Here is a snapshot of a series of truly ridiculous things that happened in a small New England town this week, followed by an extended examination of how it represents a deep societal pathology.
In Winooski, Vermont, a small town northeast of Burlington, a restaurant was awarded a sign placement for its participation in a beautification project. Proud of its bacon (among other things, I’m sure), Sneakers Bistro chose a sign that said “Yield for Sneakers Bacon.”
A Muslim woman, fond of neither pork nor free speech, complained online, garnering a sufficient contingent of busybodies to pressure the restaurant to take down the sign.
The restaurant caved. The sign is gone. The restaurant and town officials sound very pleased at how this has all worked out.
They could not be more wrong. This story is horrible at every level. Let’s begin with our offended resident.
Religions may have whatever dietary restrictions they wish. Adherents may follow such limitations as strictly as they choose. But when a person of faith runs across a display indicative of the habits of others, there is no basis for objection.
Something truly bizarre has happened when someone sees imagery related to other people’s choices and hears an inner voice saying: “That is not my choice. But not only do I seek to make choices in my own life, I seek to inhibit the expression of those who choose differently.”
That brand of obnoxiousness must be civilly but firmly contradicted whenever it arises. In the case of the restaurant, it is not run by people who seek to correct the presumptions of local townspeople. They just want to sell food.
Perhaps this is why they folded like a cheap suit. “We are here to serve people breakfast, not politics,” they wrote in a willful online surrender. “We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community.”
Well, let’s talk about respect. Did our aggrieved resident show “respect” or “tolerance” for her fellow citizens who might want to order up a strip or two of bacon in the midst of living their own lives? Decidedly not. As such, it is not only asymmetrical to bend over to accommodate such objectors, it is patently harmful in its encouragement of such mischief.
So thumbs down to our intolerant lady and a finger-wag as well to the restaurant in its capitulation to her bullying.
What should they have said? Imagine seeing this on their Facebook page:
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