Barilla Backlash: A Step Too Far?

The spaghetti hit the wall (and stuck) when Guido Barilla went on Italian radio and said [presumably in Italian] “I would never make an advert with a homosexual family. Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.” Barilla went on to suggest that gay people who had a problem with that eat a different brand of pasta.

So fine, that’s pretty clear cut. I’m going to oblige Guido and eat a different brand of spaghetti. To me– and I would guess a lot of other gay people and their loved ones– Barilla is pasta non grata, now and forever. And it doesn’t matter whether a spokesperson for the company publicly apologizes, or clarifies, or works with GLAAD to achieve what, corporate enlightenment? Who gives a f*ck. I’m just never going to eat their damn pasta again. They, along with Chick fil-A are on my personal consumer sh*t-list in perpetuity.

In addition to banishing the brand from my own kitchen, I think we should give as much publicity as possible to that helpful “eat a different pasta” suggestion. If people are aware of it they can make up their own minds about whether to buy the brand ever again.

But the step too far, I think, is to start petitions demanding that grocery store chains remove Barilla from their shelves.

Enter Linda Ferraro, Italian American Mom. She’s launched a Change.org petition calling on her local grocery store chain to stop carrying Barilla pasta.

Barilla petition
Link to Change.org petition

Ferraro has a gay son, and like so many gay people and their loved ones, she was offended by Guido Barrilla’s comments. “Even though my sons are adults now, no one messes with any of my boys. I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too. Please join me and urge Stop & Shop to take Barilla off their shelves.”

Ms. Ferraro sounds like a nice person and a great Mom, but I don’t think people should sign that petition. Why not instead sign a pledge that says you will never personally buy Barilla pasta again? Here’s a great one via MoveOn.org. It already has 125,000 signatures.

A personal pledge is exercising your pocket book First Amendment rights, it’s not trying to interfere with anyone else’s. Sadly, there are people in this world who agree with Guido Barilla, and we shouldn’t be trying to interfere with their access to that crappy pasta. It can perversely make us look like bullies. Something conservative blowhards are all too quick to accuse us of.

Ferraro’s petition, though it is certainly well-intended, feels too much like coercion. And there are others popping up just like it…

Barilla petition
Link to Change.org petition

Let’s hope if Stop & Shop, Ralph’s, Kroger’s or the local Piggly Wiggly decide to remove Barilla from their shelves it’s because no one is buying it any more. Not because they were petitioned into it.

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