Thursday, April 02, 2015

Indiana is for Bigots. And Handouts. But NOT Gay Wedding Pizza Catering.

Anyone who has been paying any attention is aware of Indiana's new Religious Freedom law and all the hullabaloo it has created. The governor is under fire, legislature is frantically trying to rewrite the law, and businesses and organizations and even whole states are boycotting the Hoosier state.

(If anyone is not aware, Indiana's law is NOT the same as the federal or other state laws conservatives are comparing it to. It was written with the aid of anti-LGBT lobbyists who have been very clear of the intent of the law and can be seen standing behind the governor during the signing of the law.)

But aside from all the fallout taking place around the state, the story of Memories Pizza in the small town of Walkerton (pop. 2,247) in Northern Indiana caught my attention.

There's not a whole lot of people in Walkerton, so Memories Pizza isn't a huge business. But somehow they thought it a good idea to speak out to the media and publicly state that they would never cater a gay wedding with their pizza. Nevermind that no gay couple would ever cater a wedding with pizza or that Memories had never been part of such a request: they wanted to make it clear that because Jesus they would never be a part of this wildly hypothetical homosexual situation.

Cue the Justisplosion!

We start with the fuse being lit by this little story. People were just aching to see if anything would come of the law the way it was being framed and there it was in one happy little sound bite. It went viral.

To the Yelp! Yelp was the first to fall. I think they had 2 reviews before the story. Now they have hundreds of 1-stars. Likewise they were lambasted in comments on their Facebook page.

And because they hadn't secured their domain name, someone else bought it and populated it with a message not to discriminate.

And then things reportedly got a little out of hand. Apparently they were receiving so many critical phone calls and even some threats, the owner decided to temporarily close.

And at that point, I'm a little sad for them.

There's no excusing ignorance or bigotry, but the owner did clarify he welcomed anyone into the restaurant, just didn't want to take part in a gay wedding. I'll give him a bit of a pass on that. It was stupid to make a spectacle out of himself, but it's also stupid that there were so many phone calls and threats by people going too far that he had to shut down.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to shutting down. They started a GoFundMe page. And that's where the backlash to the backlash is living right now. As of this morning, they'd pulled in about $30,000. But then Glenn Beck plugged the hell out of the page on his radio show. As of this writing, they have pulled in over $190,000 in less than 24 hours. And since they keep bumping up their goal, it appears they're quite comfortable with the insane handout.

More than anything, this is an interesting societal proxy war on norms in the age of a 24-hour news cycle and unlimited interconnectedness. Bigotry will not be tolerated by much of our society, so when that one gopher head pops up in a hightened atmosphere of sensitivity, all of Yelp and Facebook and phones come down upon it. A way to counter the counter comes along. Some jump in to support. Some call that support "anti-bullying" but most are anti-liberal, anti-gay, anti-tech, right wing media brainwashed about the details, or all of the above.

Indiana rewriting the law is not going to solve the problem, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Eventually LGBT will become a federally protected class, and then the real discussion of where one person's right to discriminate bumps into another person's right to be treated equally. Or at least we would if real discussions were possible in this environment of highly-polarized, highly-politicized, feigned persecution and bigotry wrapped in religion.

UPDATE: As of 11am EST 4/3: Yesterday's plug by Glenn Beck was followed by Rush Limbaugh then Sean Hannity. Hannity had the owner on his Fox show last night. The fund is at about $540,000.