Capitulation is not the answer when it comes to these neighborhood narcs. Whether they’re ratting out your kid’s lemonade stand to regulators or sniffing at your choice of fescue, or demanding local businesses remove their totally innocuous advertising, don’t give in.
BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Winooski restaurant’s decision to take down a bacon advertisement has become the center of an online backlash.
“It’s blown up beyond all imagination,” City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau said in an interview Monday.
Last week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in a post on Front Porch Forum.
“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. The woman also complained that the sign “clutters an already dangerous crosswalk.”
Sneakers owner Marc Dysinger replied that the sign was meant to be fun and to show that the restaurant cares about Winooski and the gardens, but that it had lost its “relevance” due to recent traffic changes at the rotary. He apologized for the controversy.
This person is a miserable little local dictator on a power trip and we needn’t indulge him or her in American society. The word bacon is not insensitive. There is no way it can be characterized as such. There have always been plenty of people in Burlington, Vt. who don’t eat meat or pork and yet remain admirably able to countenance the English language within their line of sight. On one hand, I have sympathy for the store owners who were trying to get out of a pickle as soon as possible, and are no doubt surrounded by PC bullies on all sides because they’re in Burlington, Vt. But they have simply emboldened such complainers in the future, whose anonymous whinging can be deployed to trump the rest of our rights— first among them the right to amply advertised bacon specials, obviously.
I’m being a bit flip, but this is actually pretty serious. If the word bacon can be deemed offensive by one person— a single member of one’s community— and thus eliminated from the public discourse, there will be plenty of other formerly innocuous words deemed the same, and then exactly how free is your speech?
Take this last moment to revel in the supreme irony of the City Manager’s lofty idea of her city compared with the reality on the ground. it is rich:
“Winooski is a diverse community, and we like it that way,” Decarreau said. “It’s uncomfortable, but discomfort can be a source of growth, not just a source of anger and frustration. I think as a community we’ll work through this. It’s unfortunate that the country seems to be reacting to reports that are blown significantly out of proportion and don’t represent what actually happened.”
Yes, encountering opposing viewpoints can be uncomfortable and lead to growth. But no one in Winooski is in any danger of encountering anything they disagree with because the aim of the community appears to be to remove even the most innocuous messages to prevent such discomfort. So, the discomfort is felt only by those who were perfectly comfortable with diversity to begin with and had the temerity to believe tolerance in a famously liberal city might extend to advertisements for pork products.
“We welcome a rich and respectful dialogue among the people that live, work and dine here,” Decarreau added in the statement. “We believe that diversity and dialogue is a critical part of what makes us a truly desirable place to be.”
No, you don’t. You welcome eliminating words from the public square because one person finds them offensive. You are left with stifled, shallow adherence to an ever-changing standard of acceptability. That is the exact opposite of rich and respectful dialogue.
And, in a somewhat related story, health experts and government officials have been preaching nonsense about salt for years. I will fight this fight to the bitter end.