In a recent show of giving the press a field day, the chairman of Barilla (that company that makes halfway decent pasta products) said that he wasn’t a fan of gays and lesbians, and that the desired customer was the family with a mommy in the kitchen. Apparently, his view of a wholesome family involves a lady (feminists rejoice! you have a new target!). He said that if the gays don’t agree, there are plenty of other pasta companies to choose from (DeCecco is better anyway).
Upon uttering a bunch of pretty ugly words, the Internet exploded again and every news site’s comment section was flooded with Free Speech commenters and their ilk. The Barilla chairman, through some PR folks, tried to mop up the mess, saying that Barilla just digs a wholesome family, and that the company, chairman included, has tons of respect for everyone. I’d say a decent move, given the lightning speed at which this sort of apology made it to the airways. Still, the clean up crew couldn’t stem the backlash; groups in Italy boycotted the pasta, and LGBT supporters have said they don’t want to eat the stuff anymore.
So, basically, the Barilla chairman is a bit conservative and the citizens of the Internet have taken it upon themselves to exact justice. This strikes me as a little crazy. True, it was a jerk thing to say, and a closed-minded thing to believe in this modern world. I have nothing but good will for everyone and have never attacked any one group, and maintain that I never will. That’s a good stance to take in my mind, and one that should be taken here. Yes, he said a hurtful thing, but by commenting on it or trying to boycott it, Barilla is gaining power in recognition. Any press is good press, as we’ve seen before in the food industry (Super Size Me was a big, gross ad for McDonald’s).
But I’m not saying we should allow this behavior to become okay. Hateful speech may be a right, technically, but it still sucks and should be educated against, with discussion and not being like, “We better not buy this pasta!” In the end, the Barilla higher-ups may lose a little money, but there are so many folks who work for that company who don’t want to be caught up in the middle of these kinds of squabbles. Instead of boycotting the pasta, go directly to the source of the hate and figure out ways of dealing with it (or ignore it, as it’s one dude and he’s not plastering pasta packages with angry hate letters).
And if you don’t want to eat Barilla, well there’s plenty of other options. However, it’s as much an attack boycotting a company with many workers (with families of all sorts probably) as saying something hurtful. I think we learned in elementary school that if a bully is mean, acting back in any way is giving the initial aggressor power. I get that people are angry about the Barilla man’s statement, but better to let it go (oh wait, I’ve been talking about it this whole time!) than let the press bring it to all sorts of controversial places (last thing we need is political fight that ends in no pasta forever).