Gay Pizza As Culture War, Morality Play, Inelegant Sign of the Changing Times

Gay Pizza As Culture War, Morality Play, Inelegant Sign of the Changing Times

 

The byzantine saga of Memories Pizza - those brave Christians in Walkerton, Indiana who proclaimed their newly-enshrined religious freedom to not offer their (reportedly terrible) pizza to weddings of gay people not exactly pounding down their door asking them to anyway - lurches on, even as a cultural maelstrom they don't quite seem to get continues to swirl around them.

Memories, by all accounts "a dirty dive of a joint" serving "hillbilly pizza" between "WhoGivesASh!t and AintNobodyGahtTime4Dat in Nowhere, USA" is owned by the O'Connor family; they support the state's new so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act and told local media they would refuse to cater a same-sex wedding because of their religious beliefs. Said daughter Crystal O'Connor, "We're not discriminating against anyone - that's just our belief, and anyone has a right to believe in anything." (Cue Yelp review: "I believe this pizza is not very tasty.") The O'Connors' proudly "Christian establishment" boasts many crosses, a "Glorify the Lord" sign, and another explaining, "Every day before we open the store, we gather and pray together...If there is something you would like us to pray for, just write it down." (Cue another review: "Maybe they should pray for tolerance and acceptance.")

The backlash was swift and brutal. The media excoriated them. They were flooded with so many fake orders, alleged threats, savage reviews and lewd trolling they closed down. On Yelp, their reviews swelled from two to almost 2,000, with photos posted of dick-shaped pizzas, pizza-hawking Hitlers, hot guys humping and a sometimes pornographic Jesus. Insults began with the pizza - "God-awful...tastes like carpet/cardboard/dirty socks" - and went from there:  "A great place for awful people...The pizza was sub par but I really came for the hate...Would give it 6 stars but I can't count that high...What a great name - it brings back memories of a better America, (of) the glory days when a righteous God fearing white man didn't have to serve food to niggers, Jews, spics, gooks, Catholics (or) ALL PEOPLE who aren't God's chosen people...Romans 2:1: You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself." Gay commentators added they'd "rather be ripped apart by wild dogs" than serve pizza - especially when made by bigots - at their hard-fought-for weddings.

There's also been backlash to the backlash. Some have questioned the incivility of a debate in which both sides sound pretty damn intolerant, or wondered if hurling insults at the ignorant is the best way to change minds, or suggested that progressive forces should focus their rage at unjust marriage laws - there are still many - rather than "a powerless cultural minority's....objectionable behavior in a tiny niche of the economy," arguing their virulent scorn may reflect political opportunism and "humanity's love of bandwagons" as much as support for gay rights. The polarizing effect of the uproar was clearly reflected in the wild success of a crowdfunding campaign to save the O'Connors from "strangers (who) sought to destroy them." Their initial goal was $25,000; to date, they have raised over $325,000. Memories owner Kevin O'Connor, meanwhile, seems befuddled by it all. He told Fox News, "I'm just a little guy in a little tiny town....Because I don't believe in something that they want, they see fit to be angry about it. It's really confusing to me." One commentator said it best: "May God, however you understand Him, have mercy on you."

Update: The total raised has now soared to over $500,000. Jesus must really like pizza.

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