Pasta with a side of Prejudice

Pasta and gay rights.  Those go together don’t they?  If you’re thinking no, then you’re absolutely right.  There should be no controversy regarding pasta, however, chairman of Barilla Pasta, Guido Barilla (yeah, his name is Guido; make of it what you will), obviously didn’t feel the same way.  When asked, Barilla stated that he would only portray the “classic family” in all of his advertisements.  He said that if anyone felt that they objected to this, they did not have to buy the pasta.  He spoke to an Italian radio station in late September and explained his viewpoints, saying, “For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company,” he told Italian radio on Wednesday evening. “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.”  So basically, Barilla is trying to sugarcoat his prejudice by seeming tolerant, just not tolerant enough.  Unfortunately for him, the rest of the world didn’t quite see things that way.  His comments sparked global outrage from gay activists as well as most people with sense.  Whether you are pro-gay rights or anti-gay rights, there is absolutely no reason to make comments like that.  All it does is create problems, hurt people, and ruin the fun of pasta.
Barilla is in charge of the fourth-generation family business, along with his two brothers.  The brand is well known and has frequented dinner plates across the world.  Nonetheless, people can’t help but feel angry with the chairman.  As a result of his comments, chairman of Equality Italia responded by launching a boycott campaign on all Barilla products.  In the next few hours, Twitter was abuzz with angry tweets, and hashtag ‘boicotta-barilla’ was trending.  Barilla apologized soon after, excusing his statements as his way of showing the importance of women in the family.  This seems slightly not good enough, considering there are many homosexual women in the world as well.  If Barilla did an ad with two women as the heads of the family, he’d be able to show their importance twice over.  Still, everyone is entitle to their opinions, and if Barilla doesn’t want to advertise a gay couple in his ads, that’s his prerogative.  What cannot be condone, however, is the offensive way in which he expressed his opinions.  He was essentially asking for a fight by asking people to not eat his pasta if they have a problem with his ideas.
Barilla has since then released a video apology, saying he would meet with any families he offended.  However, the deed is done.  People are buying other pastas and badmouthing Barilla, and other pasta companies such as Buitoni and Bertoli took advantage of Barilla’s bad publicity.  They released their own ads promoting gay rights.  One Buitoni ad stated, “Pasta for all.”  Even though I think Barilla had no right to say what he did, I have a problem with #boycottbarilla trending on Twitter.  Obviously, Barilla should face ramifications for his actions, but the people who will suffer if Barilla Pasta is boycotted are the ones lower on the Barilla Pasta food chain (no pun intended).  The people working for him will lose their jobs, and Barilla, a multimillionaire, probably isn’t going to feel the effects of a short boycott.  The people trying to earn a living to support their families will though.  If we remember back in 2012 when Chick-fil-A announced its opposition to gay marriage, people were enraged, refusing to keep it in universities and go to eat there.  However, this didn’t put the company out of business by any means, and it is really only talked about when similar things like the incident with Barilla occur.  Yet, that was just a year ago.  Russia banning homosexual propaganda has led to many boycotting Russian vodka companies.  What people aren’t realizing is, this will not change minds; it will only create controversy, and what would really be beneficial towards the LGBT community and making gay marriage universally accepted is to associate gay rights with positive things, like celebratory parades and success in legalizing gay marriage, not destroying the credibility of a company and the many people who work for it.  The best thing people can do is condemn his words, not his company, and prevent this type of discrimination and prejudice from ever continuing.


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