Ethics Quiz: The Memories Pizza Stunt

Memories Pizza, you will recall, rushed to let everyone know that it supported Indiana’s short-lived “Let’s discriminate against gays” law, which Pope Francis would have approved of, apparently.  The poor, naive little establishment, which was about as likely to cater a gay wedding as a White House state dinner, became the immediate target of social justice warrior bullies, who nearly succeeded in running them out of business.

On September 25, 2015, comic Robin Trevino, a member of the gay theatrical ensemble GayCo, drove to Walkerton, Indiana, bought pizzas at  Memories Pizza, , and served Memories Pizza to all the guests at his September 26, 2015 same-sex wedding reception, then released a video to alert the world that Memories Pizza had unknowingly catered a gay wedding  after all.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Was it ethical to do this?

My answer: No, it was obnoxious, gratuitously mean, and only funny if you think it’s inherently amusing to make people do what they have said they don’t want to do just for the fun of it.

To me, this stunt was the equivalent of George Costanza getting revenge on a conservative Jewish woman for gossiping about his “shrinkage” by tricking her into eating lobster, for her, a religious taboo. OK, the law’s on your side now, and you’ve won: what nasty impulse makes Trevino and his supporters think that it is fair and just to rub opponents’ faces in the defeat, make them unhappy, and continue to mock them? How is this any different from going into the pizza joint, ordering a pizza and then laughing and pointing while jumping up and down screaming, “I’m GAY! GAY! And you have to serve me! Nyah nyah nyah!”

Most of the discomfort over gay rights arises from ignorance, and the fact that people who don’t (think they) know any gays or interact with them on a regular basis believe there is something “wrong” about them other than their sexual orientation….the essence of bigotry. It really doesn’t help for gays like Trevino to go out of their way to validate these suspicions by acting like vindictive jerks.

30 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Memories Pizza Stunt

  1. Because the visible standard bearers of the gay movement have mostly been vindictive, cruel assholes like Dan you-know-who, who can’t give up the fight even after they have won. I don’t pretend I know many gay people, I don’t. However, the “ordinary” gay folks, in the sense of gay folks who presumably want the same as everybody else, just from someone of the same gender, don’t get much if any press time, except if the press is looking to push a “look, they’re just like everyone else” angle. Otherwise, it’s all anger, angst, and indignation, because conflict sells papers and gets clicks.

    Further, most of the media wants to seem hip and ahead of the curve so they can appeal to the younger element. To people in their 20s who haven’t grown up completely yet and were raised on sitcoms where young people always win by giving snappy comebacks to adults, it looks HILARIOUS when a conservative old fogey is made a fool of or tricked into violating some cherished belief or standard that they think is silly, because that PROVES that the belief or standard is silly and therefore anyone who cleaves to it is silly and not worthy of respect or even a second thought.

    It’s behavior like this that’s going to make damn certain that Obergefell just becomes another Roe v. Wade, that never goes away, and also leads conservatives to find perhaps some more inventive ways of getting around being forced to do or tricked into doing things they don’t want to do.

    • It’s both a blessing and a curse that gay people look like everyone else. It’s a blessing because if you aren’t militant or flamboyant about it, walking down the street you’re indistinguishable from straight people, and bigots can’t bigot at you. It’s unfortunate because that means that you have to be militant and flamboyant in order for people to know you’re gay, and so the idiot minority speaks for all of us. I hate the pride parade. I can’t say that strongly enough… Gay people as a group, generally, just want to be treated like everyone else. How better to further that cause than to have a special parade where you dress up in kink and walk around trying to squick the mundanes. Dan Savage is an asshole, this guy is a jerk, and I make no excuses for them…. But you know the average gay person really isn’t like that, right?

      • I’m not sure most people know that at all, HT. And I’m torn on the issue of flamboyant gay-ness. Nobody should have to pretend to be something other than they are, and stereotypical quirks shouldn’t cause fair people to make uncomplimentary assumptions. It is like the question of whether blacks “sell out” by using standard English and “acting white.”

        I was listening to the Broadway channel on SiriusXM. All of their male DJs make Nathan Lane seem macho. It’s kind of ridiculous. Can’t they butch it up just a little? If Broadway musicals are going to survive as a vital art form, and as someone who has directed many professionally, I personally think they are doomed, musicals can’t be seen as just a “gay” diversion. Then I feel guilty for thinking this way. So some gays lisp; so they have tell-tale mannerisms, so what? Well, for one thing, I think it’s a social and professional disadvantage anywhere but in predominantly gay environments. Should they have to change, or should they fight to have the stigma, which is essentially just a conformity issue, removed?

        • Ha ha! Have you heard the XM comercial for the Broadway channel, aired on other channels? It ends with a guy with a voice that sounds like Ethel Merman singing ” It’s not just for gays anymore!”

        • Hmmm, I am most definitely not gay, and I love a classic Broadway musical more than most – though since mom died and dad started spending about half his time down south I haven’t been.

        • I perhaps was overly broad…. I don’t particularly care for the overly dramatic flamboyantness, but I can’t being myself to care overmuch either. I don’t think they actively do harm. I think the pride parade does harm. I don’t think bystanders watch a parade and say “Wow… Those people are just like me.” More, I don’t think the pride parade has much to do with being gay, as opposed to being an opportunity for people to showcase their sexual kinks. I don’t care what they do in their bedrooms, but don’t do it on the street, and don’t associate me with it.

          The question on whether to conform or struggle is interesting though. I don’t think I have the right frame to answer that… I never had to make that choice, because I never lisped. The feel good answer is that everyone should be allowed to be whoever they want… But then the downer vibe is that some people are loud annoying jerks. They can be who they are, that doesn’t mean I ant to work with them. I think there is a whole country full of ‘passing’ gay people out there that put the lie to the idea that there is something inimical to being gay that makes you flamboyant, although it would be dishonest not to note that there is a correlation. It’s a tough call. I’d lean towards conforming.

      • As I said, I am guessing gay people, like straight people, come in all types, and most of them probably just want the same as us plain vanilla people. Most of them probably DON’T think they are in a special state of blessedness simply because of their orientation. I also daresay most of them are not looking to stir up trouble with the people they have to share a neighborhood with. And yes, if you choose to keep it quiet you can sort of vanish into the crowd. The upside is you can avoid bigotry or just plain nosy inquiries. The downside is you have to deny part of yourself. In the workplace is doable, you can take the attitude that you’re there to work, nothing else, but sometimes you have to police your speech, depending on your coworkers.

        Frankly, I wouldn’t give a damn if a gay coworker just talked about life like everyone, except referencing a different set of pronouns, and we kept the focus on work, which is where it belongs in the office. Introducing causes, though, that can be a problem for anyone, as we talked about a little before. We’re increasingly becoming a culture where we want to wear our causes and conflicts on our sleeves, and that’s bound to generate friction. Sometimes it can’t be avoided. 8 times out of 10 it probably can, and it’s not ethical to strut or flaunt your cause to cause friction just because you feel strongly about it, and that goes double if you purposefully try to cause friction.

        Yes, as kids we were told to “just ignore it” “get a thicker skin” etc., when someone tried to press our buttons, but that was crap foisted on us by tenured teachers who didn’t give a damn about anything except counting down the days to retirement. Yes, if you are a conservative maybe it gave you a momentary twinge of joy to see your dyed-in-the-wool Democrat coworker’s face when you told the latest Obama joke or reminded him just how badly they lost last November. Yes, if you are gay maybe it gave you momentary satisfaction to shove the Obergefell decision in your Baptist coworker’s face. Yes, if you are Irish or English maybe it’s fun to poke at your coworker of the opposite persuasion just to see him get mad. What are you, 11? Are you still in the schoolyard making insults about the other guy’s mom in the hopes he will either be miserable or get mad enough to throw the first punch? This is just that kind of crap, and apparently at least some of the gay community can appreciate others saying “knock it off, already.”

        Oh, and as for parades, well, HT said it best. As an amateur photographer I love a parade, and I can appreciate almost any cause having one. However, the purpose is to put your best on display – not repulse others, which is exactly what you do when you strut down Fifth avenue in chaps that show your hairy balloon knot to the world or obviously and exaggeratedly cross-dressing.

        • What annoys me at any parade (not that I attend any more; I have more engaging things to do) are hours of herds of employees of fringe organizations, especially large corporations, and crawling automobiles, one politician to a car, displaying THEIR wares, and I’d enjoy a bit of color, hair on or not.

    • Jack, I would nominate this as a Comment of the Day.

      That being said, I have to disagree on one point: Obergefell already IS another Roe v. Wade, insofar as the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court imposed massive social change – social change that a significant portion of the population opposed on moral grounds. In this case, Obergefell is Roe on steroids, as opponents of same-sex marriage won 30 times at the ballot box, including Prop 8.

      Post-Prop 8, the LGBT community really showed a vindictive side. There was NO WAY such stunts like this were not foreseeable, win or lose based on that. Of course, gay marriage would be resisted after that.

      • In Canada, in the early 80’s, there was an effort to amend the constitution of Canada to bring Quebec into confederation, Long story short… Quebec still isn’t in confederation. Now why the Meech Lake Accord failed is a textbook on it’s own, but what was especially interesting was the way the two sides saw the issue. Outside Quebec opponents were selling a narrative that Quebec was ‘getting something’ and especially ‘getting something that they didn’t deserve’ (I disagree with that notion, I don’t think they were getting much if any real power or privileges, but Canadians in general are big on appearances.) But inside Quebec it was seen as an opportunity to be accepted by the rest of Canada. They realized that they weren’t going to get them anything, but there was this… fostering of goodwill… That was kind of neat. The failure of the Accord was devastating. Quebec saw the failure as a rejection of their identity as Canadians, and started on the path to a series of referendums that could have broken the country in two, at the closest point the vote was off by only a single percentage point.

        I guess the parallel I’m trying to draw is that two people can be faced with the exact same set of circumstances, but their positions can make the issue seem completely different to them. Proponents of traditional marriage see those 30 votes as keeping marriage sacrosanct… And there’s legitimacy to that. Gay people see those 30 votes as direct rejections of who they are as people… And there’s a legitimacy to that.

  2. “My answer: No, it was obnoxious, gratuitously mean, and only funny if you think it’s inherently amusing to make people do what they have said they don’t want to do just for the fun of it.”

    My answer: Yes. They didn’t actually get Memories Pizza to cater the wedding, which would have involved having them show up with warm food and serve it on site. What he did was get Memories Pizza to prepare a carryout order (which I don’t think they’ve ever said they would not do) and he called that a “catered wedding”. I don’t think that term means what he thinks it means.

    If he had actually tricked them into catering the wedding, would it have been unethical? Reluctantly, yes. Did he actually get them to cater his wedding? No. Did he go support their business by buying 2 pizzas so he could have a symbolic slice at his wedding? Yes. But I’m not sure he made his point. I think he did the exact opposite….which is sort of comical….which is what he does, right? He’s part of a comedy troop?

    • He put out a video that stated, by your definition falsely, that Memories Pizza catered his wedding. Most people won’t inquire further than that. It’s continued harassment of Memories Pizza for no good reason, correct?

      • Using only the video as reference, they have text at the beginning that states Memories Pizza will serve and feed gays, just not cater their wedding. Watching the whole video, you see that he simply places a carryout order, as any normal customer would. You see that his order is 2 pizzas, not 20 or 50 that might be required for a wedding.

        Watching only the video, with no further inquiry, we know that not every guest at the wedding a) got a slice and b) ate that slice as their main course. Regardless of what he says, it’s apparent from only the video that Memories Pizza did not “cater” the wedding. He says they “catered” his wedding, but that’s either willfully ignorant or a lie. (Unethical)

        But was it unethical to order carryout pizza from a christian pizzeria and eat that pizza at a gay wedding? I can’t see how that is unethical, however ideologically inconsistent it is.

        Was Memories Pizza harmed by this promotional stunt? Were they “harassed”? Doubtful. The last time they stated their position not to actually cater a gay wedding, they got the internet to part ways with a ton of money. Now they have the ability to have a new slogan for their business: “Pizza so good, people cross ideological lines and drive 4 hrs round trip to get a slice.”

        • What’s unethical, Tim, is publicly announcing that MP was tricked into catering the wedding, knowing the the gay-allied news media would report it just that way:

          From Mediaite: “Memories Pizza Is Back and They Technically Just Catered a Gay Wedding”
          Actually you’re right, they technically DIDN’T. But it doesn’t matter. The place is being held up to ridicule and as hypocrites.

          More from Google:

          Memories Pizza tricked into “catering” gay wedding
          Hot Air-Sep 29, 2015

          WATCH: Gay Couple Thanks Homophobic Pizza Shop for the …
          Advocate.com-Sep 29, 2015

          That Anti-Gay Pizzeria Accidentally Catered a Gay Wedding
          TIME-10 hours ago

          Homophobic Memories Pizza Just Catered This Gay Guy’s Wedding
          Highly Cited-NewNowNext-Sep 28, 2015

          Whoops! Pizzeria That Refused To Cater Gay Weddings Just …
          Highly Cited-Huffington Post-Sep 29, 2015

          There are lots more.

            • One rationalizes unethical behavior to justify doing something…. so, your question or point (correct me) “Is it ethical to do something that is ethical, that you hope will inspire others to act unethically in your favor?”

              [I used “hope” instead of “know” because one can never truly know what another person of free will is going to do. Even having a very likely understanding of outcomes, free will reduces knowledge of the future to a prediction or a hope.]

              What would the role of consequentialism be in this? One can’t control what others will say or do, even if they hope they know.

              …thinking on it some more….

              It may not be a rationalization but some kind of fallacy. The unethical act isn’t in the doing of the ethical act, but the dereliction of duty or care to foresee likely outcomes and guard against or mitigate those resulting outcomes. …I don’t know – thoughts?

          • We agree that his video and representation of what occurred is inaccurate and that it led other “news” sites to put ridiculous headlines on a non-story. He could have easily (in a different reality) said, “I drove to Memories Pizza and to show no hard feelings, bought some pizzas, and brought back a couple slices for us to enjoy here at our wedding.” But he wasn’t that in tune with doing the right thing and made it into a joke for comedic purposes and roasted the pizza joint.

            Is it unethical to make a public figure the butt of a joke for purposes of comedy? I hope not. Is this comedy? It could be. If it were a purely political statement, then it’s wrong on the facts and it’s unethical. I feel though that it was for the comedic value to the guests in attendance and the joke went viral. It even appears to be a comedy club where the wedding was held. I’m not even sure that Memories Pizza got its feelings hurt being the butt of this joke.

            Memories Pizza, if they are being held up to ridicule, they are facing that from those who find their position is worthy of ridicule. No one (on either side) thinks they’re hypocrites for “being tricked”; and reading those headlines it is obvious that a trick was employed.

            Getting back to the ridicule: No one asked them what their position was, they offered that voluntarily to insert themselves into the national discussion & spotlight for an opportunity at free publicity. People found their statements and position to be mean-spirited and hateful and continue to respond to it in a variety of ways. I don’t think there is a time limit to respond to speech you disagree with and I wouldn’t recommend one.

            • Well, as we discussed at the time, they were dragged into the controversy by a radio station that pot the owner behind a mic and goaded her into this, then broadcast it as a scoop. And they are not still public figures. Their 15 minutes of fame evaporated after it nearly killed them. That’s part of what’s crummy about the stunt…it’s the ultimate in kicking a dead horse.

  3. Well jerks will be jerks and obviously the gays who did the video haven’t outgrown adolescent pranks. I’ve known a few gays in my time and most of them have been reasonably nice people. A few have not and I don’t particularly like the flamboyant gay style. I have never bought a Liberace record either.

  4. “…nearly succeeded in running them out of business.” Whether the “catering” stunt was meant to or not, I think it would have greatly helped the business. And made no gay friends.

  5. Memories Pizza ought to capitalize on the stunt. They should wait until the next “pride” day or month, and bake a specialty pizza. It should have extra-thick crust – not just at the edges, but puffed-up and billowy all the way to the middle – with one little section-slice of pepperoni smack dab in the middle. Baked to steaming-hot perfection and served like a flatbread, with gobs of garlic butter and yogurt on the side to dip, or maybe, with those spread across the sprawling, baked crust. As an option, they might stuff the crust with chunks of browned veal, to appeal to lovers of “young meat.”

    They could nickname it the Robin’s Nest, aka Trevino’s Balloon Knot.

    Tit for tat.

      • Steve-O, I owe my inspiration to you – just being truthful, and hoping you’ll have no regrets – after I read your use of “balloon knot.” Again, honestly: I probably had read that term before and ignored it in self-imposed ignorance – I had probably seen it back in those “tide” days. But now that we are all washed by superior justice (if not yet properly cleansed), I am paying closer attention to nuances. Perhaps I am now more motivated to possess and continually improve a “gaydar” which I previously lacked. So, this time, I saw that term in your comment, paused a moment to ponder, and evidently concluded correctly on what it must mean. From there, envisioning the specialty pizza was a piece of…something.

        Please keep up your rich commenting, and never be inhibited from how you express yourself on account of any potential to inspire my odd ramblings. If I was to write “Ditto” in reply to every comment in this blog that said exactly what I was thinking, only more eloquently and clearly, your comments would win the “most Dittos” prize unrivaled. (I think you and I both appreciate joed68; we all gotta stick together here.)

        • Ahahaha. In this case the other side could be said to have brought it on themselves, since they chose to resurrect this dead horse in an attempt to get their 15 minutes of fame. Colorful commentary is probably ok, as long as it doesn’t enter the realm of open hate. Mocking frankly ridiculous or attention-whoring behavior like the deliberate dressing in gear that exposes body parts normally covered by a bathing suit or same-sex kissing in front of a Chik-fil-a is fair game. Firing back at deliberate gross-out behavior is also fair game. Calling out jerkass behavior or bullying behavior by the other side, i.e. a certain writer’s excesses of profanity or licking doorknobs, is fair game. Spewing hate that you know damn well would sound like a Klansman if you substituted color for orientation, not ok.

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