Friday, December 26, 2014

Barilla's homophobic chairman is a real noodle

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Barilla's homophobic chairman is a real noodle

Guido Barilla, president of the Barilla group, on Wednesday nixed the idea of using gay families in advertising, as some other companies have done, saying Barilla envisions a "classic family." (AP Photo, File/Luca Bruno)
Guido Barilla, president of the Barilla group, on Wednesday nixed the idea of using gay families in advertising, as some other companies have done, saying Barilla envisions a "classic family." (AP Photo, File/Luca Bruno)

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

-- Martin Niemöller, (1892-1984), Protestant pastor and public foe of Adolf Hitler 

 

I am not gay.

But you wouldn’t know it from my unyielding support for LGBT equality.

Consequently, I can no longer be comfortable as a heterosexual living in America until every person of every sexual orientation is guaranteed the same life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that I am.

I can no longer fully enjoy the sacred marriage to my beautiful and caring wife until I know that my gay and lesbian friends and family can have the same public and private legal protections and enjoyment that I do.

And, as of today, I will no longer buy or eat my favorite pasta – Barilla Penne – because, like Nazi foe Martin Niemöller realized late in the game, I can’t and I won’t idly stand by as our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, and our sons and daughters are being targeted, harassed and morally torn apart by heterosexual supremacist European food magnate Guido Barilla.

Barilla, whose self-named firm holds roughly a quarter of the pasta market in the United States, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show on Wednesday night: "For us, the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company. I would not do it but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals who have the right to do what they want without bothering others … [but] I don't see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family."

If that wasn’t enough, Barilla, who ironically claims he supports gay marriage (that’s laughable), clearly does not support what marriage means for many couples – heterosexual or gay – and that is children.

“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,” Barilla said. Asked what impact he thought his position would have on gay consumers of his pasta, Barilla added: "Well, if they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don't like it and they don't like what we say they will … eat another."

You are absolutely right, Signore Barilla. “They” and their heterosexual allies will eat another. And we’ll make it easy to eat another. We will organize to eat another – any other.

We will accept your invitation to boycott your homophobic firm (on Twitter and Change.org) and all of its products.

John Sternlicht, a gay married man living in Seattle, had this to say via Facebook: “I am one of the gays who eats carbs, but I will accept his invitation to no longer buy Barilla pasta or sauce. It's one thing to believe, quite another to condemn, exclude, and foment opposition and discrimination. His right to feel as he does, and our right to make him feel the consequences of hate in his European man purse.”

I remind people that it’s one thing to support "traditional marriage." I have some heterosexual and, surprisingly, some gay friends who support "traditional marriage," but none are anti-gay and certainly wouldn't exclude gays from ads or make such a vile statement – especially someone who says he supports gay marriage. That’s what makes this incident so bizarre and disturbing.

Yes, to cover your ass, Barilla's U.S. website issued the following apology of sorts: “At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors – with love and respect – and to deliver the very best products possible. We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can’t undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.”

Don’t you get it, Barilla? When your leader makes those kinds of asinine and hurtful remarks, it hurts all of us.

We are forgiving. But it won’t happen overnight. A lame apology is not enough. You will have to atone for your sins. I’d recommend taking out some new ads that include gays and lesbians. How about a publicity campaign in Passyunk Square – you know, the new Gayborhood?

If you don’t mind, no chicken and pasta dishes, though. Brings back a bad taste, if you know what I mean.

Some may forgive you then, but not as long as Barilla pasta is, as one journalist put it tongue-in-cheek, “Vladimir Putin’s pasta of choice.”

John Featherman
About this blog
John Featherman is a contributor at Philly.com and writes about politics and consumer-related issues. Reach John at john@featherman.com.

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