Pistrina Sine Laude: Publix Deletes “Cum” From Summa Cum Laude As Offensive Speech

downloadPublix stores appear to need a Latin-to-English dictionary.  When Jacob Koscinski was declared summa cum laude at this Charleston, S.C., home-schooling program, his mother Cara ordered a cake online from Publix to read “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.”  It is a simple recognition of graduating “with distinction.”  However, when it arrived, the store had deleted “Cum” as profanity so that cake read “Summa . . . Laude.”  Publix will now receive the distinction of pistrina sine laude, or bakery without distinction.

I recently wrote a piece on why cake shop owners, in cases like the still pending Masterpiece Cakeshop case before the Supreme Court, should have the free speech right to decline to make cakes. That right would reduce the current dangerously ambiguous line where certain refusals are treated as a discrimination while others are treated as protected speech.  By recognizing that store owners can decline to prepare cakes deemed offensive, we leave it to the market and public opinion to address those businesses adopting insulting or restrictive or idiotic policies.

In this case, the original message celebrating Koscinski’s 4.89 GPA was returned with a message that said “profane/special characters not allowed.”

Cara Koscinski

on Sunday

Ok. I didn’t want to post but I cannot resist. I ordered Jacob’s graduation cake from Publix. A $70 cake!! He earned a 4.79 GPA. Publix refused to write the words Summa Cum Laude because I was using ‘profanity!’ They put three dashes instead of the word!
How utterly ridiculous and I will be speaking to a manager for a refund. Shame on you Publix for turning an innocent Latin phrase into a total embarrassment for having to explain to my son and others (including my 70 year old mother) about this joke of a cake. My son was humiliated!!! I seriously couldn’t make this crap up!!!!
Funny-not funny. 😡
Edit: The person who picked up the cake on the day of the graduation did not know what I requested to be put on the cake.

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This could be a problem of others, particularly academics celebrating accomplishments in their field.  To help Publix in the future:

“Congrats On Finally Finding Your Arsole” is actually a celebration of a scientist isolating an arsenic-based organic compound composed of ring-shaped molecules.

“Another Year Of High Albedo” is likely a celebration of climatologists celebrating the high reflectivity of Earth’s surface of solar energy.

“Success In Finding The Sea Puss!”: Oceanographers celebrating their tracking of strong seaward currents.

“Congrats on Your Turdus Maximus”: A cake celebrating an ornithologist sighting a Tibetan blackbird.

“To The Man of the Hour and His Galactic Bulge.”  Astronomers celebrating a colleague’s research on the center of a galaxy.

68 thoughts on “Pistrina Sine Laude: Publix Deletes “Cum” From Summa Cum Laude As Offensive Speech

  1. In these cases, it’s important to remember that half of the general public is of below average intelligence.

  2. If I was programming an online ordering system that used a word-checker, I’d add a feature in which orders with potentially questionable language would be routed to a human being–for instance, the bakery manager–for final review and approval. I guess that’s too logical.

    • It is too logical but the software does exist.

      Microsoft had an internal tool named “policheck” that checked resource files, etc. for words that might cause political fallout as well as cultural conflicts and profane words. It is especially useful when selling products to foreign markets, especially when some nations, such as China, will threaten to ban all products if certain references are made.

      The same idea can be used here but on a much smaller case.

      Personally, if I owned a cake decorating business I couldn’t care less about what the customer wanted written on the cake. As long as they paid for the cake and were happy with the result I can’t see throwing away business.

  3. The cake that was ordered for the kid was a gift for passing a christian home school program, So I kind of think its funny that it had a word that was deleted. Maybe its was a case of religious freedom from the cake maker.

  4. A veryfamous hard rock group has made a fortune on just one song which is said to have been released with a spelling error. Where was Publix then and now. How about an uproar for the language nazis who are ruining what passes for our national though not by law language. Maybe we’d be better off with Spanish?

    Come On Let’s Hear the Noise

    Girls (explitive deleted) your boys.

    In case you didn’t know where the term rock’n’roll began.

  5. Ugh – who orders baked goods from Publix anyhow? It is known for its excellent customer service so I’m sure she got an apology and refund.

    • …”an apology and refund” doesn’t make up for a cake that was ordered for her son for a special LIFE event. Some LOW IQ determined (and of course not checking what it meant) ruined the whole purpose for the cake being baked. Is this really what America has come to? I don’t just blame Publix…I blame the culture that has been created in our schools by SOCIALIST teachers. I’m sending this article to every person I know because the next time I want a free cake, I’ll make sure I go to Publix and have CUM somewhere in the punch line!

      • Some LOW IQ determined (and of course not checking what it meant)

        Elise, about 75 million people score below the 25th percentile on psychometric tests. They generally have desultory jobs because that’s the work there is for them. You can hire someone who would never make that mistake, but they very well might be suboptimally employed working in bakeries. People optimally employed working in bakeries aren’t likely to be people with wide ranging vocabularies. That’s just life.

        • It wasn’t the bakery worker who made the decision. Other news accounts say that the word was blocked by the company’s online ordering system. The computer is programmed to block certain profane or offensive words. So you’ll have to settle for Summa With Honors, or go to a real bakery!

          • In my mind, it doesn’t make a difference who made the decision. The person buying the cake didn’t get what he asked for. If they ran out of chocolate and couldn’t fill the order in a chocolate flavor they would have told the buyer before he left the store.

            They will refund his money and no real harm was done. In fact, the story behind the cake will make the memory of the occasion stronger.

  6. Enigmainblack,

    I just recently was sent a video that I think you might appreciate. This video doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t object to racist acts and racism. They should. I believe I saw such an act on this blog not that long ago. It appears that your blog name was used in a racist manner. I didn’t mention it earlier but perhaps this is a good time to say so since I thought the act was totally inappropriate and appalling.

    PS I have met and spoken to Candace Owens several times and she is the future.

    https://www.prageru.com/videos/playing-black-card

  7. Doesn’t everyone simply ‘google’ unknown terms/words? Takes a matter of seconds and the answer appears. Wow. Anybody with a phone or computer would simply have queried the term out of curiosity if for no other reason.

  8. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

    ― George Berkeley

      • Depends. Is it a socialist forest or an Independent Republic Forest. There was a cartoon of a half clear cut forest. The remaining trees featured a sign that said ‘never happen here.’ Inthe foreground two loggers were cross cutting a felled tree. the caption was a rythmic left right left right left right left right.

        • Only thing that has changed is the mills and logging equipment was packed up and sent to Siberia and some to Costa Rica and we buy our lumber from them. Zhhhhwoompa Zhhhhwoompa.

  9. I agree that it’s a ridiculous situation, but not for the same reasons as everyone else.

    The commenters here – as well as Prof. Turley – are generally more highly educated and fairly well-read than I’d expect of a bakery employee in a supermarket. That employee is trained to work as quickly as possible and without bothering his/her supervisor. I doubt that bakery employee with maybe a HS education is familiar with the Latin phrase or what it means. IME, those hourly employees will take whatever action is less likely (in their minds) to get them in trouble. Drawing words they don’t understand but which look vaguely profane looks like danger.

    I’ll admit, I generally try for empathy with bottom-rung employees who are just struggling to do the best they can under the circumstances. Along that line, I’ll side with the cake baker over the bullying of the customer making a social media fuss and complaining to corporate HQ.

  10. She’s a baker. Crucial to performing her job is basic education and vocational instruction, not academic education. Sometimes, you make mistakes.

  11. There are other words & phrases to be on lookout for…Subject to interpretation:

    • Choke the chicken
    • Hershey highway
    • Jizzim

  12. It’s just like when old reruns of Frazier air on the Family Channel — they bleep out the first syllable of the word, asinine.

  13. I highly suspect that “Publix” the corporation had little to do with the decision, at best perhaps an Asst. Bakery Manager overthinking the situation. These are not franchises where individual stores have owners on site, neither is it likely a frantic E-mail sped its way to the corporate offices. It’s likely the cake could have been fixed on the spot after the slightest bit of conversation.

    • True it could have been fixed with a bit of conversation, but the store didn’t bother to start the conversation. They could have objected at the time the order was taken and written down, a simple explanation of the meaning could have settled the problem. But that didn’t happen. They could have called the customer at the time the cake was being made and again a simple conversation could have settled it. Instead, they chose to change the order on their own without advising the customer. Since someone else picked the cake up for them, who didn’t know what was ordered and probably never looked in the box, just picked it up and delivered it to the party, it was too late to have it fixed. The store owes this lady an apology and a refund, at the very least.

      • The mother could have fixed it herself, to avoid the embarrassing explanations to son and granny. One of those little cake lettering tubes of blue icing for around $2 would have taken care of it. But to be fair, I tried using one of those and they don’t work very well. She paid for a professionally decorated cake and deserves a refund. If they had questions or concerns about the order, they should have contacted her in advance about the order, while she still had time to take her business elsewhere if they couldn’t come to an agreement.

        This reminds me of some reviews on Yelp that I was reading about a local Dick’s Sporting Goods. Several people commented that they couldn’t believe someone would name a store “Dick’s,” and another asked if it were legal!

        And then there was the D.C. government which, several years ago became a laughing stock for firing a finance official for using the word “niggardly” in the discussion of proposed expenditures.

      • Yes, there were points at which the store could have fixed the problem including calling the customer. The order could have been made online but still could have been clarified. The store has a pretty liberal refund policy and I’d be shocked to learn it wasn’t already offered, along with an apology.

        I’m not saying there wasn’t an error here. I am saying that condemning the corporation for something they almost certainly had no knowledge of is a tad unfair.

        • I agree that corporate likely had no knowledge of this. A refund, an apology, and the ensuing bad publicity should suffice.

          • TIN – clearly CUM is on the list on profane words and so cannot go on the cake. Corporate is on the handle for this one. They take the hit.

            • It’s just like the Daily Caller automated word filter. If you want to mention Melville’s classic, you have to call it Moby Richard. And if you want to mention GW Bush’s vice president, you have to call him Richard Cheney, though if you do, nobody knows who you’re talking about.

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