  15. Frobus
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Hate to rain on your parade friend but in all likelihood it would be someone white British that complained. In my experience most Muslim folk don’t give a toss about such things. And as you said, it was aimed at all religions..not a specific one.

    Please don’t purport to understand how any religion works in the UK. You simply don’t know and are making huge generalisations, mostly from the uninformed guff on the internet and how ‘scared’ people feel in the US. It’s boring and wrong.

    • Posted June 27, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry, but I hate to rain on your parade, but I’ve read plenty of reports about Muslim “offense” in the UK. Neither of us knows who complained,but that of course was not the point of the post, which was that a. Muslims have behaved in such a way to insulate themselves from criticism of their religion and b. a worker was unjustly fired for posting a clip from a video THAT WAS SOLD IN HIS STORE.

      You didn’t read the posting rules before you barged in here, did you? Well, your lack of civility and your unfounded arrogance have led to your being escorted out with a firm boot on the tuchas. Bye!


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