The online threats haven’t stopped since Crystal O’Connor told a South Bend TV station that she wouldn’t cater a gay wedding. In fact, the ugliness has gotten so bad, that the family has gone into hiding.
A northern Indiana pizza shop that came under fire after its owners said their religious beliefs wouldn’t allow them to cater a gay wedding is closed indefinitely, and its operators say they’ve gone into hiding.
Memories Pizza in Walkerton faced criticism this week after co-owner Crystal O’Connor expressed support for a new Indiana religious objections law. The Facebook and Yelp pages for the restaurant about 20 miles southwest of South Bend were bombarded with negative reviews.
A coach of a high school golf program was suspended after a Twitter post that mentioned going to Walkerton and burning down the restaurant.
WNDU-TV reports that O’Connor and her family are considering leaving town.
A ray of sunshine for the O’Connors through this dark night: the GoFundMe account set up on their behalf, with an original goal of raising $200,000, is now over $840,000 and climbing.
Conor Friedersdorf, writing in the Atlantic, asks “Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed?”:
What do white evangelicals, Muslims, Mormons, blacks, conservative Republicans, and immigrants from Africa, South America, and Central America all have in common? They’re less likely to support gay marriage than the average Californian. Over the years, I’ve patronized restaurants owned by members of all those groups. Today, if I went out into Greater Los Angeles and chatted up owners of mom-and-pop restaurants, I’d sooner or later find one who would decline to cater a gay wedding. The owners might be members of Rick Warren’s church in Orange County. Or a family of immigrants in Little Ethiopia or on Olvera Street. Or a single black man or woman in Carson or Inglewood or El Segundo.
Should we destroy their livelihoods?
If I recorded audio proving their intent to discriminate against a hypothetical catering client and I gave the audio to you, would you post it on the Internet and encourage the general public to boycott, write nasty reviews, and drive them out of business, causing them to lay off their staff, lose their life savings, and hope for other work? If that fate befell a Mormon father with five kids or a childless Persian couple in their fifties or a Hispanic woman who sunk her nest egg into a pupusa truck, should that, do you think, be considered a victory for the gay-rights movement?
Before this week, I’d have guessed that few people would’ve considered that a victory for social justice. And I’d have thought that vast majorities see an important distinction between a business turning away gay patrons—which would certainly prompt me to boycott—and declining to cater a gay wedding. I see key distinctions despite wishing everyone would celebrate gay marriage and believing Jesus himself would have no problem with a baker or cook acting as a gay-wedding vendor. A restaurant that turned away all gay patrons would be banning them from a public accommodation every day of their lives. It might unpredictably or regularly affect their ability to meet a business client or dine with coworkers or friends. It would have only the most dubious connection to religious belief.
Whereas declining to cater a gay wedding affects people on one day of their life at most, denies them access to no public accommodation, and would seem to signal discomfort with the institution of same-sex marriage more than animus toward gay people (so long as we’re still talking about businesses that gladly serve gays).
It’s not that the left and gay activists can’t see the distinction. It’s that they refuse to acknowledge the difference for political reasons. Since tolerating dissent would mean less than a total victory for their pet cause, we must all think alike — absolute domination or nothing.
The backlash isn’t fazing them a bit. If anything, their hate has become more exaggerated and more hysterical as commentators like Friedersdorf calmly, rationally point out their radical extremism. The army of Fascists who have attacked the O’Connors — and anyone who remotely agrees with them — won’t stop. Shaming them does little good, as they have no shame. Reasoning with them is useless because they lack the ability to reason.
The taste of power that this Fascist collective has gotten in recent years, destroying those who displease them for any reason, is like a drug. Soon, the pizzeria victims will fade from view and the leftist cadres will have to find another target. It hardly matters who is in the crosshairs, only that someone with an unpopular or politically incorrect thought is railroaded.
Aided and abetted by a media eager to fan the flames of controversy, real people’s lives are being destroyed. The O’Connors were lucky that their friends on the right stepped in and intervened on their behalf. But many who are guilty of thought crimes usually don’t fare as well. Perhaps more unity on the right and a willingness to stand up to the bullies is what will even the playing field and save those who run afoul of the New McCarthyites.