Sunday, August 31, 2014

Faux Winooski, Vermont Bacon "Controversy" And The Outrage Industry

This tongue in cheek sign in Winooski, Vermont
and its removal triggered another national false controversy.  
The people of the fine, funky little city of Winooski, Vermont, close to where I live, are confused these days.  

I don't blame them. A mild criticism, posted online, followed by a quiet, polite response from the business in question, has blown up into a national controversy, because there are so many people out there who aren't happy unless they are totally enraged to the point they practically want to kill somebody.

To recap, as the weekly Vermont newspaper Seven Days does: There's a restaurant in Winooski called Sneakers Bistro. It's been there forever. Very popular. And the guy who owns it, Marc Dysinger, is very involved in the community, putting in time and money to make the city, a small town really, a better place.

One of the things he does is maintain a community garden near a heavily traveled part of town. He put up a goofy sign along the road that semi-advertised his restaurant. It read: "Yield For Sneakers Bacon"

A woman who described herself as a vegan and part of a household where some Muslims live, politely objected to the sign. She wrote in a community online forum that the sign could be slightly offensive to some people who have religious or other aversions to bacon.

Maybe she was slightly oversensitive, but who cares? Dysinger, just trying to be a nice guy and figuring the sign wasn't exactly crucial to his restaurant's marketing, took the sign down.

No big deal. Nobody had made any demands, just a simple request. You can still order all the bacon you want at Sneakers Bistro. The city itself had no role in this. Anybody who lives in Winooski can still buy bacon and eat it. Nobody cares.

Certainly, pretty much nobody in Winooski even noticed this incident, much less cared about it.

But the Outrage Industry will have none of that. The Outrage Industry in this nation noticed this kindly gesture by a restaurant owner  and discovered some red meat, so to speak,  to go after.

Judging from the online vitriol all over the place, you'd think Muslim terrorists and radical vegans have the fine upstanding American citizens of Winooski in chains, and are getting ready to torture them.

Most of the comments from the Outrage Industry are full of nasty swear words and the like.

None of the comments seem to even get what this was all about. Here's one: "Stop pandering to Muslims. This is still America! WE llike our democracy served with a side of bacon!!!!"

Um, OK. Then go eat your bacon. Like I said, you can even do it in Winooski!

Dysinger took down the restaurant's Facebook page, since the Outrage Industry took it over. Before he did, he posted this totally sensible note: "We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that wa slocated on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere."

But the Outrage Industry is not going to back down and stop having its "fun" because the target of the vitriol had the gall to be reasonable. So the nasty, and illogical comments kept coming:

"Stop caving to Muslim demands. We are Americans. We need to stand for our rights."

Again, um, OK. Can someone explain to me which rights are threatened here. The woman who objected to the sign used her First Amendment rights to free speech. The restaurant owner exercised the right to advertise his business in the manner that best suited him. He obvious maintains the right to operate his restaurant. And we all have the right to go to Sneakers Bistro, or not go, and eat bacon, or not eat bacon.

The theme through all the comments against the restaurant is by taking down an innocuous, ineffective advertising sign, the restaurant owner is bowing to the demands of heathen Muslims to take away our First Amendment rights. And our bacon. And in the process somehow destroy America.

Here's another idiot comment: "Gutless spineless pukes. Anyone eating at this cesspool of a food establishment may as well join the rest of the jihadists trying to destroy the nation from within. May their faces and bodies be burned and seared with boiling bacon grease."

So the only way to save America is to plaster the entire landscape with giant signs singing the praises of bacon? (This message brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council. Not really, but the idea is fun.)

Look, all these morons having a conniption over this have the First Amendment, free speech right to do so.  Just like the proprietors of Sneakers Bistro have the right to put out a sign, or not put out a sign.

But I have the First Amendment right to call bullshit on it. Because all this is, is part of the business model for the right wing media, from Fox on down to Breitbart.

These outlets seize on what are, to be honest, nice but boring stories of neighborliness in small cities like Winooski, and turn them into dog whistle catch phrases to rile the audience. You know, Muslims were involved (they're all terrorists, if you believe the extreme right wing world) They're out to destroy America from within by taking away our bacon, or something.

All this prompts clicks on websites and comments and ignorant discussions, which are all great from the right wing media's bottom line and business plan.

And although they didn't plan it this way, the outrage generated by the right wing spills over to create stories and clickbait for the mainstream and left wing media, thereby helping their bottom line. And yes, that makes me part of the problem, if there is one, because I'm writing about this, too.

So yeah, be outraged that the restauranteur took down his sign. And be outraged that people are outraged that the retauranteur took down his sign.

Meanwhile, I think I'll just drive down to Sneaker's Bistro, and have myself a nice breakfast. One that includes bacon.

Gutless, spineless, pukes. Anyone eating at this cesspool of a food establishment may as well join the rest of the jihadists trying to destroy this nation from within. May their faces and bodies be burned and seared with boiling bacon grease!"

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