Fellow liberals: Don’t harass the bigots, please.
Ugh, the Indiana pizzeria that tried to drum up some business and attention for itself by bleating about its suddenly discovered “no gays” policy is in the martyr stage of the wingnut news cycle. You know the cycle: 1) Say something horribly bigoted and offensive. 2) Watch people express outrage. 3) Whine about how oppressed you are and how your free speech is being taken away by other people speaking out about you. The problem is this time they actually have a hook:
According to Fox, the restaurant owner, Kevin O’Connor, said that Memories was inundated with phone calls following news reports on his family’s views on same-sex marriage. O’Connor could not decipher which calls were made to place real orders and which were not, pushing him to close the pizzeria. He told Fox that he was unsure whether he would reopen.
“Because I don’t believe in something they want, they see fit to be angry about it,” O’Connor said about the backlash over his beliefs. “It’s really confusing to me. I’m just a little guy in a little tiny town. That’s where I’ve been all my life. It’s just been ugly. I don’t know what to call it.”
Of course, there’s always a chance he’s lying. God knows that the right has fully embraced the idea that lying for the cause is acceptable behavior. But, in this case, I believe that they probably are getting harassed. I’ve been doing this work too long to believe that liberals are immune from using a good cause as a cover for shitty behavior.
To those liberals, I must beg of you: Don’t do this. As you can see from the self-important preening of this asshole, bigots cannot wait to play the victim. Don’t give them legitimate cause. Just as with the people sending glitter bombs to anti-choicers. Yes, it’s funny watching a bunch of people who would literally force you to give birth against your will whine because they have glitter in the carpet. But these folks are dying for any angle they can get to play the victim. If they can get the tiniest toe hold to claim that your actions extend beyond free speech into harassment and attempt to cause material harm, they are going to grab it and hang on for dear life. So don’t.
That does not mean you can’t engage in some fun mockery and even outright trolling, should that be where your heart takes you. There’s all sorts of things you can do:
- Talk shit about them online. Quoting them directly is often enough to make your point.
- Make funny videos making fun of them.
- Go to their Yelp page and alert would-be customers of their views. Feel free to use humor while doing so.
- Write a song, using the music from Cats, to write a song about how Memories is a shitty pizzeria that makes bigot pies. This will have the side benefit of shitting on the worst musical of all time.
But these are the lines you should not cross:
- Saying bigoted things yourself in an attempt to discredit them. When you make fat jokes or gay-baiting jokes, fat and gay people who are utterly innocent get caught in your crossfire. Making fun of that lady’s hair is probably just on this side of in-bounds, but really you should try to avoid a cheap shot like that.*
- Violent rhetoric.
- Harassment. The line between harassment and speaking out may seem difficult to define, but a general rule of thumb is that if you’re trying to deluge someone or trying to force them to listen to you, you have crossed the line. Phone calling, then, is always harassment, because, as noted, you can’t know who is calling unless you engage them. It’s coercive. You have a right to speak out, but they have a right to ignore you if they want. Don’t try to get around that.
Believe me, I get where you’re coming from. You hate these pizzeria dipshits. You should! They are hateful, mean-spirited bigots who try, badly, to conceal their hate with sanctimonious blather. Hate away. Fuck those assholes.
But don’t harass them. Not only is it not right, but it gives these sanctimonious fuckwits an opportunity to preen about how they’re the real victims. Don’t fuel their bullshit.
*Because of some of the butthurt portions of the Pandagon audience, I know that the fedora question is going to come up. And the answer is, sorry, dudes, but making fun of your fedora is always in-bounds. Your fedora isn’t just in bad taste, but it’s got a certain pretentiousness to it that is part of the larger douchebag package. Making fun of clothes is always in-bounds if there’s relevance, and fedoras invoke the smug douchebag in exactly the same way that the lumberjack look invokes the hipster who is a bit over-worried that he isn’t manly enough, so he grows a beard. But this woman’s anti-gay attitudes and her shitty haircut have no association that I can see.