Remember when LGBT activists attempted to boycott Chick-fil-A in 2012 because its CEO, Dan Cathy, opposed gay marriage? The effort backfired when Chick-fil-A supporters organized an “Appreciation Day” that made record-setting profits. Remember when Phil Robertson was temporarily suspended from A&E’s Duck Dynasty after making controversial remarks about gay sex to GQ? The outcry was so loud and fast that A&E reversed its decision only a week later.

Such is the problem with protesting others’ sincerely-held beliefs: they make martyrs of the targets.

Again, this political rule of thumb is unfolding on the national stage with the case of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. After an owner told a local news station that the pizzeria would not serve a gay wedding in the wake of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the restaurant had to temporarily close because of an onslaught of negative reviews and fake orders from supporters of LGBT rights.

However, what the pizza protesters overlooked — just like the Chick-fil-A and Duck Dynasty demonstrators — was the outcry of support for their target their actions would generate. In the wake of Memories’ closing, a GoFundMe campaign was quickly created to recover the lost business revenues and has surpassed $175,000 as of the time of writing. Rather than uniting the country against bigotry, the LGBT activists involved in the Memories battle have only made their enemies stronger.

Ultimately, such an attack was unnecessary to begin with. LGBT rights have been winning for decades, with gay marriage now legal in 37 states and approval of the institution at an all-time high of 55 percent according to Gallup. As such the LGBT movement is essentially kicking the anti-gay movement when it’s already down.

This is a counterproductive technique because nobody likes a bully. Moreover, everyone loves an underdog story — which is why Memories Pizzeria will likely leave this mess when the limelight’s finally off them not only having recovered their losses but with a hefty profit from supporters.

Future boycotts of anti-gay businesses will continue to backfire until the LGBT community learns one important lessons: life doesn’t need to be all about politics.

As a gay man, I personally take issue with Cathy and Robertson’s warped view of my lifestyle and likely would avoid Memories Pizza if I were a Walkerton resident (that is, unless their pies are spectacular). However, there are many people I encounter on a daily basis that have radically differing views to me. That doesn’t give me an excuse to batter them on their politics just because we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything.

Doing so is just downright rude.

Unfortunately, ethical consumerism now threatens to do just that by politicizing every aspect of life, from the shows we watch to the pizzas we eat. What happened to the era when politics was considered a taboo topic at dinner parties?

Far from its intended goal of facilitating tolerance, modern progressivism seems to make individuals more hostile to each other. For the sake of sanity, it’s time for society to realize that politics is just one small characteristic of our complex makeup as individuals.

We can still be courteous to those who disagree with us; the world would be a very mean and lonely place otherwise.

When boycotts backfire: Trying to hurt one Indiana pizzeria is actually hurting the LGBT cause
Casey Given About the author:
Casey Given is executive Director of Young Voices. Follow him on Twitter @caseyjgiven
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