Oh The Memories

You’d have to be living under a rock to not hear about the controversy going on in Indiana, but you may not have heard of the firestorm brewing over the reaction to the statements made by the owners of Memories Pizza.  In short, Crystal and Kevin O’Connor told a local news station that if they were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would decline due to their Christian beliefs.  Never mind the fact that pizza isn’t exactly standard fare at a wedding, the quote was met with vicious attacks including a tweet from a local golf coach at a high school stating her desire to “burn the pizzeria down.”  She has rightfully been suspended pending a formal investigation, but even more threats have poured in across websites and social media.

In response to these threats, over $800,000 has been raised for the owners of Memories Pizza as part of a GoFundMe campaign initiated by Lawrence Billy Jones of the Conservative new site, The Blaze.  It is possible that by the end of the Easter weekend, the owners of this small pizzeria will be millionaires.  What a great teaching moment for those who demonstrate their activism with extremism.  When you resort to threats of violence or escalated rhetoric you serve your opposition, and you do so disproportionately to anything they could do for themselves.  Not to mention that is just a demonstration of barbaric values and decorum.  Progressives are supposed be for “progress”, hence the word’s placement in the root of the word.  The acts of this coach and others who joined in her campaign of threats are no different than the parents who have the children who hold signs stating “God Hates Fags.”

I can think of no single event that could have possibly fueled the cause for open discrimination of the LGBT community more than this foolish act.  Think about it.  How else could a small pizzeria raise almost $1,000,000 in a few days?  If you don’t realize that the best way to help your opposition is to show them that you are the enemy they believe you to be, please get off of our side of the fence.  You’re not welcome here.  You don’t represent us, and quite frankly you’re damaging our brand.  A brand that is supposed to represent empathy, equality, and above all humanity.  You are thugs.

The truth is that America is about freedom.  That freedom includes the right of a small business to express their views, even if you find them vile.  You can boycott their business, provide productive arguments about why you believe they are wrong, or you can shut the fuck up and sit on the sidelines.  World views are rarely formed with facts.  The majority of them are formed by emotion and community ties.  These ties create our confirmation bias that teaches our brains to look only for the facts that fit our narrative.  Even the most disciplined scientists will acknowledge this which is why every finding is subject to peer reviews and repeatability.  When you poke someone in the eye with your passionate conviction, you strengthen their position, and create a tighter bond with the community they identify with.

This isn’t new information by the way.  Martin Luther King Jr. taught us this fifty years ago with the civil rights movement.  The event in Selma showed whites across the country the evils of their ways and the dignity of the blacks as they persevered through tremendous adversity and violence.  Bullies never win in the end.  Dignity, integrity and advocation of others does.  So I ask everyone who reads this to do one simple act.  Condemn stupidity and ignorance when you see it, but especially when it is coming from your side.  We must demonstrate what integrity and decency looks like.  If we don’t, we might as well set up a lawn chair next to that kid with the “God Hates Fags” sign, because we are no different.