Perspectives: Pizza, bigotry, competing rights

OPINION – There is a silver lining to the cloud of controversy that has arisen over various laws seeking to protect religious freedoms. The deception that’s been foisted on us is finally becoming clear.

What was represented as a quest for inclusion and equality as little as 15 years ago has become an official pogrom to punish the unwilling.

A staff member of the family-run Memories Pizza restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana, was asked by a television reporter last week whether they would cater a same-sex wedding.

Not realizing she was being set up with a trick-bag question, Crystal O’Connor responded candidly, “If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say no.”

Within hours, the story had gone out that the pizzeria was the first establishment to announce its intentions of discriminating against gays under Indiana’s new law.

Except, that’s not at all what was said.

Memories Pizza had not contacted the media, the media contacted them. They had posted no signs in their windows nor had they tweeted any intention to discriminate.

O’Connor was merely answering a hypothetical question about whether she and her family could in good conscience cater a same-sex wedding. She and her family had clearly said they would provide regular service to anyone.

None of this mattered to anti-intolerance crusaders who immediately began hounding the family and their restaurant with vicious online attacks and threats.

The contemptible nature of the narrow-minded blitzkrieg against the O’Connors was so blatant that it backfired. A GoFundMe account started in their restaurant’s name received over $800,000 in donations within three days.

This lesson in unintended consequences so infuriated the O’Connors’ tormentors that they began filing spurious complaints of fraud and threatened to hack their GoFundMe account in order to drain it.

It’s telling that these are the actions of the so-called tolerant among us.

It was 15 years ago that those who warned the push for societal transformation was coming were told there was nothing to fear. The federal Defense of Marriage Act was in place, and 30 states had constitutional amendments affirming traditional marriage.

Most of those amendments were enacted by a clear majority of the people of those states. The will of the people had been heard, or so we were told. No need to argue about slippery slopes.

Yet, in just three years, after seizing control of the courts, the real goal is almost within reach. The Supreme Court is about to impose another one-size-fits-all solution like it did in Roe v. Wade.

Those who are close to getting what they want aren’t even waiting for it to become official before using the power of the federal government and anti-discrimination law to extinguish all dissent.

People are being sued into silence, threatened and smeared for peaceful disagreement, and forced into acceptance under the threat of losing their livelihood.

So where is that silver lining?

The actions of militant homosexual activists and their enablers are finally speaking louder than their accusations of intolerance and bigotry.

This, in turn, is turning the discussion to the issue of so-called “competing rights” which the courts claim to be addressing. Does a person’s “right” to be validated trump the rights of property ownership or of personal conscience in another?

If we are talking about actual rights rather than government-created privileges, there are no competing rights to be balanced. Our natural rights are to live and act as we choose so long as we do not cause actual harm to another person or their property.

Genuine rights do not create an enforceable duty on others to accept us or perform a service for us. We can seek to persuade others, but our natural right of association includes a corresponding right to choose not to associate with anyone for any reason.

This is why modern cultural revolutionaries are so keen on capturing the power of government to compel those who don’t agree with them to submit.

Memories Pizza wasn’t attacked for being anti-gay; they were attacked for not being supportive enough of homosexuality. They are part of a growing list of private business owners whose livelihoods are being threatened whenever they refuse to embrace newly enforceable taboos.

Bigotry is being defined downward to include simply failing to cheer enthusiastically enough for someone else’s agenda.

Persuasion and voluntary cooperation are how we authentically bridge the gaps between people. Coercion is the tool of frustrated petty tyrants.

Just remember that even genuine bigots have property rights and freedom of association that neither we nor the state can rightly violate. Also, anything that rises fast tends to fall fast.

That’s the nature of fads.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • Lastdays April 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    The most amazing part of this pizzeria story is how it started in the first place. Here is a young girl with no training in speaking with reporters and how to conduct yourself when doing so. She gives a completely hypothetical comment to a situation that may or may not even happen at their store or any other pizzeria for that matter. Then, her and her family are attacked for some harmless comment to a reporters questions who was hoping and planning for an answer like this.
    A gay couple being denied pizza at their reception NEVER happened. Have the limits of our free speech hit a roadblock? What kind of a country will we have if people are no longer able to speak their mind ? We are already in danger of physical harm or having our home or business burned down because we said the wrong thing. Or the speech police are right there to arrest and jail you because you uttered something that is not of the correct PC agenda. Only after being fired from your job first and then banished from the neighborhood because you dared to speak your mind. These are dangerous times if that’s where we are heading.

  • sagemoon April 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    “Bigotry is being defined downward to include simply failing to cheer enthusiastically enough for someone else’s agenda.” Ain’t that the truth.

  • Brian April 6, 2015 at 11:03 am

    You seem to be conveniently forgetting that the Constitution GUARANTEES the RIGHT to a wedding cake and wedding pizza from the specific company of your choice. It’s perfectly spelled out in plain English. It’s not enough that there are 50 other places you could get catering for your gay wedding. It’s your RIGHT to demand it from a specific company.

    • laytonian April 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Bryan Hyde again, huh? Throwing out words like “pogom”. I can play that game, also. Bigot. There.
      The CORRECT answer that Ms O’Connor should have given was: “We do not cater”.

      NOW, thanks to these clueless people, the Indiana law has been changed to remove the “business clause” (Section 9) that was NEVER in any other state’s RFRA law. It wasn’t in the Federal law (LIARS!) and it’s not in Utah’s.

      Plus, they’ve had almost a million dollars thrown at them for their ignorance. Now, they can reopen their business, start applying a test before their delivery truck driver performs his duties, and they’ll be happy.

      • laytonian April 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        ….and by the way, Brian:

        That “wedding cake” couple y’all keep trotting out as “victims” of “an agenda”?
        You truly believe they were Christians? Really?

        HERE is what Aaron Klein posted on the Facebook page of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. THESE are the kinds of people you’re cheering on? Racist, vulgar, bigots who claim to be Christians?

        Bryan Hyde, Brian, SageMoon and LastDays — I know you’ve been informed about the above before. Why do you keep repeating the lies about persecuted Christians?

        • sagemoon April 7, 2015 at 8:33 am

          Huh? What did my comment have to do with religion? I would like to see people just leave each other alone. An opinion is just an opinion. Any business should have the right to refuse service to anyone and should not have to justify their decision.

  • BIG GUY April 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Bryan is 100% on target with this opinion piece. Good show!

  • anna April 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    While I respect the rights of others, what would have happened if this business had said that they won’t cater the wedding of an interracial couple ? What about a couple who had been living together ? A couple who had each been divorced previously ? Would outrage at the business be okay then ?
    If you refuse one person services based solely on their personal life then what’s to say you won’t do it for everyone who is different then you? Is this business planning on questioning all their customers to make sure that the customers are living a life that the business approves of ? Sell pizza if that is your business and stay out of people’s personal lives, or find another way to make a living.

  • Lastdays April 6, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I’m not cheering on for anyone in particular, I’m for anyone and EVERYONE who wants to speak their mind whatever that may be.
    For instance, there is an absurd, sick, twisted group of people that call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church that like to picket and protest soldiers funerals, and other activities too.
    As wrong as that may be, or what I consider as wrong, They have the right to do that. If I lobby for a law to stop that, the next thing that will happen is a law will be in place against me for whatever I like to speak out against or speak loudly in disagreement of.
    Boo hoo that somebody may hear something that offends them. I’m to the point that I am now extremely offended by people who claim they are offended.
    Get over it! If we keep going this route, we will have prisons full of people who said the wrong thing or people walking around with no tongues so they won’t say the wrong thing ever again.

  • Allie April 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    This “religious freedom” thing has gotten WAY out of hand. First of all, religious freedom gives everyone the right to worship any religion they choose, in any way they choose (within the law). If you want to practice Voodoo, it’s ok, Wicken, that’s good too. If you don’t want to believe in any religion, you are free to do so. What those religions teach or believe cannot be forced on to the general public. Secondly, there is separation of church and state. The state issues a business license to restaurants, clothing stores etc. That license gives the owner the right to operate his business. They can choose to turn away people from a restaurant for not wearing proper attire if posted. But, they cannot pick and choose who their clientele because their Bible said it is wrong. How many versions of the Bible are there and how do we know which one is right? What if a Kosher Jewish deli would not serve Christians because they are not Kosher? Lastly, for those who claim to be true Christians, when Christ died on the cross, did he look down and leave you in charge? No one on this earth knows the real truth. We’ll have to wait until the end, and the final answer is up to just one entity. In the meantime, believe what you want, but don’t beat others over the head with it just because it isn’t your cup of tea.

    • BIG GUY April 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      This “looking around to find someone who objects to same sex marriage and then making a national example of them” thing has gotten WAY out of hand. How about some counter examples.

      The pizza shop owners weren’t “forcing their religion” on anyone. There are plenty of other pizza shops who would gladly take the business, just as there are plenty of restaurants who will take people in tank tops and flip flops while some “upscale” restaurants won’t.

      Would you send an employee to a voodoo or Wicken gathering at night to provide a service? Many business owners would not. Are they bigots?

      If I cannot order a BLT at either a Jewish deli or Muslim restaurant, is that because the owners are trying to force their religious beliefs on me? If a Catholic restaurant owner only served fish entrees on Fridays, does that make him/her a bigot?

      Should a Muslim clothing store owner be required to stock women’s clothes that offend him? Is he trying to force his religion on women?

      In every case above and dozens like them, I have a choice of many businesses. Looking around for one whose practices I dislike and then turning the owners into an example, raining down hate mail and publically vilifying them, is hate and bigotry of the first order.

      A war on religion is being waged by those with a “religion” of their own: the political correctness of the day. Remember, Obama voted for a virtually identical law in Illinois in 1993 and was opposed to same sex marriage until 2012 when it became politically expedient to switch sides. A man of firm convictions.

      • anyonemouse April 12, 2015 at 3:46 am

        Big Guy, Your post (as usual) is very insightful. Thank you for broadening my perspective on the subject.

  • fun bag April 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    mmmmmmm that photo made me hungry

    • Free Parking April 6, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      That photo reminds me that it’s time to feed the goldfish

  • ladybugavenger April 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I will totally eat pizza made by a gay person! That will not stop me from eating pizza, just sayin’… I want some pepporoni pizza!

    • ladybugavenger April 6, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      But I won’t go to your wedding….hypocrite? ???? should I stop eating fast food?

    • Free Parking April 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      Wow its about time they have an article about pizza

      • ladybugavenger April 6, 2015 at 9:32 pm

        Its a break from car accidents and attempted vehicle manslaughter ( oh wait she allegedly tried to run over a lawyer, I think that’s a lesser charge) anyways, I should order a pizza.

    • sagemoon April 7, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I had pizza for dinner last night. I don’t know who made it. I didn’t ask the kid who delivered if he was gay or straight, what his religion was, nor did I take a close look at this race/ethnicity. I just wanted my dang pizza. The staff at the pizza place treated me well and that is all I need: mutual respect and staying out of each others’ business.

  • mmsandie April 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I would think businesses today want business, and not ask personal questions.. I have worked with gays, lesbians , transgendered etc, and not judged the, anyway differently. I think there is more opens today about this issue than years ago, but I know people who began gay or lesbians after being normal for years, having familes, and either from a jilted situation or comforted by someone of the same saws.. Became a member of the opposition.

    • AnotherReader April 6, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hold on there @Sandie, “after being Normal for years” you say. What does that imply about them now?? That is exactly what this whole … mess is about today, about wanting all things gay to just be considered all things NORMAL; nothing out of the ordinary. Not an alternative lifestyle, just plain old normal. It will soon be the straight, monogamous, faith-believers who will then be considered ABNORMAL. That day is soon to arrive.
      Ed. ellipsis

      • ladybugavenger April 6, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        That day will be real soon, that our man and women marriages will be considered abnormal and we will be referred to as opposite sex marriage and looked at with disgust. The time is coming.

  • Roy J April 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    There is an obvious difference between being paid to be present and participate in an event that is odious to someone and being paid for goods to be used or consumed at the same event. It’s as clear as dammit that somebody who runs a catering service has the basic human right to refuse service to a porn festival.

    • mesaman April 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you, Roy, your point presents the crux of this matter.

  • Free Parking April 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I prefer the thin crust pizza I always order the extra sausage and cheese

  • KarenS April 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    As usual, we can trust that Bryan Hyde will choose the most sensational aspect of a story and use it to promote who knows what. The whole “pizza place catering” story is just a side show of careless journalism. Mr. Hyde does not help matters by using the phrase “militant homosexual activists and their enablers”, a phrase that does not represent the vast majority of the gay community. Luckily the younger generation is teaching us about diversity and acceptance. And people seem to be listening more to them than the shrill voices on either side.

  • maggie April 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I guess I am the odd one here. When I enter a Pizza shop for Pizza no one ever asked me if I am a lesbian or did I ever ? their sexual preferences. Perhaps that is not normal but it works for me and most businesses I deal with.
    However there is a bit of a difference with some other transactions. If I had a bakery and someone wanted two guys or two gals on top of their wedding cake I would assume they were gay and I may not want to participate in the celebration due to my religious convictions. However if some one asked me to bake a cake and write on it “I hate queers” my religious convictions would not allow me to do that either. I am thinking small business owners are out of luck in this new environment.
    Perhaps we should all do our own weddings,or skip the weddings altogether. I cannot even believe any of us are even having this discussion. 7 year olds on a playground are more intelligent. The other day I actually heard one say” I don’t want to play that,but you go ahead”. Seriously ,we all do not have to believe the same things and do the same things . It is ok to say no and move on w/o someone being wrong or going to jail.

  • fun bag April 6, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Seems like feedin’ a goldfish pizza might be the wrong thing to do, but I aint no expert on such a matter.

    • Free Parking April 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

      No you don’t feed pizza to the goldfish gee whiz….. The goldfish goes ON THE PIZZA

  • ladybugavenger April 6, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I like pan pizza with pepperoni and pineapple with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top and every bite dipped in marinara sauce 🙂

  • NotSoFast April 7, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I would have politely said to the male stud couple,,,
    The next time you come into my shop to get a doughnut, wipe your damn feet, will ya? You want a celebration pizza delivered where? Got it. Do you want one of our Viagra sprinkled specials? Only $150 dollars more? What? You don’t like our prices? Then why don’t you go over to that closet across the street owned by Peewee Herman and have him make you a love paddy pizza. Or make the … thing yourself.
    Ed. ellipsis.

    • Free Parking April 8, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Ha ha you got edited. na na na na na na na

  • Free Parking April 7, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I should get a cab and go to Hurrikun and order a pizza and get the bulls penis and join the FLDS cult and run over a lawyer then drive a van off the side of the mountain. then run a couple of stop signs and then a few red lights get some meth and take up vacuum pipe defense classes. and go around a take people’s bread from them when they ain’t lookin get a hair cut and run for city council…

  • fun bag April 7, 2015 at 9:59 pm


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