The Anti-Pizzeria Mob Loses Its Mind

Posted on April 8, 2015 by Matt Welch


Someone please tell me if my progression here is inaccurate in any way:

  1. Family owners of small-town Indiana pizzeria spend zero time or energy commenting on gay issues.
  2. TV reporter from South Bend walks inside the pizzeria to ask the owners what they think of the controversial Religious Restoration Freedom Act. Owner Crystal O’Connor responds, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no….We are a Christian establishment.” O’Connor also says—actually promises is the characterization here—that the establishment will continue to serve any gay or non-Christian person that walks through their door.
  3. The Internet explodes with insults directed at the O’Connor family and its business, including a high school girls golf coach in Indiana who tweets“Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many of the enraged critics assert, inaccurately, that Memories Pizza discriminates against gay customers.
  4. In the face of the backlash, the O’Connors close the pizzeria temporarily, and say they may never reopen, and in fact might leave the state. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor tells The Blaze. “I’m just a little guy who had a little business that I probably don’t have anymore,” Kevin O’Connor tells the A. Times.

Rod Dreher titles his useful post on this grotesque affair “Into the Christian Closet,” and it’s apt considering the progression above. If only these non-activist restaurateurs had simply kept their views to themselves when asked by a reporter, April Fool’s would have been like any other day for them.

But as it stands, they’re now being trashed not just by social-justice mobs from afar, but by powerful politicians where they live and work. Democratic State Sen. Jim Arnold represents the O’Connors’s district. This is what he said about his constituents: “The vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch that kind of activity unfold,” he said. “If that’s their stand I hope they enjoy eating their pizza because I don’t think anyone else is going to.”

Sen. Arnold says he’s upset by the news because of the negative attention it’s bringing to a town he says is a great community.

He said this kind of thinking has no place in this town. And the Religious Freedom Restoration Law is not an excuse for them to discriminate.

“This is America and if people say they’re not going to serve them and they feel this is some kind of defense, which by the way doesn’t take effect until July 1, but if they feel it’s some kind of defense, I think they’re sadly mistaken[.]”

Almost every word out of Sen. Arnold’s mouth was wrong, horrifying, or both.

  1. The O’Connors did not say “they’re not going to serve them,” they in fact stressed the opposite.
  2. The “kind of activity” that Arnold contends “the vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch” is expressing a disfavored opinion to a reporter. The pizzeria discriminated against nobody; merely said that it would choose not to serve a gay wedding if asked. Which it never, ever would be, because who asks a small-town pizzeria to cater a heterosexual wedding, let alone a gay one?
  3. This kind of thinking has no place in this town is—what’s the word?—totalitarian. Sen. Arnold is explicitly ganging up with “the vast majority” against someone guilty of thoughtcrime. This is a true statement regardless of your opinion of the underlying thought.

There is no to-be-sure paragraph about what happened yesterday. A virtual mob, acting at least partly on bogus information, gleefully trashed a business that hasn’t (to my knowledge) discriminated against a flea. After which a local pol stood up and yelled “Encore!” The good news is that a crowdfunding effort has raised/pledged nearly $50,000 to the O’Connors.

The bad news, for those of us on the suddenly victorious side of the gay marriage debate, is that too many people are acting like sore winners, not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples in the legal recognition of marriage, but seeking to use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable. That’s not persuasion, that’s force, and force tends to be the anti-persuasion among those who are on the receiving end of it.

Jonathan Rauch had a great piece for Reason two years ago about free speech and gay rights, arguing persuasively that when a minority is hopelessly outnumbered both in public opinion and in law, maximal free expression (and I would add, free association) is their most potent weapon—often, it’s all they’ve got. To fight uphill all these long decades, then get to the top, only to start wielding majoritarianism against the suddenly disfavored minority position? That’s ugly stuff.

There is another way: The Mo’Ne Davis/Joey Casselberry way, the Branch Rickey/Bobby Bragan way. Or if you don’t like baseball, the Matt Stolhandske/Klein family bakery way.

Don’t know that last story? Stolhandske is an evangelical pro-gay marriage activist who is nonetheless raising money for the Portland bakery that was fined $150,000 by the state of Oregon for refusing to work a gay wedding. Explained he: “This is what an olive branch looks like. I am not rewarding their behavior, but rather loving them in spite of it. It is time for these two communities, which both cite genuine love as our motivation, to put aside our prejudices and put down our pitchforks to clear the path for progress.”

In other words, discussion, persuasion, strategic forgiveness, tolerance. Tactics worth considering, in a year when the Supreme Court is likely to codify the culture’s amazing shift on gay marriage into law.

38 responses to “The Anti-Pizzeria Mob Loses Its Mind”

  1. Frank M. says:

    While poorly drafted and more poorly explained, the law passed was not as many in the media, including Simon Sez, "an authorization to discriminate." The Social Justice left and media redefined the law for their own purposes, untrue, like "hands up don't shoot", to have a platform to politically attack Christian conservatives. The "law" in its simple form gave people accused of discrimination who were sued privately or by Government the right to assert a very narrow "legal" defense based on their religious convictions. Period. No guarantee they wouldn't be held liable, i.e. lose the case.

    Simon's contention that the law "would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals" is a flat out misrepresentation, i.e. a lie. Apparently Simon has so little respect for his readers ability to understand the technicalities of the law that he chooses the lazy and easy way by making a statement of fact that isn't – just so he can continue his anti Christian rant. When the Willfully Ignorant readers are fooled that is just fine with him. It definitely reminds me of the successful lie told by Johnathan Gruber in orchestrating the dishonest sales pitch on Obama Care. Remember his admission that "we had to tell that story to get the bill passed?"

    The simple question here is can one group of organized citizens force another group of citizens to violate their own Constitutional rights by screaming discrimination and not allow them any legal defense?

    Because that's what happened here. If the leftists, social progressives, liberals etc. get away with this ask yourself what happens when they set their "righteous sights" on something you personally believe is one of your "rights?"

    When you buy into these Gruber like arguments you are simply, slowly but surely, abdicating your own freedoms to some vague concept of social tyranny.

    Eventually you or your kids or grandkids will wake up one morning in a country where their rights and freedoms will be defined by some faceless government bureaucrat who will make their decisions for them because we are being taught Government is Good, and Bigger Government is better.

    What they fail to tell you is bigger government is only better for those in charge of the government! Understand that by the Greater Good, what they really mean is the greater good (power) for the few (themselves).

    I'd suggest you, while you still can, study the effects of this type of big government control in other countries like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea etc. if you find a utopia there and that is the life you want I'll be happy to pay for one way transportation.

    More often than you realize this is the ice pick erosion of your basic freedoms. This is right out of Saul Alinsky's playbook, Rules for Radicals. (If you haven't read it you should). We collectively must stop and seriously question what is happening in our nation. We must stop the erosion of the freedoms granted to all of us by the Founders. That includes constitutional freedoms for gays as well as Christians.

    Say something in defense of the Bill of Rights before you can't!

  2. Jeff says:

    Bully activists supported by fool politicians lynch mom-and-pop business owners. Pray that the next president is wise enough and courageous enough to understand constitutional rights.

  3. TheLookOut says:

    The radical MSM is culpable in this, and all other divisive issues of the day.
    God help us all IF this continues.

  4. blh557 says:

    A white guy walks into a Black-owned soul food restaurant in Houston, TX and orders mustard greens. The owner refuses to serve him because he's white… THAT'S discrimination and is illegal.

    Let's say they serve him the best pot of greens he's ever had and afterward asks the owner to cater his upcoming KKK meeting. Does the owner have the right o refuse? Of course he does… unless you agree with the LGBT community, the Democrat party, President Obamao and every other liberal outlet in the US of A… or would they?

  5. We are loosing the main point of the Constitution and that is the freedom to do what our fore fathers wanted in this country..The Freedom of Choice!…if that resturant doesn't want to serve you or whatever it is you have a choice to go somewhere else. The day will come if we go after every Mom & Pop business because of whatever their beliefs the government / machine will take over and we will no longer have choices. I've been to country's like that. Quality is poor, and your choices are few and far between, everybody losses! Your dollar is your vote.

  6. Jack says:

    I'm an apolitical guy who is neither gay, lesbian or religious for that matter, I'm just a guy with money in my pocket who wants a slice of pizza… do guys like me even count anymore?

  7. P. Heere says:

    Why even mention your "preferences" in a public place or forum? Be who and what you want but you don't have to make a public issue of it. That is a choice. If asked, the best comment is "no comment".

  8. Quantella Owens says:

    Thank Goodness someone somewhere is having a RATIONAL debate about this nonsense. I suppose everybody would have just looked the other way if the pizza shop owners were asked to cater a wedding and done so and poisoned the guests, right? Or would the pizza shop owners be arrested for attempted murder and/or discrimination? I don't care about religion-I'm agnostic-and I don't care if you screw goats up the rear, but I find it very disheartening to be in a country where one groups civil liberties trumps everyone else's.
    They were asked a silly question and they answered HONESTLY based on their beliefs which they are allowed to hold, just like anyone else. They could have lied for the camera and done something more nefarious behind closed doors…and they would have avoided this whole mess. Instead we lose a business and its' associated jobs and revenue because everyone seems to have lost the ability to be rational human beings.

    • himagain says:

      Sorry Quantella, you got it wrong. They WERE allowed to hold personal views/beliefs, not any more. You are in "1984" and "Big Brother" will tell you what to think.

  9. John says:

    Welcome to Democracy-which not the rule of law, it’s the rule of the mob. And when the mob hears that someone is even thinking something that doesn’t agree with the mob mentality, they suit up in their motorcycle boots and start stomping ‘haters’; regardless of the facts in the case.

    Democracy is great. Ever see the end of the original ‘Frankenstein’ movie? Ask the monster how Democracy worked out for him.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Democracy – the rule of the mob – is AWFUL, and why the Founders created a Republic, NOT a democracy. Since the masses have been brainwashed by collectivist public miseducation, totalitarian media and parasite politicians, they are all for MAJORITY rules . . that is, until they are a minority in some way. Freedom has long been gone from Amerika, and as long as the Sovietization of things continues with govt. control/force of almost everything, we will be left with a collapsed shell of our original idea. That being said, people need to know that commenting on anything to the lying presstitutes of the media will NEVER end well. See how tolerant the liberal progressive scumbags are to those who do not share their stand on any issue – they are ravaged!

  10. Brian says:

    Let's also go back to discrimination against blacks (or even slavery which was legal under the Bill of Rights). Who is the government to tell me I can't have slaves? What about going back to discrimination against Asians, the Irish, etc. Let's forget about separation of church & state. Let's get rid of big government: 1. Social Security for everyone who counted on it, even poor Conservatives, 2) Police (just let everyone carry a gun if they want with no background checks or other safeguards; who cares if an irresponsible gun owner leaves a loaded gun where a child can easily get to it and accidentally shoot or kill someone; I know, that never happens) 3 .Limitations on abortion (yes, abortion is legal, but subject to certain limitations such as the stage of the pregnancy; why should government have any say at all?) 4. State bans against gay marriage (who is the government to tell people who can be married & who can't?) 5. Tax exempt status for special interests (why should the government favor one organization over others? Let's tax churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. no exemptions for anyone & no deductions for anyone contributing.) 6. Alternatively, let's ban taxes except for use for the military. Roads, schools, etc., who needs 'em? 7. Let's stop government intrusion into private property rights. If I want to put a pig farm on my lot next door to your house, that's my business. It's my property. (In case anyone isn't sure, this was sarcasm.)

    One thing I do agree upon is that violence or threats of violence are not appropriate responses to disagreement about issues. The person who threatened to burn down Memories pizza should be arrested. Same thing for anyone who threatens to bomb an abortion clinic. Another thing I agree on is that governments should never use dishonest sales pitches to get things done just because they must tell a story to get something done. The end doesn't necessarily justify the means (unless we're talking about alleged weapons of mass destruction as justification to overthrow an evil dictator) that story to get the bill passed.) The government should also not act in secret. They should be up front about what they are doing. They report to We the People (unless it involves selling arms to Iran in the hopes that they will help free American hostages & with proceeds going to secretly fund rebels seeking to overthrow a foreign government.) Let's also not forget that arms sent to Iran are still there and being used; they're old, but the bullets still work against innocents.

    I know that this comment is contrary to many of the beliefs of those who read this website. My intent was not to embarass or demean anyone, but simply to show that there are 2 sides to be considered. Therefore, permit me a couple of final thoughts. I believe that Robert has many valuable insights on business which I read, dare I say, religiously. He is also entitled to express his opinions on social issues and I would not seek to censor that right. However, it is important to recognize that these views are not gospel, just as the views of the "liberal media" should not be taken as such. It is important to realize that, whether liberal or conservative opposing views should not be dismissed out of hand and, unfortunately, there are enough lies to go around such that no one should be blindly believed just because they say they are liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, etc.

    I hope this post generates some introspection and constructive comment, not just vitriol to be lobbed back and forth.

    • Your post is incapable of generating introspection or constructive comments, chiefly because it is a convoluted rambling of idiocy, completely lacking in objective fact or critical thinking. You should stick to video games.

      • Brian says:

        Wow! The thinking of anyone who doesn't agree with you is idiocy.

        I merely pointed out the problem with a blanket condemnation of government and ask for consideration of how big is too big. Apparently, it's OK to give religious organizations special tax treatment, but not to use tax dollars for any purpose with which you disagree. I can't tell what your view of discrimination or civil rights is. Should the government just stay out completely? If so, then there should be no laws against gay marriage. Also, we could go back to the age of slavery. That was what existed until Big Government stepped in and passed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That's an objective fact. Other objective facts: 1) The government regulates abortion. 2) Guns don't kill people. People kill people. However, people kill with guns, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident. 3) My reference to the arms sales to Iran is 100% fact. Even President Reagan admitted that it occurred. Whether he knew about it in advance or not. and whether the cause was just or not isn't relevant to my point. It did occur (unless you are calling him a liar) and it was deception and hidden action on the part of government. 4) The allegations of weapons of mass destruction and that they were never found is also fact.

        That you can't even acknowledge my position that both liberals and conservatives have their flaws is ridiculous. No human being is right 100% of the time. That you can't even agree that threats of violence should not be tolerated, whether the threats come from liberals or conservatives is almost beyond belief. As for your final attack and thought on what I should do with my time, it doesn't justify a response as I won't stoop to insults.

  11. boundedfunction says:

    "loser edit" (episode title)

    lawyers & "divide straddling" lawyer-politicians & conservative plutos face off on this "issue", hollywoodland (amerika) style….

    how many angles can be carved into a pin's head? or "a grain of sand"? the technology keeps "improving".

    The whore and gambler, by the state
    Licensed, build that nation's fate.
    The harlot's cry from street to street
    Shall weave old England's winding-sheet.
    ~ bit o' "auguries of innocence", wm blake

  12. Real American says:

    just tell them to take it up with God. He's the one who made the law

    • Brian says:

      God also gave people free will, although I assume he hopes that people will follow his teachings. Perhaps before passing the buck to God, people should listen to what God said before they decide how to act.

      The Bible says “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”1 John 3:17. Jesus was an advocate for helping the poor, not just telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

      “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus didn't say love thy neighbour as long as he agrees with you. Otherwise, feel free to persecute him.

      Jesus said “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” Matthew 25:34-43. Again, Jesus favored us helping others, not having us tell others to take it up with God if they are mistreated.

      I'm sure that someone will quote a Bible passage which might be interpreted as saying that homosexuals are an abomination. Based on your statement to "just tell them (I assume you mean homosexuals) to take it up with God", I would say that individuals on earth should act so as to love thy neighbor on earth & not discriminate. Let God decide to punish if he deems punishment of homosexuals proper. It's not our place to do so.

  13. Real american says:

    Mark my words, here in California, soon it will be illegal to call children "girls" and "boys". They want to make it "fair" so 50% of your children must be raised gay or transgender

    • Brian says:

      When do you think it will happen? I'll bet it won't. How much would you wager? Let's decide on who will hold the money.

    • himagain says:

      Look and listen right now: the TV is educating you constantly – the Perfect Dad and Mom call the children "Guys" – no matter their sex.

      The bet is a non -starter. Isn't it???

  14. Marte says:

    A pizza place is not a public place, funded by the taxpayers. As such they should have the right to serve you or not serve you as they choose. If they don't like the color of your shirt, they should be able to say no.

    • Scott theczech says:

      Government (public capital) should not be allowed to discriminate in providing good or services. Private sector (personal capital) should be allowed to discriminate in any way it see fit!

  15. Frank says:

    The idea that there's been a massive shift in opinion regarding gay marriage is largely illusion, perpetrated by people on the "winning" side. A poll conducted in February 2015 by WPA Opinion Research shows that 53% of Americans still believe that marriage should be defined only as the union between a man and a woman. And the fact is, only 3 states so far have legalized gay marriage by voter referendum. In every other state that's legalized gay marriage, courts overruled the will of the voters. Now, what's interesting is that many gay marriage advocates say that civil rights shouldn't be decided by ballot…yet they themselves put it on the ballot in the aforementioned 3 states in 2012. So one must ask…if the votes in those states must be considered valid, shouldn't the votes in the remaining 47 states be awarded the same status?

    Or are some votes more equal than others?

    A biased press has distorted what's really going on with opinions regarding gay marriage, and the Supreme Court failed to help clarify the issue when it had a chance. Now it seems like judges rule this country instead of voters, and a minority's rights are more important than the majority's, and intolerant leftist mobs are starting to give the whole struggle the flavor of the French Revolution. This is a frightening time in this country – for anyone who truly believes in liberty and justice for ALL.

    • Miner says:

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    • Miner says:

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  16. psychicmindvandervoort231 says:

    Anecdote: My GF and I decided, mid 1960s, to go from Iowa to Nebraska to marry. Afterwards we stopped into a place for a drink that we heard had good jazz music. We seated ourselves and waited for someone to take our order. Nobody came. Ever. It was an All-Black club. We got a taste of racial discriminaton. We dodn't think it a big deal, though, and went on our way. Now it seems all mole hills have become mountains. What a time, or generation, we live in!

    • Robert Bonter says:

      Maybe we can agree that it is looney-bin, savage, predatory LAWYERS who have all the people at each other's throats now, in court. Lawyers are the scum of the earth, except for all the other scum of the earth.

  17. Miner says:

    I can't believe how many loons are on this site.

  18. Robert Bonter says:

    You know when the Christian, Conservative Right lost on this issue – when they capitulated to calling these people "Gay," instead of "homosexual," and started using the term "Gay Rights." That was it, the debate and the issue was lost, right there when the syntax was changed with the P.C. complicity of the sleep-walking Right. This is the power of Political Correctness, it disarms the opposition without a fight and beats it to a pulp in the courts.

    You don't have the guts to call a spade a spade = you get the ramrod right into your gut. So that this is not even an issue as "Gay Rights," led to "Gay Marriage," which has led us to the defrocking of selected small businesses all over the country, and with it, the default of so-called "freedom of choice," and individual rights.

    It's not even news any more, bashing Christians who stand for lifestyle morality is just a hobby to these soulless people, now. Congratulations, weaklings, you deserve your fate.

    • Jose Jackson says:

      When arguments were presented to Scotus, I knew what the decision was going to be later on. When you use as your premise we have no idea how to measure the impact if these marriages will be on society, you just lost the debate.
      Not a big fan of any marriages, but if you cant measure stuff scientifically, then its all about bias, assumptions, prejudice and bigotry. Dont have problem with that as we all are to some degree and its very difficult not to be that way.

  19. Shankar says:

    attacking the one who is against my opinion— Is this free speech. Please have mutual respect and act with compassion.

  20. himagain says:

    The first move to "modifying" the natural/accepted state/order of things, is to change the names of the target things nonsensically, vis: Poofter to Gay, (Gay???) Nogger to African-American.
    Of course, it is vital to then villify the innocent. (Like those disgusting Pig Farmers in the USA raising hairy black pigs instead of nice pink hairless ones)

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  22. Jose Jackson says:

    Henry Ford, never explain , never complain. Especially to MSM or Dems. If they dont like what you say, they will make you pay. True terrorists that need to be on the Homeland Security watch list.