What befell Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter is even a more direct example of current day McCarthyism and Salem’s “He’s a witch!” method of personal destruction than the fate of James Gunn, discussed in Part I.
Schnatter was already on the progressive hit list because he had been openly critical of the NFL’s addled kneelers–you know, those astute social justice athlete-activists who honest-to-Pete weren’t protesting the National Anthem when they protested during the National Anthem and never have been able to clarify what exactly they are protesting, unless it was kind of everything, and who were exercising their sacred First Amendment free speech rights, but really weren’t, though they don’t understand that, not being familiar with the nation’s founding documents? Those guys—and was ripe for race-baiting. Then he had a fateful conference call with the chain’s marketing agency Laundry Service—That’s funny: I have a laundry service called “Marketing Agency”!— that wanted to hire rapper Kanye West to represent Papa John’s in ads. The call was also intended, reportedly, as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter to deal with sensitive race issues and to learn how to avoid future public-relations botches.
In the course of explaining that he wasn’t a racist, Schlatter told the tale of how KFC’s Colonel Sanders reportedly used the slur “nigger” often. Schnatter said he never would use that word — but GOTCHA! He had, in order to tell the Col. Sanders story!
Although Schnatter says he intended to convey his antipathy to racism, some on the call found his language ” offensive,” and reported that he had “used” the taboo word. Nobody, apparently, claimed he had used the word as a slur; he just refused to use the baby-talk code “N-word,” which, you may have already noticed, is an example of particularly idiotic political correctness that impedes education, journalism, public debate and competent communication that I emphatically reject in writing this blog. Talking or writing about the word “nigger” is not using the word “nigger” in the fashion that makes it rationally offensive. If anyone finds using the word to discuss the word itself offensive, that person has a problem, and it is between his or her ears.
Schnatter, who was already in trouble at his company and had stepped down as CEO in the wake of his criticism of the knee-happy NFL players, initially capitulated to the latest barrage of criticism. “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” he said in a statement. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.” Then he resigned from the company board. Here is the infantile way Forbes announced the news:
“John Schnatter—the founder and public face of pizza chain Papa John’s—used the N-word on a conference call in May. Schnatter confirmed the incident in an emailed statement to Forbes on Wednesday. He resigned as chairman of Papa John’s on Wednesday evening.”
Now Schnatter is fighting his exile, gathering a legal team and sending the following letter:
Dear Fellow Board Member
I am writing because I believe it is important that you hear directly from me the facts and circumstances surrounding the events that were initially reported and mischaracterized in the July 11 Forbes story, “Papa John’s Founder Used the ‘N’ word on Conference Call” and ultimately was carried in media across the country.
On May 14, Steve Richie, Mike Nettles, I and others in the company met with executives and staff of The Laundry Service, who shared their creative and strategy, at their offices in New York. As you know, we had been testing with significant success, my returning to the company’s advertising. On May 22, at their strong suggestion, I participated in what The Laundry Service called “diversity media training.” The idea was to prepare me for questions I might get as a result of my reappearance at NHRA on Saturday, May 26 in Chicago. (The Laundry Service, for those of you who don’t know, is an advertising and marketing agency which is part of the Wasserman Media Group.) During and after that meeting, The Laundry Service leadership strongly urged that our company retain Kayne West as my co-spokesman in the television spots and other promotions. I told them that would not work because he uses the “N” word in his lyrics.
During this diversity media training, which covered a wide number of topics, I was asked whether I was racist. I, of course said no — which is a truthful statement as those of you who know me well will attest and of course, if you felt otherwise you would not be sitting on the Papa John Board. I was asked if I was not racist, then why did I say what I did about the NFL situation? I said if you look at what I said, it was in no way racist. (The fact is, we completely mishandled the NFL situation from a public relations standpoint -both the Board of Directors and company leadership.) I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word. Earlier, I gave an example of a scarring experience I read about in Texas when I was growing up which further cemented my existing abhorrence of racism. The thought of this situation to this day sickens me. Let me be very clear: I never used the “N” word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever.
I have talked to a Papa John’s employee who was in that room with me who confirmed my recollection of these events.
The next day, May 23, the company made the decision — not me — to fire the Laundry Service, with their last day being July 2. We owed them approximately $1.3 million. Of course, we said we would pay them what was owed, but they said they wanted $6 million because they claimed some of their people had been offended by what I had said. Moreover, one of their attorneys said they would conduct a smear campaign against the company and me unless we paid them what he was asking for. Unfortunately, the company gave in to this extortion attempt and offered them $2.5 million or roughly $1.2 million more than they were owed.
On July 10, we got a call from the Forbes reporter who wrote the above-referenced story. The reporter gave me 15 minutes to give him our comments and said he then was publishing the story. It published the next day. Please be assured, I am going to get the facts of this situation out, but we want to make sure we do it correctly.
The Board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so. I have checked with corporate governance experts who tell me that this was not a proper action by the Board. At the last meeting, a few of you raised the issue of whether I should step down as a director. Once again, those individuals were acting on rumor and innuendo, without any investigation—let alone a third-party investigation of the facts. And once again, the corporate governance experts with whom I consulted said this is not the proper action of either a director or the board.
I am confident that an examination of the facts will bear out what I have written in this letter and show that once again our company has demonstrated that it does not know how to handle a crisis based on misinformation. I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.
- Good. I’m glad he is not going gentle into that good night of cultural pariah-hood, but the time to put up a fight was before he resigned. I suspect that Schnatter’s real problem has nothing to do with racism, and a lot to do with being impulsive, emotional, and irresponsible, like some other ex-CEOs I could name.
It’s right on the tip of my tongue..
- That aside, the fact that he was forced out of power because he referred to the word “nigger” shows how successful the Left’s brainwashing of the culture has been, allowing a manufactured charge of racism like this to work exactly like McCarthy’s “Communist!” labels and the Salem “Witch!” accusation.
“He said nigger!” is, incredibly, more stupid than either of these, but the Obama years saw Democrats and their allies so degrade the definition of racism—all the better to silence opponents with!—that anyone, literally anyone, is at risk of being ruined by a similarly false allegation.
- The cry of “he’s a sexual harasser!” has been faddishly popular equivalent of “Wiiiitch!” in recent months, but the racism tactic is ever green.
That is not to say—don’t point at ME, now!—that there are not real racists and sexual harassers in high places, and that when they are fairly identified and proven so following investigation and due process, they deserve everything they get. There were–are—real Communists too, after all, though Democrats don’t seem to mind them so much right now. Not like people who use “nigger” to talk about people who use “nigger.”
- Again, I strongly suspect that the real reason Schnatter was ousted was not because of what he said on the conference call, but because that was the convenient excuse to get rid of a loose cannon who was hurting the bottom line. Well, I sympathize, but that does not excuse strengthening an unethical device for censorship and personal destruction, which is what the modern, political-correctness fueled McCarthyism is. Papa John’s was unethical to use the weapon, and Schnatter had an obligation to the rest of us to fight back.