Memories Pizza Made $700,000 in Sympathetic Donations

Send in the pizza truthers.



The owners of Memories Pizza may have had to close down shop, and they may have had to go into hiding because of death threats, but at least they made $700,000 (so far) off sympathetic donations through Go Fund Me.

Some in the media were quick to wonder—to varying degrees of seriousness—whether this was the result of an elaborate plot on the part of the O'Connors to make some quick cash. A typical response, from Gawker:

Did the O'Connors take a principled stand? Or was their now-infamous interview part of an elaborate ruse to scam a small fortune from stupid but generous bigots and then skip town? Is there a faster way to make $500,000 in America in 2015 than by refusing to cater a hypothetical gay wedding? Only time will tell.

We'll call them pizza truthers, I guess.

But no, the O'Connors really did give their honest answers to a reporter commissioned to write a story about an anti-gay business. They probably didn't expect that their Christian-based refusal to cater a hypothetical gay wedding would result in waves of venomous criticism on Yelp. And they certainly didn't expect to ultimately profit from the experience.

While I'm sure the money is very nice, having to close (possibly forever) and put up with death threats is not. But of course, Gawker skims right over that:

The online blowback to their stupidity was immediate and overwhelming, and the pizzeria temporarily closed its doors yesterday as a response. Good!

It's not good. It's never good when people—even people you don't like, whose views you find ugly—are threatened.

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf asks whether all small restaurant businesses that hold conservative views on gay marriage (of which, he argues, there are likely many) deserve to be targeted for shaming:

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 Alvera 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.

He also wonders whether any of the people who left hateful messages on the Yelp page for Memories Pizza would have done the same to their own grandparents, many of whom likely hold similarly antiquated views on gay relationships.

The answer to that question is no, of course. And that's because we're all hypocrites when it comes to boycotts.