What Folks in “Middle America” Call “Family Values”

Detail of FLCL episode 3, 'Marquis de Carabas'.

Okay, so, there is certainly a lot going in Indiana, but it seems worth checking in on this small point:

An Indiana pizzeria under fire for saying it would refuse to cater a gay wedding shut down on Wednesday after its owners said they received threatening messages.

However, a GoFundMe page set up for Memories Pizza in Walkerton has raised more than $40,000 in just six hours.

The pizzeria made national headlines this week when its owners called the business a “Christian establishment” and said the state’s contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow it to refuse to make pizzas for a hypothetical gay wedding.

That led to a flood of angry reviews on Yelp as well as the threatening messages.

“I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’s safe to re-open,” co-owner Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze, the news network run by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”

The fundraiser was set up by Dana Loesch of TheBlaze, and Lawrence B. Jones III, a contributor to the network.

“Nobody should ever have to suffer or suffer alone for their faith, for standing up for Christian principles,” Loesch said on her broadcast.


So you pick a fight on behalf of bigotry, and people send you money. This is the real face of “Middle America” and its “family values”.

Then again, this is Indiana, after all.

Please consider the following:

• The pizzeria has never been asked to cater a gay wedding.

• For whatever reason, the pizzeria decided to publicly announce its hostility to homosexuals.

• The ensuing fight was pretty much what they asked for. And, you know, look, it’s easy enough to denounce the assholes who vent their frustrations with violent threats in comment threads and Yelp reviews; they’re idiots. And I think Christians kind of know this, just as businesses owned by homosexuals are subject to terror threats and actual terrorism because they dared pick a fight simply by existing and we all learned long ago that Christian denunciation of such behavior would be halfhearted at best. But it is also hard to know exactly what the pizzeria owners expected that didn’t include the inevitable threats.

• We should not be surprised that the pizzeria is now closed. It is worth considering that my commentary last month about an Indianapolis bakery was actually inspired by an offhand suggestion that “they were probably going under before”. If it sounds like a crackpot conspiracy theory, that’s fine; it would be if it was actually popular. To the other, I would only point out that if this keeps happening―people picking fights and then closing their businesses because of the backlash―the crackpottery won’t look so cracked. In the end, we can set aside conspiracy theory and simply stop to consider how unsurprised we might be at the proposition that one can make a stand on behalf of bigotry and receive thousands of dollars in wellwishes and other contributions to help keep in the fight. It is true, pulling a stunt like this need not be because “they were probably going under”; rather, we might suggest a stunt like this would seem more plausible to the actors because they can reasonably hope for a crowdsourced bailout.

Think of it this way: You know, we never had a gay couple ask us to cater their wedding, but now that we have this law we think we should stand up and tell people we intend to discriminate against gay people, just in case one ever decides to ask us to cater a wedding, you know, and―hey, why y’all bein’ so mean? We didn’t do anything!

Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 1 April 2015.Look, it really sucks that people are threatening you with violence. And it’s easy enough to say that even while wondering what the hell you expected. But you’re Indiana, not Florida, and we’re gay, not black. That is to say, people are less likely to overlook the fact that you went out of your way to pick a fight.

Meanwhile, your testament is that people can expect to profit by bigotry. Be not proud. You are a symbol of the sickness haunting the American dream.


Image note: Top―”Ukulele no good.” Detail of frame from FLCL episode 3, “Marquis de Carabas”. Left―Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 1 April 2015.

Mazza, Ed. “Memories Pizza In Indiana Receives Donations After Backlash Over Gay Weddings Stance”. The Huffington Post. 2 April 2015.

Savage, Dan. “Poison Threat”. Slog. 7 January 2009.

Carter, Mike. “Man who set fire in Capitol Hill nightclub sentenced to 10 years”. The Seattle Times. 31 July 2014.

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