Friday, April 3, 2015

The Big Gay Pizza Place In Walkerton IN

Honestly? No: The Omnivore Prob Wouldn't Eat A Pizza That Looked Like That
In case you hadn't heard, Memories Pizza, of Indiana has closed its doors thanks to a deluge of threats from Social Justice Warriors. Their crime? Declaring they wouldn't cater a gay wedding as they are a Christian company!
That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?” says Kevin O'Connor.
The O'Connor family told ABC 57 news that if a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion came in to the restaurant to eat, they would never deny them service.
The O'Connors say they just don't agree with gay marriages and wouldn't cater them if asked to.
The reaction was swift and vicious:
  • Their Yelp Page was deluged with negative comments--some using foul language--and pictures--some pornographic!
The Omnivore's Favorite
In Brietbart terms, 'Big Gay' has taken a scalp!

The Story of the Pig N Whistle
Back in the halcyon days of November, 2013 (you were probably too young to remember it), a Manhattan establishment known as the Pig N Whistle rose to national prominence when they fired a waitress for refusing to cover a $96.00 tab that a group dined-and-dashed on. Big Gay was there too (although neither the waitress nor the establishment was gay--nor did they have anything to do with gay rights politics).

Their Yelp site was hammered. Even today you can find references to this and 1-star reviews. It too was a shot-heard-round the Internet--and while they managed to stay in business, the Internet retribution was swift and, probably, terrible. There is no indication of a GoFundMe raising half a million dollars for them--but it probably happened.

Who's to say?

The Omnivore's more serious point is this:
One says, “This business believes in hate.
Another says, “I commend you for your ‘we hate gays’ confession. It is not every day that that a business is willing to alienate 60% of their customer base who support gay marriage.
Yet another says, “Memories Pizza owner are bigots.
And another, “Bigoted owners=hateful employees=terrible service= plenty of other pizza places to choose from…ignore this place.
Yelp is not any better. One guys writes, “My wife/cousin and I went hoping to see some vintage kkk memorabilia and check out their 3rd Reich themed menus but were disappointed to find that their hate is only directed at gays!”
Another simply said, “You suck. And you’re probably going to go under.” [ Big Gay is precognitive!! ]
A guy from Houston said,I was totally going to get this place to cater my gay wedding, but since Crystal and her incestuous family don’t support the fact that I’ve chosen to have sex with men instead of the goats they breed with, it looks like I’m going to have to go with Dominoes.
Now, let's compare that to some Tweets from the #GamerGate debacle. Noteworthy is that's Milo  Yiannopolulos is pretty down with the idea that Feminist Bullies [are] Tearing The Video Game Industry Apart--that's the title of his article. This isn't saying that endorses GamerGate--but, The Omnivore is just putting this out there since Milo's article seems to be in kind of agreement with that part of the #GG Vibe.

It's A Valid, Well-Posed Complaint, Isn't It?
Uh . . .
Ok--Well: Points For Using The Correct "you're"!
So sure: Brietbart and Milo sure weren't endorsing the above--and for all we know, those tweets could've been made up--or sent by Social Justice Warriors to make #Gamer-Gators look bad. It's possible, innit? Just like maybe MemoriesPizza is lying about death-threats and posted a slew of negative Yelp-reviews to their own site to get 500k in sympathy donations?

It could be a plan, right?

But if Brietbart is going to claim 'feminist bullies' are ruining gaming maybe--just maybe--Milo and his publisher are kinda-kinda-sorta endorsing the abuse since it's okay to back-talk a bully, right? And maybe--just-maybe--some large fraction of #GamerGate really is sending hate-tweets (and, erm, threats) to #GG targets. That's also possible, right?

And if that's the case--if The Right is going to accuse Big Gay and Liberals and The Left of supporting and endorsing a parody website, a bunch of what are really, honestly, freakin' mild negative reviews, and a Tweet from a high school girl's golf coach that was, pretty much, as threatening as a girl's high school golf coach could be--then don't they also have to take responsibility for at least some of that #GamerGate abuse?

Wouldn't that be . . . The Omnivore doesn't know . . . symmetric?

The Omnivore thinks it would be. That's the problem here.

So What IS Going On With This?
A few different things are going on here. Let's start with the big one: the refusal to cater.

Why Not Cater A Gay Wedding?
The owners say it's because they disapprove of a chosen gay life-style. Fair enough. But the serious religious objection to baking a cake for a gay wedding or doing photography is because doing so is a creative endeavor. It isn't because you disapprove of life-style choices of the groom and groom. There's no prohibition in the bible against doing business with sinners (that'd be everyone) and there's no 'degrees of sin' in (most) Christian theology (all sin is sin). 

Now, to be sure, you can extend that to saying that catering a gay wedding is endorsing it--if you glorify god with all your work that might not fly--but even then it is not a given that catering a gay wedding is a sin. Indeed, baking a wedding cake might be a form of ministry:
This is why Hugh Halter bakes the cake, and shows up to be a friend at their wedding. I don’t like a lot of things either, but one thing I do want is that they know I really do love them and I want the relationship to stay open. I’ve not condoned or condemned. I’ve not led them into sin, or helped them sin more. I’ve not misrepresented my God, or become a self-righteous jackwagon. I’ve just been a friend of sinners like Jesus or like the old man waiting on the porch for his son to return home.
While there is still a theological debate to be had here, MemoriesPizza is not having it. They don't approve of the life-choices of gays who choose to be gay--so they won't cater the wedding. That's textbook discrimination. It doesn't deserve death threats--but if people will come out en mass to give bad Yelp reviews to a pub that unfairly fires a waitress, that same degree of ire might be warranted for a pizza place that calls out gay couples.

The Social Justice Apocalypse
The Omnivore is not in favor of the Internet Hate Machine. The harassing phone calls (yeah, yeah, not Internet? Maybe they have VOIP phones, dude: you don't know) are all kinds of bad. The Omnivore also believes that some members of the 'Social Justice' movement do engage in bad and bullying behavior: They just describe the target as the bully and then self-righteously pile on.

But you know what? Everyone does that--or, at least, members of many, many groups. Those groups are tarnished by the behavior of their members. If The Omnivore were sending upset messages to someone and witnessed an Internet Dog-Pile in that person's direction, he would be morally required to at least back off--and probably to turn to that person's defense. This doesn't change because you're a minority or an oppressed group (although it may if the target is a powerful public figure). 

The problem here is that this doesn't seem to be a case of, primarily, Social Justice Warriors. Firstly, the terminology is pretty basic (no 'straight ablest privilege' call outs, even a lack of real venom in what Brietbart posted). Secondly, the 'harassment' (save for phone calls) isn't following the usual pattern. Yelp isn't a conversation the same way Twitter is and for a small-town pizzeria Internet reviews are probably not their life-blood the same way things are in the Big City.

In other words, compared to other things we've seen in this space, this isn't approximating a worst-case-scenario. 

Public Opinion Is Not 'Big Gay'
You can make the case that the gay-rights movement has been dramatically successful in moving the dial on public opinion but you can't say that people who support gay marriage are all 'Big Gay.' The numbers show that gay marriage has reached a critical mass of acceptance and standing against that--even on religious grounds--is going to be unpopular

Being unpopular, today, gets you Internet outrage--this is the new way of things whether you are FeministFrequency or MemoriesPizza or The Pig N Whistle. The Omnivore is going to add boorish to the behavior that gets you hammered too: if MemoriesPizza had talked less about their reasons for not catering a gay wedding (or just said "Woah, we've never been asked to do that!") they might have gotten less--or even no--outrage. 

There's a difference between standing up for your beliefs and saying "I choose to be heterosexual"  (really?) and pretending there isn't doesn't do anyone any favors. The owners of MemoriesPizza didn't stand solely on religious grounds--they chose to be judgy about other people's lifestyle choices.

They're being, it turns out, paid pretty handsomely for it (a half-mil isn't chump-change) but that position also comes with bad Yelp Reviews. The speed of the Right to ascribe a force-behind-the-throne to this is telling: in today's world you have to cast the enemy as a larger, more powerful bully in order to unleash your wrath on them. If that painting means creating 'Big Gay' you might want to consider that your brush--it is too broad.

Unless the owners retire on the GoFundMe, The Omnivore sees no reason MemoriesPizza won't be back: the hate-calls will die down and, at least to-date, there haven't been credible threats of violence that The Omnivore is aware of. Of course there might be another problem: if eating at the MP becomes a social signifier that you're a troglodyte then while they might maintain a core business, they might find a bunch of regulars have stopped coming.

No doubt, if that happens, they'll see that--and their allies will cast it--as persecution. Should that happen, it'll be an object lesson in both good and bad of the Free Market and a lesson in how being a minority can be unpleasant when you are not protected by the government. It'll be one everyone should listen to.


  1. Does Big Gay Pizza taste any different than "straight pizza" (is that a thing?)? No? Then what are we even talking about this for?

    #PizzaIsPizza, fools!

    Honestly, not everything has to go political... Or does it?

    -- Ω

    1. Everything that can go political must. However, and notably, keeping this stuff in the news *used* to be very advantageous for republicans. Today that's shifted to Democrats--this is kind of the same-stuff, different day (different side).

      There *are* some interesting opinion pieces from the right about how 'dangerous' it is to be *unpopular*--some quoting liberals from decades ago (without getting the irony--that when traditional values were on top, they weren't making it safe to be gay or counter-cultural).

      I think that's worth a post, really.

      The fact is that these pizza people (a) are caught on the far-side of a culture 'rip-tide' (a perspective shift so fast--and so total--that it boggles the mind) and (b) didn't handle it elegantly (the questions about how to make things easier on those caught in this quickly shifting planet elide the fact that the pizza-people's quote was ... not cool).

      The answer of course is that it has to be some of both: people who disagree with gay-marriage (which was fine 10 years ago) need to recognize that *deriding* gay people as having made bad life-choices isn't cool. If they present that way, it''s probably damage-control.

      -The Omnivore