Yielding For Bacon [Critics]: Vermont Diner Takes Down Sign After Woman Objects To The Reference To Bacon

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 9.04.11 AMThere is an interesting controversy out of Winooski, Vermont over a sign for Sneakers diner. As part of a city program, Sneakers helped beautify its street with flower beds and in return was allowed to put up a sign. The diner featured its favorite dish with a sign that read: “Yield For Sneakers Bacon.” However, a Muslim woman who was also a vegan objected that a sign with the word bacon was offensive to her due to her religion’s ban on eating pork products. The diner responded by immediately taking down the sign and personally apologizing to the woman. That accommodation has led to a backlash from others who feel that the diner is yielding to ultra-sensitive individuals and encouraging such demands from others who may be offended by any number of food references and dishes.

The woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” made a complaint that called the sign offensive and that led owner Sneakers owner Marc Dysinger to take the corrective action.

It is not clear if the objection was motivated by the woman being a vegan or a Muslim. Regardless of whether this objection was from the perspective of a Muslim or a vegan or a Muslim vegan, there remains the question of whether there can be too much accommodation of such views. While tolerance is greatly (and correctly) valued in our society, there is a countervailing concern over a type of self-censorship where words and signs are increasingly eliminated to satisfy every sensitive group or individual. On a large scale, the Redskins debate has focused on this issue when a board ruled that it did not matter if a small group found a name offensive to be stripped of its trademark protections. The question is whether, despite our desire to protect values of pluralism and tolerance, we also have to protect pluralism in free speech and to resist pressure for common denominators in messages that remove every term or phrase deemed offensive to someone. There is a tendency in a tolerant society to say simply “well, what is the problem? If something hurts someone’s feelings, just change it.” However, in our world of mass communications and messaging, most messages could be deemed to have offensive elements. It requires judgment and certainly creates the danger that you will be viewed as intolerant. However, a reference to bacon — even “yielding” to bacon — would seem to all into a category of unoffensive speech by any objective standard.

This is obviously just a single small sign of a small diner in a small town. However, it is an interesting context to explore the limits of accommodation in speech and the dangers that it presents to the free exchange of ideas, tastes, and viewpoints. We have seen a comprehensive crackdown on the West on free speech under some laws combating hate speech, discriminatory speech, and even disruptive speech. While the first amendment only deals with government action, we have to be concerned about the chilling effect of private action over speech. For example, we have discussed the controversy involving Yale University Press. 413hBzCMe0L._SL500_AA240_In a shocking decision, Yale University Press published Jytte Klausen’s “The Cartoons That Shook the World” (on the cartoons that led to riots and over 200 killed in protests worldwide). However, Yale removed the the 12 cartoons from the book so not to insult Muslims. Thus, you could read the book but not actually see the cartoons themselves. It was a decision by Yale University Press that is still discussed as anti-intellectual and cowardly in academic circles.

It is unclear how this person in Vermont goes through life surrounded by pictures of pork, including advertisements. The appearance left by these stories is someone who sees bacon in a sign that then stews (presumably vegan stew) for hours and days over the reference. A better lesson for her might have been for the owner to politely say that the sign was not meant to insult her but that she should consider whether she is overly sensitive as a person living in a pluralistic society with many different views and tastes. Tolerance includes the ability to walk through society and understand that you will be exposed to the expression of many things that you might not like. However, we protect your right to live your life as you choose. That does not grant the additional expectation that others will conform to your preferences in their own speech or expressions. It is hard to say that the diner should not have taken down the sign since it seemed to care little about the content of the sign. Yet, the action reinforces a view that businesses and people should yield to such objections regardless of their objective merit.

We cannot have a society where terms, words, and expressions are banished by any objection of any group. That course will drain away the vitality, diversity, and spontaneity of speech in our society. It requires not an act of intolerance but a commitment that there must be tolerance of speech and images in a pluralistic society.

What do you think?

Source: WPTZ

189 thoughts on “Yielding For Bacon [Critics]: Vermont Diner Takes Down Sign After Woman Objects To The Reference To Bacon”

  1. Paul, “bettykath – fighting a war is a young man’s game. At 35 you are too old to fight, generally.”

    Exactly my point.

  2. How’s that War on the Second Amendment going? That poor little girl will be traumatized for life and the idiot gun instructor is dead.

  3. Fiver there is another war the right is pushing lately, The War on Christianity. Another faux war along with The War on White People, The War on Christmas. Faux News needs their faux wars to keep the viewers happy.

  4. david,

    Who is it that has been prohibited from “[embracing] a standard of sexual morality”? Is she single? Does she have a sister?

    The range of items you’ve given is all over the place, but I’ll try some rough categorical answers. The examples regarding religious speech in government aren’t restrictions on speech so much as restrictions on government. Nothing prevents the principal from saying a lunch prayer, but saying that prayer in front of the children is different. You might not think that’s a big deal, but what if that principal rolls out a prayer mat in the front of the students, faces Mecca, and begins prayer in Arabic? Think some folks might have some issues?

    As far as the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, which Ten Commandments are we talking about? The Catholic version or one of the Protestants ones? Who made that decision? Why? If I’m Catholic and I’m reading “thou shalt not murder,” should I feel confident against my Protestant opponent? Should I check out the judge’s religion? Should I worry at all?

    What if I’m a Hindu, Buddhist or atheist?

    Why is the monument there in the first place? It’s not like the courthouse is only place to put it. How about some other place like a church or on a family’s mantlepiece? The Ten Commandments are not being censored; the courthouse is.

    As far as bakers being forced to bake for black gay people and florists being forced to arrange for Catholic gay people, we’ve had this same discussion long ago and most people have moved beyond it. It’s simple: if you want to open a business to the public, your White’s Only No Queers drinking fountain might cause some problems. If you don’t like public accommodation laws, don’t open to the public. But if you do, black gay people get to eat at your restaurant and sleep in your hotel.

    As for the other examples on the laundry list, I either haven’t seen evidence those governmental restrictions exist (e.g. “bless you”), I agree with you [e.g. kid drawing a gun (right wing? huh?)] or I simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

    1. fiver wrote: “Nothing prevents the principal from saying a lunch prayer, but saying that prayer in front of the children is different.”

      About five or six years ago, the ACLU intimidated a school board in Florida into signing a consent decree in order to avoid defending itself in a lawsuit claiming that the public school was too religious. One day, principal of Pace High School Frank Lay asked the athletic director Robert Freeman to pray over lunch, not in a student function, but rather at a football boosters meeting. That prayer led to criminal contempt charges being filed against Lay and Freeman for breaking the consent decree. Part of that consent decree also included not being able to say “God bless you” at school functions, nor could anyone working for the school, whether teacher or janitor, bow their heads or fold their hands, or take any posture that might be interpreted that they might be praying. Lay and Freeman were facing possible jail time, something Christians found unfathomable, so thousands showed up at the courthouse in Pensacola on the day of his trial. The ACLU failed to prove that Lay and Freeman WILLFULLY violated the consent decree, so they were found not guilty. A subsequent lawsuit filed against the ACLU led to changing the consent decree a few years later.

      fiver wrote: “… what if that principal rolls out a prayer mat in the front of the students, faces Mecca, and begins prayer in Arabic? Think some folks might have some issues?”

      Maybe some will have issues about it, but so what. That’s their problem. The First Amendment is about religious freedom, and principals do not shed their Constitutionally protected rights when they walk into school. Our government should not favor one religion over another, nor should it favor secularism over theism. Both philosophies should be allowed to express their views equally.

      fiver wrote: “… which Ten Commandments are we talking about?”

      It doesn’t matter. The monument can contain quotations from Blackstone’s legal commentaries, or the Declaration of Independence, or Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail like Justice Roy Moore’s monument that was ordered to be put into a closet. A nation like ours should love freedom of speech and not be so restrictive of the types of monuments it erects.

      Have you ever been to Montgomery Alabama where Justice Moore’s Ten Commandments monument was placed? They have monuments all over the place! They have civil rights monuments, confederate war monuments, even Bill Clinton’s named is etched in the cornerstone of the federal courthouse where Judge Myron Thompson ordered the Ten Commandments to be removed. Outside that courthouse is a statue of a Greek goddess! But the Ten Commandments surrounded by other historical writings was ruled inappropriate. Such does not represent freedom of religion and speech.

      In regards to “bless you,” there was a recent situation out of Tennessee where high school student Kendra Turner was suspended for saying “bless you” to another student who had sneezed.


  5. Maybe if 35 year olds had to go to war some in the congress would reconsider their votes well might have but the congress is getting older, youngest now 41. closed the info page sry no click)

  6. I also agree with the Superintendent.

    “However, this situation in Ferguson-Florissant has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown,” he says.

    The facts are not known and it would be emotional speculation that would be happening. No one knows exactly what happened at this point. People would not be ‘discussing’ they would be arguing and likely yelling back and forth. Not productive at all.

    “He says teachers have been told not to discuss it and if students bring it up, they should change the subject”

    Yes. They should change the subject. If the class is Math or English Lit. ro any other subject, there is no reason to discuss anything but the subject at hand IN the classroom. The teacher is there to teach a topic. The students are there to learn THAT topic and not side track the learning experience of everyone else. This is how teachers lose total control of the classroom.

    What the kids discuss outside of the classroom is none of the school’s business either. The kids can express their feelings all they want in the appropriate time and place. If people are concerned about it, set up a special meeting at a non school location and discuss all night.

  7. leej, I agree, My wise mother would always say, “Better out than in” when one of her 4 kids would rant.

  8. leejcaroll – I agree whole-heartedly with the Superintendent. That is a logical, measured decision.

  9. This is from the article: Superintendent Ed Hightower says normally there would be an open discussion of current events.

    “However, this situation in Ferguson-Florissant has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown,” he says.

    He says teachers have been told not to discuss it and if students bring it up, they should change the subject

    So the kids cannot even bring it up or they will be shut down immediately. Usually schools will bring in counselors to help kids deal with these kinds of situations but, no, these kids can’t even express their feelings about it.
    Lock u p the feelings, say you can’t talk about that and it ends up coming out ni other ways including acting out

  10. Paul, Let me try again, an 18 year old sometimes uses the military for college education or as a place holder while s/he figures out what to do with his/her life. They aren’t thinking about going to war. BUT when they reach 35, they will think about what it means to be in the military and the consequences of war. The 35 year old is much more likely to object to going to war.

    1. bettykath – fighting a war is a young man’s game. At 35 you are too old to fight, generally.

    2. Nick – St. Patty’s Day is for amateur Protestants who do not know how to drink. Same with Cinco de Mayo, which is not a holiday in Mexico, but is the US were non-Mexicans get drunk.

  11. Come to some of my maternal side reunions, weddings, funerals, Christmas functions. Wear a helmet.

    1. leejcaroll – if the discussion is actually a discussion I can see the point of the school backing away from it. When I taught speech, by experience I had to take a few topics off the table at the beginning. The discussions were too emotional and heated.

  12. Dust bunny yes I said it because that was what the court said. it is not my original thinking on the issue But yes I agree with it. As a Jew by birth but Christian in my faith I see the rise of anti Semitism and disdain, to put it in a nicer word, esp for Islam, and other religions but Christianity as a real threat, if you listen to how many politicians and their followers chant “this is a Christian country” and we need to abide by “Christian” values it is worrysome.

    Satanists and atheists have put up monuments/fighting to have their monuments since that is a part of freedom of religion and the state not promotinig one over another, or none over one.

    “It’s very inviting,” said his friend, Maria, a nurse who did not want to give her last name because she said she was afraid of retaliation from Christians. “It’s hands on, to include people rather than exclude.”

    Chad Reddish, who is from Starke, was not so enthusiastic.

    “This is something we thought we would never experience in a small town,” he said. “It points out how many people don’t believe in God, and have different opinions.”
    As though different opinions and being an atheists is wrong. Sad.

    Brady Henderson, legal director of the Oklahoma ACLU, told FoxNews.com. “One of the concerns is that even if you allow all faiths to place something in a public area, it quickly becomes a farce.”

    Henderson cited an incident at the Florida State House, in which the local government decided to allow all faiths to place holiday decorations in the Statehouse rotunda next to a manger scene.

    “What happened is that you had someone placing a festivus pole made out of beer cans and one group placing a pile of spaghetti on top of a chair,” he said. “So these types of things do nothing to uplift people’s faiths and beliefs. There’s nothing served by belittling them.”

  13. Darren, A 21 year drinking age and an 18 year send-them-to-war age really isn’t right. I propose the age for going to war be changed to 21, or, better yet, to 35. With the age raised to 35 there will be more people opposed to war for oil or hememony or whatever else the 1% decides is more important than the lives of young people.

    1. bettykath – although your thinking seems to have logic to it, it is not the 18 year olds who are wanting to go to war. They are just the ones fighting it.

  14. @ Lee

    “it was the Supreme Court not I, who said it was a violation.”

    Actually, you did say that in your post. I agree, you didn’t make the decision. but obviously you agree with it. I personally have no problem with removing the display of the Ten Commandments from government buildings. Not because it is an Establishment (I think that it isn’t and disagree with the Supremes) but rather because to be fair to all religions they should have their displays as well. If you allow one, you must allow all to not show favoritism. Just think how terribly cluttered the government building would be . What a mess 🙂

    In addition, your assertion that the “right bows to Fox (television) is the same as asserting that the “left bows to Islam” . If one unsubstantiated (as you say) statement is asinine the by logic the other is as well, or don’t the rules apply when it is something that you agree with?

  15. They got the Feds to withhold interstate funding to states. They all eventually fell in line.

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