Cracker Barrel just proved that integrity and principle are alien concepts, if not to the entire corporate sector, then at least its cheesy, weaselly corner of it. Watching a company so blatantly hold its wet finger to the wind waiting to see where the “principles” with the most profitability lie is revolting, but instructive to those of us who like to believe there are such things as ethical corporations. I think we’re probably fooling ourselves. I think they are nearly all like the spineless, pusillanimous, grovelling Cracker Barrel, but just smarter about it. But then, a box of hammers could be smarter about it.
First, reacting to A&E’s craven PC punishment of Phil Robertson of cable’s Duck Dynasty clan for expressing the basic religious convictions of millions of Americans (they think homosexuality is voluntary, and a sin) in response to an GQ interviewer’s question, Cracker Barrel pulled products with Phil’s likeness, saying in a statement,
“Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture…. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation.”
I thought this was unusually weasel-worded, and I was right. The translation, in retrospect:
‘We at Cracker Barrel have no principles whatsoever. We are a blank slate; we go with the flow. There is no right or wrong for us: whatever position we feel we have to hold to get the most people to buy our products, you can count on us. If 51% of America begins worshiping Baal, hey, sacrifice a goat for in our name, because we’re all in. If the majority want to ban, hey, anything or anyone, we’re in full agreement. We aim to please, in any way that helps our bottom line.’
Sure enough, as soon as it looked like the tide of public opinion was turning against GLAAD and its efforts to muzzle and demonize a large and vocal religious community (which is, oh, about five or six decades behind the current state of human knowledge, experience and ethics, but by the standards or organized religion, it’s not too bad), Cracker’s Barrel turned on a dime, and bleated,
“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.”
Gag! Choke! Ack!
Then, if your gorge hasn’t risen yet, this…
“We respect all individuals’ right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different. We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.”
‘We offended some people in trying to kowtow to those who were offended, and once we realized that those who we offended were more likely to buy our products if they weren’t offended than those offended people we tried to suck up to were to buy our products because we pretended to be offended too. So now we’re fine with offending them, even though we don’t want to offend anybody. Since this company has no integrity and all it takes to make us change our principles is a threat to the bottom line, we now admit that we were dead wrong to give a damn that Phil Robertson declared all gay American sinful perverts. We now officially believe he’s a great American and has been unjustly slurred. Just let us know what we are supposed to believe next.’
I can respect a company that takes a stand for gay rights and against denigration of gay Americans, at the risk of alienating the religious right. I can respect a company that believes in open dialogue on all topics and tolerance for opposing views, and that conducts its business accordingly. I respect an organization that stands behind freedom of religion and religious tolerance.
I have no respect for Cracker Barrel whatsoever.
Who cares whether such a feckless company is on their side or not?