Chris Plante and the Cupcakes: Why You Can’t Trust Talk Show Hosts

A new Gallup poll shows that the public’s trust in news media has plunged to discouraging new (but completely deserved) levels. One of the side effects of this, the inevitable and correct result of  the incompetence, arrogance and bias of journalists and editors every single day, is that the public has begun to trust even less trustworthy sources. For example, a large proportion of twenty-somethings get their primary news information from the Daily Show, which is today’s equivalent of using Bob Hope’s monologues as a current events resource. This is foolish beyond words, because Jon Stewart’s professional obligation is to be entertaining, provocative and funny, not fair, accurate, or responsible. Indeed, if he has an opportunity to make a hilarious joke and doesn’t do it because it would require distorting the truth, he’s breaching a professional duty. He’s accountable to no one; he has no ethical standards to meet. It is unfair to rely on Jon Stewart for the news. He doesn’t want your trust: don’t trust him.

Others…older, but no wiser…go to public issue talk shows as their primary news sources. These people are not journalists either. They may be lawyers, former military men, spooks, authors, agitators, stealth political candidates,  or pundits; they may also be comedians, satirists, blowhards, ignoramuses, idiots, misanthropes, radicals, cynics, phonies or bigots. Among their ranks are too many agendas to count, in addition to those they all share: they want you to listen to them and adopt their views of the world. Those agendas are not conducive to truth either.

Some of the talk show hosts are less trustworthy than others. Take Chris Plante, for example—a B-list conservative talk show host whose primary tools are smugness and mockery. He featured a story out of Indianapolis, in which the gay and lesbian community were protesting the actions of a bakery which refused to make a “rainbow diversity” cupcake for a gay group seeking to celebrate “National Coming Out Day.” In Plante’s telling of the tale, the controversy represented the height of foolish victimization-mongering, demonstrating how absurd gay and lesbian activists were and the lengths to which they would go to claim offense where there was none.

You see, the bakery’s name was Just Cookies.””The bakery is called Just Cookies!”  mocked Plante.  “They didn’t make the cupcakes because they don’t make cupcakes!”  Indeed, the bakery told the group they didn’t make cupcakes and added that they didn’t have the sufficient materials to bake rainbow-colored confections Then he quoted the put-upon owner of the bakery to that effect. That certainly sounded like an injustice against the bakery, which is now facing media criticism and threats of boycotts. Plante liked the story so much—See how pushy and unreasonable those same-sex-seeking gays are?–that he used it on promotions for his show, all day long.

But Plante intentionally left out a key part of the story, though he alluded to it by saying, “Another one of the owners said something else. Just Cookies’ co-owner David Stockton said “something else,” all right. He  explained to local channel Fox 59 that the decision not to make the cupcakes was based on a moral objection to gays. “I explained we’re a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to [fill the order].”

So gays in the community were not being unreasonable to feel discriminated against and treated like second-class citizen by Just Cookies. Plante’s telling was tailored to make the gays and critics of the bakery look foolish, when in fact that bakery refused to make the cupcakes for the same reason blacks would be told there was “no vacancies” at almost empty motels. Bigotry.

Distorting the story as Plante did aids and abets that bigotry. It also misleads his trusting audience, many of whom were regaling their families at tonight’s dinner table about this stupid controversy started by a bunch of silly, grievance-seeking gays who were offended because a bakery called “Just Cookies”  that only baked cookies refused to make their rainbow-colored cupcakes.

What Plante did was irresponsible and malicious, as well as dishonest. He is the kind of news source modern journalism has driven Americans to, with its miserable, bottom-feeding ethics. I don’t know who the public is supposed to trust to give them both all sides of news stories and undistorted facts, it sure isn’t Chris Plante and his fellow talk show hosts.

8 thoughts on “Chris Plante and the Cupcakes: Why You Can’t Trust Talk Show Hosts

  1. As a hypothetical, what if he refused to make rainbow cupcakes because he didn’t like that homosexuals had stolen the rainbow as their symbol, and he thought the rainbow should be for everybody?

  2. Pretty close to the line, I’d say….what if a Muslim group wanted American Flag cookies, and the owner felt that they would be desecrating the flag? I think an owner can refuse to produce something he or she finds in bad taste—penis-shaped cookies, say—but when its attached to age, race, gender or sexual orientation, I think its unfair and biased.

  3. Through laws and other public policies, our society is telling business owners that they have the right to refuse service to anyone—unless we don’t like their reasons for such refusal. There’s built-in conflict, there.
    Catholicism (as an example only) teaches that homosexual activity (though not the orientation) is a mortal sin. Does this mean that a devout Catholic business owner who does not want to do business with gays or lesbians because he feels they set a bad example for others is motivated by bigotry?
    Then there’s the cupcakes themselves. They are a symbol, and promotion of, gay pride. What if our Catholic business owner feels that simply making the cupcakes is not a morally neutral act? That he would be implicitly endorsing homosexuality by filling the order.
    There’s also the fact that there are plenty of other bakeries that would happily take the business. The gay and lesbian community is going to get their cupcakes, and get them without any undue hassle. Personally, were I in their position, I would not want to do business with the refusing bakery, and would happily take my custom elsewhere. Impacting the bottom line, that can be both carrot and stick for businesses, and it’s reasonable.
    If all of us are going to function in a free society, we need to understand that we are not guaranteed a hurt-free inner child. Injustices are unethical, but they’re also inevitable, and I don’t have the time or resources to stop and fight every one of them. Sometimes the reasonable thing to do is shrug it off, chalk it up to experience, and get on with greater obligations.

    • Ah, spoken like a true Rand Paul!

      But I think society has a legitimate interest in making it a condition of providing services and products and making one’s living thereby to insist that all potential customers are treated equally, without bias or judgement. I submit that civilization doesn’t work, and people cannot co-exist and enjoy a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These things require balancing, and I think this balance is easy: the need to avoid creating second and third-class citizens and institutional bias and discrimination out weighs the pure property right of a proprietor picking and choosing his or her customers. Pharmacists must not refuse birt control devices to unmarried couples or condoms to gay men. Gun owner can’t refuse to sell guns to blacks’ grocery store owner can’t refuse to sell cigarettes to women because they think it’s “unlady-like.” The fact that there were other bakeries is pure happenstance—what if there were only one? Besides, a citizen should be able to use the services of the BEST one. Brown v. Board of Education was exactly right, and it is an ethical statement: “Separate is inherently unequal.” It applies with equal force to education and cupcakes.

      Injustices are inevitable, but every injustice isn’t inevitable, and it is the job of an enlightened society to minimize injustices whenever possible. The injustice of having to be paid to provide the same service to a black gay man that one would gladly provide to white straight man is minor compared to the injustice suffered when minorites have to live in a “NO BLACKS, IRISH OR INDIANS SERVED!” that makes a mockery of Jefferson’s ideals.

  4. Jack,
    If I hosted regular dinner parties for myself and my neighbors but made a point of advertising all were invited, save for anyone who was homosexual; should that be made illegal? One could argue (and I would agree) that it’s both morally reprehensible and a bad way to make friends, but it’s not criminal. What if I asked those who attended to contribute towards the cost of hosting the event (still with the “no gays” policy) would THAT be enough to make it illegal? Or, what if it wasn’t in my home at all, but a park or community center I’d rented, would it be illegal then? My point is, at what point does freedom of association no longer count?

    Business owners (usually) are not supported by the public coffers and, instead, rent or buy retail space and pay start-up costs entirely out of their own pocket. However bigoted a particular entrepreneur might be is irrelevant as (s)he is entitled to spend their capital any way they (or their investors) see fit. One may abhor such blatant anti-homosexual discrimination, as do I, but it’s their lesson to learn. Moreover, such a person is likely to have that lesson taught to them the hard way as such policies will likely generate a large amount of bad press (as is the case here) and eventually hurt the baker’s bottom line.

    I agree it’s the job of an enlightened society to be on the watch for such obvious hate and discrimination, but the brute force of law isn’t the answer. Simply refusing to give the offending bakery your business is more than punishment enough.

    -Neil

    PS: Cliche as it is to point this out, despite all his talk of equality, Jefferson not only owned slaves but likely patroned a number of businesses which refused service to blacks, Indians, and even the Irish. My point is, ideals can make for great road-maps to follow, but they make for terrible legislation.

    • You did change the subject, you know. I never discussed whether refusing to serve gays like this is illegal—though I suspect it is—just that it’s wrong.

      As I say too much–law, which is always a blunt instrument, steps in when ethics and morals fail, if only to make a clear statement that something IS unequivocally wrong. It helps. The only people whose rights are squeezed are the people who want to use those rights to hurt people.

      And surely you’re not saying that the laws against slavery are lousy legislation? Jefferson had many brilliant ideas and humanistic principles. He was, in many ways, a weak and selfish man, and couldn’t live up to them, but that impugns only him, not his ideas.

  5. Jack,
    I realize the legality issue was not mentioned in the original article which is why I refrained from comment until you wrote in your follow-up post:

    “But I think society has a legitimate interest in making it a condition of providing services and products and making one’s living thereby to insist that all potential customers are treated equally, without bias or judgment. I submit that civilization doesn’t work, and people cannot co-exist and enjoy a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These things require balancing, and I think this balance is easy: the need to avoid creating second and third-class citizens and institutional bias and discrimination out weighs the pure property right of a proprietor picking and choosing his or her customers.”

    .. an opinion with which I fundamentally disagree. Private property rights are paramount to a free society as they include the right to self-ownership as well, and should not be impinged upon for any reason. The baker wasn’t using his rights to hurt anyone (except their pride, perhaps) he simply refused them a service which is, quite frankly, small potatoes to begin with (Cupcakes? Really ..?).

    It should be said, however, that we’re in complete agreement on the ethics of the situation. The baker refused service to otherwise legitimate customers based on ignorant bigotry and Plante exploited and misrepresented the situation as a means of gaining further support for his own twisted agenda.

    -Neil

    PS: Where did I say laws against slavery were bad?

  6. I didn’t think you intended to, but using Jefferson’s anti-slavery/ slave owner hypocrisy as an intro to a “good ideals make lousy laws” conclusion (which I don’t disagree with as a general proposition) could be read that way.

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