“McCarthy And Witch Hunts And Fear, Oh My!” PART II: Papa John’s Pizza Founder And Chairman John Schnatter

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.

29 thoughts on ““McCarthy And Witch Hunts And Fear, Oh My!” PART II: Papa John’s Pizza Founder And Chairman John Schnatter

  1. I can never run across this type of thing without thinking of the Python “Stoned for saying Jehovah” sketch.

    • The lesson of which is formalized by Jack in The Jehovah Paradox.

      From Ethics Alarms list of concepts and special terms,
      “The Jehovah Paradox: When one must clearly or graphically reference something offensive in order to explain why it is offensive (or not), thereby risking being accused of the same offense that one is trying to analyze”

  2. Thsnks for posting on this. Amen. Did not realize the shake down operation, er, markering outfit had extorted the company. Nice. Yhey must wash away the sins of the unwashed.

  3. 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.

    They ‘click’ you heard was my eyebrow hitting my hairline.

      • Well, the ad agency showed an easy to copy business model; a media training consultancy.
        The difficult part is to get high-value, high-profile customers worthy of an old fashioned sting operation.

    • If anyone’s into this sort of thing, Laundry Service has very entertaining employee reviews on Glassdoor. Apparently some feel the office environment is racist(!), and an inability to hang onto clients or produce good work. A few also mention shady practices that made them uncomfortable. Management seems to be very young.

      These are hardly comprehensive or reliable sources, but it’s interesting to speculate here. At a time when many ad agencies are struggling with changing markets, it’s possible some inexperienced decision makers saw this as a righteous source of revenue. The reviews give me hope, though, that not everyone at the company was on board.

      • Jesse Jackson used to run this sort of shake down operation. He’d tell big fortune 50 and 500 companies he could come in, for a fee, a large fee, and run seminars and get all the employees to be woke. The companies always agreed to the plan and the payments because they knew if they didn’t they’d be deemed to be racist. Very profitable business plan.

  4. This sort of reinforces Steve in NJ reponse yesterday in which he stated ethical behavior should not be a suicide pact.

    But I fear we have gone too far down the slippery slope to recover without each side having to pay significant costs to continue this assinine behavior. Perhaps if those that call people xenophobes or misogynists or whitey or cracker start feeling the same pain maybe the something will change. I won’t hold my breath because far too many are afraid of the mob mindset.

  5. Just in case you don’t know, losing his seat on the board was only the tip of the iceberg. The University of Louisville, who had named it’s stadium after Papa Johns because of their corporate support, promptly voted to remove the pizza company’s name after this incident. U of L is doing that among other things to try to airbrush Papa Johns out of existence.

    Jeffersonville, Indiana, where Schnatter grew up, is returning a $400,000 donation he gave them to save a historic building, and his name was taken off the Jeffersonville Wall of Fame (whatever that is). He should take back the money, wipe his arse with some of it and send it back to that mayor. His virtue-signalling is so sickening I still have green gills.


    You will be made to care, and you will think what we tell you to think. Speech is still free, of course, as long as it’s approved by the Committee on Public Safety and Against Bigotry.

    Welcome to the new revolution!

    • Glen,
      I wonder if people that solicit donations will accept them on the condition of irrevocability.

      Until then all donations should cease. Who is able to know what the next idea must be embraced without reservation or debate without risking social exile.

      Perhaps we need a list of all these virtue signaling entities so we can be sure our donations are going to organizations that wil not love us one day and hate us when the proverbial wind shifts. I wonder if these groups want to be placed on that list.

      • Heh. What a great thought.

        “Yes, Mr./Mrs./Ms./InsertGenderNeutralTitle, we’ll gladly contribute $1,000,000 to your worthy cause of saving zebras from sexual abuse. All you have to do is sign right here on this contract that says you have to accept our donation and cannot return or redistribute it no matter how many children we might have over for … ummm… barbecue in the future.”

        Stop the world. I wanna get off — the world, that is.

  6. So, when does the (almost always virtue-signalling leftist) accusation of “racism” become the dog whistle for mobs of righteous right-wingers* to curse, vilify, shame, harass, hound, otherwise erase from history – and, most importantly, accuse of racism – such leftist accusers?

    *(But of course some leftists say (accusingly, of course) that “righteous right-wingers” is an oxymoron, or non sequitur, or something – further proving and exposing the rampant racism among the left.)

  7. 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.”

    I have the most handy solution but it may come as a bit harsh or abrupt. It is to allow and to encourage people to use any language that suits them, whenever it suits them, to describe any person place or thing.

    Another part of my plan will involve allowing and encouraging people to love or hate whatever they wish to love or hate, and to be able (and encouraged) to do so. It will be quite the opposite therefor from devising the corralling of language and sentiments through state- or academy-imposed restrictions on ideas, language or feelings, and the absolutely and thorough rejection of all attempts to install such controls.

    One aspect of social engineering is to insist that language be controlled and that institutions will be established to patrol conversation. But this is really part of a project to control how people perceive their world and the things, and the people, in it.

    Social engineering and the use of public relations propaganda is a top-down affair. The overlords determine that certain usages cannot be used and then set up campaigns to vilify them and to *shame* people for what they think, see and feel. It is possible, I guess, that their motive is *good* (certainly in their own eyes it is), but the result is insidious because it involves stifling people, their ideas, perceptions and their views, and thus it backfires dramatically.

  8. Jack wrote, “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…”



    Why is it that people openly laugh at me when I say the general population of people in United States, especially the younger generations, have been dumbed down by the media, education system, and society in general. Right now being ignorant and saying stupid shit is rewarded by likes, shares and retweets. Our society inspires idiocy and trains people to be stupid; Pavlov trained dogs.

    Social justice warriors are mentally unhealthy, they’re blithering idiots, it’s a disease called STUPIDITY!

    • I don’t laugh when you say that, I weep.

      The left has taken over the education establishment, and frankly, the right has nobody to blame but themselves for letting it happen. Instead of fighting for it and refusing to let teacher’s unions institute ideological conformity, the conservatives decided they’d rather make money in business or other pursuits.

      The left didn’t have to fight for it, the right conceded it to them. You and I may see it as “dumbing down,” but they see it as a proper education (for their purposes, at least).

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