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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

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A Few Words About April Fool's Day from The Content Guy & John Oliver

Over the years, MNB has usually celebrated April Fool's Day by offering some sort of fake news story that I thought seemed just credible enough to take people in for a few minutes. Sometimes, it got too close for comfort.

One year, I wrote that Walmart had decided to completely change its selection of laundry detergents and would begin carrying only Tide and a single bargain brand, each in just two sizes and two "flavors." The company had decided that nobody would stop shopping at Walmart because it didn't carry dozens of sizes and brands, and that this was the best way to curate its product selection. Got a lot of email from people suggesting that I should keep my mouth shut and not give Walmart any ideas...

Another year, I wrote that Ahold USA had decided to complete its strategy of integration and centralization by rebranding its Stop & Shop and Giant stores as Super Giant Stop & Shop, "except at stores where the physical location is such that this is too long a name to put on the building and sign."

And, I wrote, Ahold USA executives said that, having been frustrated by charges that moving Giant’s operational center to Stop & Shop headquarters in Massachusetts has made its staff out of touch with the Baltimore-DC market, they now plan to move the headquarters for both chains to Boise, Idaho, where the state has offered tax breaks and infrastructure improvements to lure Ahold’s operational center. “Being local is overrated,” said one Ahold USA source. “We can do everything from a remote location two thousand miles away and be just as effective as we’ve been over the past few years.” I got a call from Ahold that morning ... they were upset because they were getting calls not just from Boston-area realtors looking to rent or sell its space there, but also from Boise realtors looking to sell or rent them space in that market. I must admit that I was sort of proud of myself...

I have to be honest, though. It gets harder and harder to write this stuff each year, simply because the world gets crazier ... stuff that I might have included in previous April 1 stories now gets reported - for real - every other day of the year. (And I'm often making fun of these items, when appropriate (and sometimes when inappropriate) in MNB's daily "Eye-Opener" pieces.)

So this year, I'm going to turn the soapbox over to John Oliver. he did a web-only "Last Week Tonight" segment about the folly of April Fool's Day, which you can see above. (Keep in mind that, as usual, there is a certain amount of profanity ... so be careful if your office door is open or you are in a place where kids might be nearby.)

Enjoy.

Wednesday Morning Eye-Opener: Yes, We Have No Bananas

Speaking of everyday crazy stories...

It never occurred to me that what the world really needed was a case in which one could carry a single banana, to prevent it from being bruised. And it also never occurred to me that such a case would need to be ribbed and flexible in the middle, so it could handle bananas of various sizes and those bent in different directions.

Well, that's what separates me from the folks at Banana Bunker, where they not only saw the need for such a product, but actually manufactured one ... and put it on Groupon for sale. You can see that Groupon page below.

The problem was that the picture of the Banana Bunker resembled another kind of product. A more, shall we say, intimate product.

Not only did the Banana Bunker sell out, but it also prompted an eruption on Groupon's Facebook page, eliciting more than 12,000 comments, 18,000 Likes and 43,000 shares.

Many of those comments were suggestive, salacious and sexual in nature. Also very funny ... and Groupon was smart enough to go with the joke, responding to hundreds of the comments with a kind of feigned innocence punctuated by a wink, reportedly leaving it to the company's social media team, which was young and hip enough to make it all work. (I can only think that these social media folks must be fun to hang out with. It seems like a pretty good bet that at least one of them has spent time at Second City.)

It is a great lesson in social media engagement ... you have to be willing to go with the moment, be all in, and have a sense of both context and humor.

In Groupon's case ... it is an Eye-Opener. And definitely not an April Fool's joke.



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From MyWebGrocer...

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Kate's Take: Spies Like Us

by Kate McMahon

Domino’s is asking customers to rat out franchisees that have not dropped the word “Pizza” on storefront logos by posting incriminating photos on Instagram, for the opportunity to win free pizza for a year.

At first glance, I thought this #LogoInformants social media campaign was ill-advised.

Upon reflection, I was wrong.

It’s asinine.

The pizza chain announced in 2012 it was changing its logo and name from Domino’s Pizza to just Domino’s – “because we’re more than pizza.”

Now you’d think that a worldwide chain with $8 billion in revenue would have a well-orchestrated rebranding plan and help its almost 5,000 national outlets transition to the new logo. Domino’s in the U.S. is 96% franchise-owned, and after all, these are the folks who cut headquarters the check.

Well, that clearly hasn’t happened.

The 2012 logo change replaced the all-red domino with a blue-and-red domino, and dropped the accompanying words Domino’s Pizza, which were set against a blue background. All was quiet until this February, when Domino’s aired a commercial exploding and obliterating one of the old storefront logos and highlighting its chicken, pasta, sandwiches and stuffed cheesey-bread offerings.

The Instagram contest followed, urging fans to act like spies and upload a photo of a an outlet with an old logo by April 27th for the chance to be one of five people to win free pizza for a year, or one of 1,000 $10 gift cards.

“Your cooperation with this case identifies you as an individual empowered to conduct investigations of Domino’s retail stores as a confidential informant," according the terms and conditions on the Logo Informants website. "We know this sounds like a legitimate assignment, but you should know it’s just for good fun, which means you have no police power and are not an employee of any governmental division. Sorry."

Sorry. In my mind, Domino’s urging customers to snitch on their local pizza purveyor rather than corporate HQ doing its job doesn’t qualify as good fun. And if I were a franchise owner, I wouldn’t see the fun in being shamed over a sign when focusing on weightier issues such as delivering a quality product and, in many areas, worrying about driver safety.

To make an ill-conceived social media effort even more ludicrous, both the Domino’s Facebook pages and Twitter account still include the words Domino’s Pizza.

The backlash on Instagram and Twitter was immediate.

"Umm, @Dominos I think you forgot to 'drop the pizza' on your own Facebook page. #logoinformants #sweeps," wrote one Instagram user, with a screenshot of the Domino's Pizza Facebook page.

Other typical posts included:

“SHAME! YOUR Twitter feed is still represents you as Domino's Pizza! SHAME!”

“Name change alert! ‘Domino's Pizza’ is now simply, Domino's. Because they are much more than pizza, but much less than food.”

Another critic went right for the grammar attack.

“Calling yourselves Domino's now without the ‘pizza’ and using that logo makes no sense. Domino’s is plural yet your logo is a single domino. Made sense to use the plural possessive form before with pizza attached. Now you're just ignorant sounding.”

Even fans of the promotion, which has more than 3,300 posts on Instagram, noted that Domino’s still used “Pizza” in social media. Wrote one: “Hey @Dominos: I love ur #logoinformant contest but u should start with ur Twitter account!”

Domino’s was quick to defend the campaign.

"It's just a fun way to engage our old logo before it's gone, through a tongue-in-cheek scavenger hunt," Domino's spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre told ABC News. "It has nothing to do with shaming our franchisees at all."

She told ABC that Domino’s expected most of the stores to be “re-imaged” by the end of 2017, at a cost ranging from $40,000 to $55,000 per location, and would not take action against those identified on Instagram. The spokeswoman also said the company sometimes uses its old name online, because many people still search for "Domino's Pizza."

Domino’s has worked diligently to overcome a 2009 viral video showing employees in a North Carolina franchise putting nose snot on a customer’s sandwich. That’s why I question this negative social media campaign which only draws attention to its own inconsistency and does little to create a positive relationship between customers and their local Domino’s.

I’d recommend the opposite – an Instagram I Spy campaign highlighting the franchises that are proudly displaying the new logo -- to raise brand/expanded menu awareness and get fans excited about free pizza (or pasta or chicken) for a year.


Comments? As always, send them to me at kate@morningnewsbeat.com .

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THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER...

“For grocers, the most important number is the average number of Top Shoppers per store. For most US food retailers, that means those spending an average of $50 week or more.”…… Brian Woolf - Supermarket Loyalty Expert


Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

Arkansas Passes Religious Freedom Bill; Walmart Asks Governor To Veto It

Yesterday, even as controversy continued to mount about a new Indiana law guaranteeing religious freedom, which critics say also could institutionalize discrimination against the LGBT community, the Arkansas legislature passed a similar version of the bill and sent it to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson has said that while he has reservations about the bill, he plans to sign the legislation ... but now he has to factor into his thinking opposition by Walmart, his state's dominant corporate citizen. CEO Doug McMillon said yesterday that he believes Hutchinson should veto the bill, saying it is at odds with his company's values and the state's spirit of inclusion.

In Indiana, Republican Governor Mike Pence has said that he is open to modifying the law, the New York Times writes this morning, "but he has not indicated how he could do so without undermining it. He rejected claims that it would allow private businesses to deny service to gay men and lesbians and said the criticism was based on a 'perception problem' that additional legislation could fix."

The Times goes on: "The bill in Arkansas is similar to the Indiana law, with both diverging in certain respects from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That act was passed in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Arkansas’s most famous political son.

"But the political context has changed widely since then. The law was spurred by an effort to protect Native Americans in danger of losing their jobs because of religious ceremonies that involved an illegal drug, peyote. Now the backdrop is often perceived to be the cultural division over same-sex marriage.

"Both states’ laws allow for larger corporations, if they are substantially owned by members with strong religious convictions, to claim that a ruling or mandate violates their religious faith, something reserved for individuals or family businesses in other versions of the law. Both allow religious parties to go to court to head off a 'likely' state action that they fear will impinge on their beliefs, even if it has not yet happened."

KC's View:



Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words ... as in the case of this picture of a t-shirt created by an Indianapolis florist. Thanks to the MNB user who passed it along.

"Your Views" is entirely devoted to discussion of this issue. I'll save my POV for then...


















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Amazon Tests New Dash Button As Path Of Least Buying Resistance

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is testing "a new service that lets customers instantly order household items like laundry detergent and baby food -- without touching a computer or smartphone.

"The new Amazon Dash Button has an adhesive strip and can be mounted to a washing machine or a kitchen cupboard, or anywhere a customer is likely to notice a certain product is running low. The detergent-deficient user pushes the button, which uses home Wi-Fi networks to alert Amazon to deliver the item, saving the customer a trip to the store -- or even a visit to the Amazon app ... The Dash button is available by invitation only to select Amazon Prime members, with a limit of three buttons per customer. Prime members number in the tens of millions. The company didn’t disclose the size of the Dash button trial."

KC's View: It wasn't that long ago that Amazon was using the "Dash" moniker to describe a wand that would allow people to reorder via voice recognition or barcode scanning. Sometimes, it seems like they;'re throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

To be honest, when I heard this idea, I thought it was an April Fool's joke ... how many of these buttons could one possible install one's house? It seems to me that all this stuff needs to be smart phone enabled, as opposed to creating all these other devices.

On the other hand ... my 20-year-old daughter thinks that this may be the best idea since sliced bread. So we'll see. I tend to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt, just because their powers of innovation seem so superior to mine.

Now, if they start delivering the Dash buttons via drone...I'll know they're on to something.

Walmart Pushes Suppliers On Price

The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart "is increasing the pressure on suppliers to cut the cost of their products, in an effort to regain the mantle of low-price leader and turn around its sluggish U.S. sales. The retailing behemoth says it has been telling suppliers to forgo investments in joint marketing with the retailer and plow the savings into lower prices instead."

The story notes that Walmart's price advantage against its competitors "has been eroded, and it has steadily been losing market share in the U.S. since the recession ended, while rivals including Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. gained share, according to data from the consultancy Kantar Retail. With the growth of dollar stores and other discounters, Wal-Mart is facing ever more competition on price, which for many customers is the most important selling point.

"The new dictate on prices is creating tension with companies that supply the hundreds of thousands of products on Wal-Mart’s shelves."

KC's View: It was just two weeks ago that we took note of a Wall Street Journal report that Walmart "struck a deal to be the exclusive carrier of a new, premium-priced laundry-soap brand in the U.S. And it has stacked the brand, Persil, on store shelves right next to the reigning champion of high-end laundry detergent: Tide." The move was seen as noteworthy because it is a way for Walmart to gain leverage over Tide and the broader laundry detergent category.

This is all part of the same strategy - put pressure on suppliers to drive down price, and to play hardball whenever and wherever possible. The question is whether Walmart will have the discipline to stick with this approach, or will it get distracted by some other initiative that dilutes the low price focus.

The other questions: How do suppliers respond? And how do competitors respond? Because Walmart is not operating in a low-price vacuum...

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FSMA Readiness: The Implementation Factor

A Note from the Content Guy:

Ready or not, here it comes...
This is the third in a series of three videos sponsored by ReposiTrak and prompted by new regulations under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) that will begin going into effect in August 2015. These regulations will require more accurate and accessible record-keeping by food industry players, and mandates higher levels of culpability on the part of senior executives.

ReposiTrak has developed an efficient and effective way for companies to do the required record keeping, and its system has been endorsed both by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Retailer Owned Food Distributors & Associates (ROFDA). Both organizations are making the system available to their members.I hope you'll watch them, and in each case, will take advantage of the offer to provide greater information about FSMA's specific demands ... which you can get by going to www.ReposiTrak.com.

Let me repeat: These are subjects we talk about a lot here on MNB - the importance of food safety, and the need for greater trackability, traceability, and transparency.

Every company needs to be ready. Every executive needs to be ready.


As is stated in the video...Denial is not an option. And resistance is futile.

Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

RadioShack Finds A Faint Heartbeat In Judge's Ruling

The New York Times reports that Judge Brendan L. Shannon of United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware has given his blessing "to a plan that would keep about 1,700 RadioShack stores open, saying he would approve the plan over a higher cash bid that would probably have liquidated the retailer but raised more money for its creditors." The stores are being sold to a hedge fund, Standard General, which "intends to co-brand those RadioShack stores as Sprint stores in a bid valued at about $160 million."

The story says that "RadioShack stores could now live on, albeit as a much smaller chain geared toward selling mobile phones ... These locations - many in strip malls and in lower-income, underserviced areas - could be well suited to selling prepaid phones to customers with poor or limited credit."

KC's View: Probably won't be long before little kids are looking at their parents and asking, "What's a radio?" Which will make the RadioShack name problematic. Almost as problematic as the company's retail strategy has been.

Amazon Opens A Physical Store. Nothing Is For Sale.

MarketWatch reports on the AWS Pop-up Loft, a store created by Amazon in downtown San Francisco, that "is filled with comfy couches, funky lamps, computers and tons of food, ranging from fresh cupcakes to beer on tap" - all of it free.

The goal of the store is "to promote Amazon Web Services (AWS), a collection of remote computing services that make up Amazon.com’s cloud computing platform, which includes virtual servers and Web Service based storage. Modeled after a typical San Francisco startup, the space screams 'hipster-chill,' complete with a record player and foosball table for anyone from the public to use ... If you’re there to actually get work done, there are those Quirky Pivot Power outlets, quiet work lounges and a big bar in the center of the room where AWS employees can answer questions, reminiscent of Apple’s Genius Bar."

The store does not actually sell anything. Even to purchase AWS services, you have to go online. “The AWS Pop-up Loft is open to any current or potential AWS customers who are interested in learning more about AWS,” says Ariel Kelman, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at AWS. “We certainly see a lot of startups visiting the Loft to deepen their technical knowledge about our services, but we’ve also had enterprises come to the Loft to attend sessions and meet with our solutions architects for expert technical advice.”

KC's View: It is all about ecosystem. Whether shoppers realize it or not.

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The MNB Walmart Watch

• Published reports say that Walmart Canada has decided to stop offering free shipping on online orders under $50, and instead will charge $4.97 for shipping such orders.

The company said the reason for the change was rising costs. However, Walmart said that consumers can still get free shipping if products are shipped to its Grab & Go lockers in stores or at local post offices.

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Worth Reading: The Case Against GMO Labeling

The Washington Post ran an editorial the other day in which it argued against the mandated labeling of food with genetically modified ingredients, suggesting that "the GM-food debate is a classic example of activists overstating risk based on fear of what might be unknown and on a distrust of corporations."

I think it is provocative and worth reading...and you can do so here.

FastNewsBeat

FoodBev.com reports that "Coca-Cola will launch 100,000 machines enabled with Apple Pay before the end of the year, becoming “one of the largest retail acceptors” of the newly released technology. The move will allow consumers to pay for products easily and securely using their iPhone or Apple Watch at terminals across North America."


Reuters reports that Starbucks and Danone have begun "selling a smoothie line at more than 4,300 U.S. Starbucks shops as part of a Greek yogurt partnership that will also include yogurt parfaits and ready-to-eat yogurt to be sold by grocers. The rollout comes as Starbucks seeks to double food sales and as Danone's popular Dannon yogurt brand wrestles with Chobani in the popular Greek yogurt category ... Priced at $5.95 for a 16-ounce size, the smoothies will come in three flavors and can be customized by adding ingredients such as protein powder and fresh kale, said Jeff Hansberry, president of Starbucks' Evolution Fresh brand."

The story notes that "in early May, Starbucks and Dannon will begin selling Evolution Fresh Greek yogurt parfaits in about half of Starbucks' U.S. stores. Then, this summer, the partners will start selling fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt cups at U.S. supermarkets."

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Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

Your Views: Culture Clash

We continue to get email about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which continues to prompt negative reactions from major businesses such as Nike, Marriott and Walmart.

MNB reader Any Casey wrote:

Politics, discrimination and religious freedom aside, there are just so many things about this discussion which elude me.  As a business owner if don’t want to serve a particular customer I can think of about a million ways to encourage them to go away.  Heck, business owners do that a lot even if not intending to.  And as a customer, I’m thinking I really don’t want to spend my money with people who make it clear they don’t want my business for whatever reason.  Who does that?  Particularly since this often centers around wedding cakes the whole discussion brings to mind the movie “The Help”.

MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

Owner to Gay Couple: "We would be most happy to bake your cake for your special day. However, we cannot provide the couple on top you request. However, here is a card for a shop that specializes in all kinds of cake-topping decor. We will provide you the cake and you can simply place the decor on top."

I am sure there is some reason it can't be that simple. Personally if I were gay I probably would not pick a Muslim bakery as first choice, but if I did, maybe because it really makes the best cakes, and the owner said that to me I would understand and be fine with it.


Another MNB user wrote:

Any seller should have the right to accept the opportunity-cost of not taking someone's money.  All the buyer has to do is take his money who a seller who's happy to take it.  Any buyer has the right to "discriminate" by doing business with Store A rather than Store B.  Any seller should have the same right.

Maybe you think they should. But they don't. A seller of products and/or services cannot decide they he or she does not want to sell to a particular person because they are male/female/black/white/gay/straight/Muslim/Irish/Catholic/Jewish/Chinese/Greek/smart/stupid/young/old/whatever.

Call me crazy. Call me radical. But I think it is a good thing that we live in a society that does not allow people to discriminate this way.

But having said that, I must admit that I'm overstating what is legal and illegal, in certain cases.

Which is part of what this reader wanted to point out:

Comment from a reader:

What horrifies me is the huge disconnect between Gov. Pence and the majority of Americans.  Where are they getting the message that we want, or even need this legislation?  Wow.  Glad I don't live there.

The reader evidences weak logic and a less than tolerant attitude.

Here's a quote from the Los Angeles Times:

A Pew Research Center survey last year showed the American public is divided over the issue of providing services in same-sex marriages. About 49% said businesses should be required to serve same-sex weddings, and 47% said businesses should be permitted to refuse service because of religious objections.

A 2% majority is not a clear mandate!  It is clear that the reader thinks this law is a horrible idea, and probably most people in his crowd think the same, but I can tell you that in my circle of friends and family, the opposite is true.  The follow-on question -  should the majority have the right to impose intolerance on a minority?

He also needs to recognize that the majority voted for the congress and governor, so until they change their thinking, or are voted out, that's the way it is.

This seems to be another case of intolerance in the name of tolerance.  Tim Cook and others have declared a war against what they perceive as intolerant behavior, and the media and like minded people join until it drowns out any other voices.  The intolerant "others" are constantly demonized and marginalized until there is no possible way for their ideas to be heard.  And their "intolerance" is set in stone.

Clearly it is a tragedy when a group decides their thinking on a complex issue is not just superior but settled, and anyone who disagrees is inferior, and they and their ideas cannot be tolerated.

And Kevin, you said:

I've stated my opinion on similar bills here before - that history is replete with examples of people and institutions that use religious freedom as an excuse to discriminate.

and...

You choose to do business in the public square, you have to provide your services to anyone willing to pay for them. That's the deal. Discrimination is illegal.

Actually, discrimination must be done against someone in a protected class of people, such as by race, age or gender, and for an act to be illegal, there must be laws on the books to define what the protected classes are and what actions are considered discriminatory.  There is no discrimination if sexual orientation isn't a protected class.  So before you drop the "d" word in your critique, perhaps you should check to see if you have any legal ground to stand upon; in Indiana, it isn't a protected class.  Kevin, the writer in you should come up with more accurate language to describe what you can't tolerate.

Ronald Reagan once said: “The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.”


Let me respond, if I may. And I'll work backwards on your comments...

First, I do not think of myself as intolerant of religion. Far from it. I come from a "whatever gets you through the night" perspective, and have seen in many cases how religion can serve as a powerful positive influence in people's lives. And I do not view the arguments on these new laws as being attacks on religion.

(As a matter of transparency, I think it is important to differentiate between God and organized religion. The latter does not always reflect the attributes that I might ascribe to the former. So I think it is entirely possible to criticize religion without attacking God. Also ... while I believe in both tolerance and "whatever gets you through the night," even that has limits ... which will become clear later this week when I review the new HBO documentary about Scientology.)

I do think we are in a sensitive area here, when it appears that civil rights conflict with religious rights. I would never argue, for example, that Catholic priests be forced to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples ... I may disagree with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, but I think that within the walls of the Church, doctrine should be observed.

There is, of course, the eternal question: Is it ethical for a tolerant person to be intolerant of intolerance?

I'd rather frame the question this way: Can one be compassionate even as one's tolerance limits are tested? And I would argue that in a civilized society, not only can we be compassionate, but we should be compassionate.

I think Rich Heiland has it right above. If a bakery owner or a florist does not believe in gay marriage, then those people should not marry a person of their own gender. But I'm not sure how baking a cake or arranging some daisies for a gay wedding is a sin, or even more importantly, how many actual instances there are in which people of faith are being forced to provide services for people of which they do not approve or for ceremonies that they do not endorse.

You are right that the LGBT community is not a protected class in Indiana, and so such discrimination is not illegal there. I would argue that it should be a protected class, and that such discrimination should be.

I think these laws are largely about making it possible to discriminate. Regardless of what the Pew numbers say, I think that those who defend or promote these laws are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history.

What I find really interesting about this debate is that it seems to be pitting the fiscally conservative business community against social conservatives ... it isn't just Tim Cook and Apple fighting this legislation, but also organizations like NASCAR.

You may want to turn this into a debate between "his crowd" and your "circle of friends,: but I'm not sure it is that simple. But I also think, to be honest, that 10 or 20 years from now, our children will wonder what the hell this argument was all about ... in the same way that my children find it incomprehensible when I told them how I got in trouble as a kid when I was visiting relatives in South Carolina and drank from a "Negeoes-only" water fountain.

From another reader:

You’re missing the point.

The bill provides the right to practice religious liberty for individuals in Indiana. It is NOT a right to discriminate. This bill keeps government from infringing on the religious rights of Hoosiers. Contrarians have hijacked this as a “discrimination rights” law. The law does not give anyone the right to discriminate or deny services. IT JUST DOESN’T no matter how many times people may say it! This is a smear tactic to mischaracterize the bill (the word 'gay' does not even appear in the bill).

The political question is why the smear campaign in Indiana after 30 other states/jurisdictions have adopted similar laws? Clinton passed a federal law in 1993 and was applauded. And Obama voted for a similar bill for Illinois.

It is a separate question if businesses are discriminating against patrons. They will lose in the marketplace and in the public arena. How about we all just live by the golden rule to treat others as we expect to be treated.


I think the key to your argument rests in one number: 1993.

That was 22 years ago. A lot has changed in 22 years. Y'think that anyone would have believed then that 37 states would have legal same-sex marriage in 2015?

I think the argument that Clinton signed such a federal law in 1993 and that Obama subsequently supported such a law while an Illinois state senator is what misses the point.

Another MNB user wrote:

While I agree with you on most retailer/supplier issues to our business, understand one thing that trumps anything you or others may say on this issue!

This Country was founded on one major issue!  The right to religious freedom.

People didn't run from religious oppression to just open a business.

And like it or not the state can make their own rules.  If that weren't true Colorado would not be selling pot.

By the way there are 19 other states that have like rules in effect!

While religious freedom absolutely was a prime motivator in the formation of this country, I'm sort of partial to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to peacefully assemble.

But again...we're in a situation where civil rights seem to conflict with religious rights. Compassion and understanding and tolerance would seem to be called for. But where I would draw the line is where religious beliefs are used to abridge the civil rights of anyone.

Not everyone in the MNB community disagrees with me on this. One MNB user wrote:

In response to the debate about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, seems like the only logical thing is for these businesses that so adamantly want to protect their “freedoms” to be required to post on their doors (and websites) exactly WHICH groups they choose not to serve.  I think things would sort themselves out pretty quickly if we could let our wallets do the voting.

See the t-shirt above.

From another:

Religious Freedom Restoration Act!!!…Western Civilization has survived and thrived despite the religious cults coming from the Middle East…and will also survive the mystery cult of revisionist politicians.

And another:

Very insightful and helpful information in your “Your Views” section on this. While I am the right wing conservative the Press has warned you about, I am also one who thinks this bill is a load of crap.

I know a number of conservative Republicans who are really upset with this debate ... because, they say, it has just turned this question into one that will be asked at every presidential debate in the 2016 election, and that will detract from the issues on which they would prefer to focus. They say that GOP presidential candidates will have to support the law in order to win the primary races, but that this will make it much tougher to win the general election.

They are not amused.

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