Tartar-ed and feathered
The adage that everyone is entitled to an opinion is true in most cases — except when that opinion is misguided, irresponsible and incites hateful rhetoric. On July 17, Summerside restaurant owner Paul MacGregor crossed the line from insight to controversy when he made a Facebook comment on a CBC story about Charlottetown crosswalks painted rainbow colours in celebration of the P.E.I. Pride Festival.
“This is offensive to many tourists who come here to escape this leftist agenda,” MacGregor wrote in his post. “You will never hear them say so, because if they do, the bullies will take them to court.”
What followed was plenty of back-and-forth, both on that post and on the Facebook page of MacGregor’s business, Skip’s Fish ‘n’ Chips.
Many began giving the restaurant negative reviews on the page. Others — some from outside the province who likely have never been to Skip’s, but agree with MacGregor’s sentiments — launched a campaign of five-star reviews in support of the owner’s actions.
The number of stars in the reviews is inconsequential, though. It’s the accompanying comments that are truly disturbing: bigoted, discriminatory and hateful words against the LGBTQ community.
MacGregor did not back down, telling the Journal Pioneer this week that painting the crosswalks “doesn’t include many groups who find it offensive, such as born-again believers like myself, as well as many U.S. tourists, not to mention our own Amish and Muslim communities. Leaving the paint white shows neutrality and genuine inclusiveness.”
Sorry, Mr. MacGregor, but that’s ridiculous and wrong.
Crosswalks are painted and pride festivals are held because of opinions like yours. Leaving a crosswalk painted its usual white is not inclusionary — in fact, it would be symbolic of the very discrimination and unwelcoming attitude you’re promoting.
You can’t deign to be in favour of “genuine inclusiveness” while writing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the next sentence. That’s talking out of both sides of your mouth and couching homophobia in a political opinion.
How must LGBTQ people in the Summerside area feel today, knowing the owner of a restaurant they may have frequented in the past doesn’t really want them there?
MacGregor could easily use the Facebook’s option to turn off the reviews or hide them from the public as a way of diffusing the situation. As of this writing, though, it seems he’s more interested in having others fan the fire he set, rather than helping to douse it.
Take a lesson from Summerside Chamber of Commerce president Dan Kutcher, who also wrote a Facebook post decrying the comments on the Skip’s Fish ‘n’ Chips page while respecting MacGregor’s right to his own opinion.
Perhaps the chamber and the city can paint their own crosswalks, or show support in some other way to ensure LGBTQ people in their community are welcome.
One restaurant and one person can be an island in a storm of controversy, but they do not represent our Island.
As a province, let’s be respectful and supportive and show our true colours.