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The Backlash to the Backlash for the Pizza Place Adopting RFRA – Part 2 [e175]

Nasir and Matt continue their discussion on the pizza place that adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the unexpected support they got as a result.

Transcript:

NASIR: All right. Welcome to our podcast where we cover business in the news and add our legal twist. My name is Nasir Pasha.
MATT: And I’m Matt Staub.
NASIR: And welcome to Part 2 of the two-part episode.
MATT: Part 2 of two.
NASIR: Part 2 of two. You know how, on Google Maps, you can create a Google Place for your business? So, they created a pizza place in the spot where that Memories Pizza is and replaced it with something like Gay Pizza or something like that.
MATT: Original.
NASIR: Very original.
MATT: Yeah.
NASIR: I think they made it Gay Memories Pizza or something like that in a humorous picture of something. Who knows?
MATT: So, we had the backlash to this place, the pizza place. Now, we have the backlash to the backlash on them. Well, it’s jumped up even higher. There is a GoFundMe page that was started. At the time we’re recording, this has been up for one day. I guess this guy who’s apparently not even affiliated with the pizza place was trying to raise $200,000. Right now, it’s at $640,000.
NASIR: It literally raised $100,000 in the last – what? Twenty minutes.
MATT: Yeah.
NASIR: Twenty or thirty minutes. I don’t know if they update it right away but this is in one day and raised by how many people? 21,000 different people.
MATT: Well, if you read the thing, he said they set up the GoFundMe page with the modest goal of $25,000. It’s obviously been bumped up to $200,000. The goal was to give the pizza place money to have the media stop kind of pestering them. I think you can do something with that. It’ll be over a million dollars at the end of this day, I would expect, based on the growth that’s happened so far.
NASIR: Yeah, you may be right which is pretty crazy since it’s only been a day. So, you’re probably right.
MATT: I mean, this looks like this is started by some guy who’s not even affiliated with the company in any way, shape, or form.
NASIR: Yeah, what is his obligation to actually give the money to these people? Seriously, it’s crazy. I’m just looking at, let’s see their terms and service, I’m trying to find it which is becoming difficult. So, donating money – “donators should only contribute payments to GoFundMe users they personally know and trust. We’re often asked how a donor can tell the authencity of a personal cause found on GoFundMe. Unfortunately, there is no way to 100 percent guarantee that a user’s GoFundMe donation page contains accurate or truthful information. As such, donors should not make payments to any campaigns or people unless they fully understand and trust the cause presented.” There you go. GoFundMe taking no responsibility, saying, “Hey! You know, we’re going to take a percentage but you are responsible who you give it to.”
MATT: Well, listening to that, he is being truthful. It’s not like he’s starting a fake page where he’s pretending to be the pizza place. At the end, he says, “All money, minus whatever percentage GoFundMe takes, will be transferred directly to whichever bank account the owners of the place wish to use.”
NASIR: Okay, and I guess he’s a part of this television show on Blaze TV where they interviewed the owners and I guess he does have some kind of public personality so perhaps he’s somewhat trustworthy. I guess he’s not going to take the money and run.
MATT: If he did though…
NASIR: That’d be a great story. I just love how GoFundMe just says, “Oh, you know, it’s your responsibility.” In fact, GoFundMe sounds like a great place to scam people. It’s like perfect.
MATT: Super Troopers 2, they were trying to raise money on there for the movie.
NASIR: They raised a bunch too, right?
MATT: Yeah, they were trying to raise over $2M. They did that pretty quickly but they had all these, a few gave this amount of money, you get this prize or this perk. One person started his own GoFundMe page to raise money to give to the movie to get one of the perks. Does that make sense?
NASIR: Yeah.
MATT: Like, there was a $25,000 thing and he started his own page to try to get people to give him money so he could donate to them to get the perk out of that. Yeah, I mean, GoFundMe, I don’t know if there’s different types of a GoFundMe versus a Kickstarter versus whoever. I don’t know if certain places go to certain spots.
NASIR: To me, they’re all the same because to actually enforce, I mean, we’ve dealt with this both with our clients and with, you know, just on the podcast. Even Kickstarter. The obligations to actually have the person or company that’s being funded to perform is so difficult, right? I mean, how are users even supposed to know if a product launch gets delayed, whether the money is gone and gone, how are they supposed to know? Let’s say they find out that is has gone, how are they going to even get their money back? Most people, even if it’s worth it, even if they have an ability to go after them, it’s only a small amount per user so some lawyer would have to do some kind of class and collectability is an issue. It’s a losing situation. But, anyway, back to our story…
One thing we should mention is that I think it was just today that the governor actually signed into law – I believe this is the case; if not, by the time this is airing, it’ll be in law – that revised or amended the RFRA statute in Indiana to specify certain protections for gay and lesbians. In the last episode, we talked about how, from a federal level, sexual orientation is not a protected class, but there are on state levels and, if Indiana passes that language, then it may start protecting that particular class and so, just like you can’t discriminate against gender or for race or for handicap and things like that or disability I should say, you will not be able to discriminate for sexual orientation with in conjunction with the so-called Freedom of Religion Act.
And, in defense of the legislature – it’s hard to defend these pizza owners, they’re just kind of… anyway – but I think it’s a very slippery slope. If the intention was to allow people to discriminate based upon religion, it’s a very difficult situation. I don’t think most people would support that even if they are against gay marriage, for example, and I think we can differentiate between gay marriage and not serving a pizza to somebody because they’re gay. It’s a much different issue.
There’s something called a public accommodation that, when you’re offering pizza, when you have a website – a good example was, it wasn’t Christian Mingle, it was one of those dating websites and they were being sued because, look, they offer this dating service to everyone and yet they’re discriminating against, you know, sexual orientation and things like that and, because they are a public accommodation business where they’re offering their services to the public, they were prohibited from discrimination. That’s opposed to a closely held private club that only allows, you know, men or women, et cetera. But, as soon as you start opening it to the public, and there’s been many businesses that have gotten into trouble with this, even trade organizations that are “women only” centered organizations can get into trouble with this if they’re considered a public accommodation.
Getting back to the point, it’s a very dangerous path to take that most people would disagree that, if you’re offering a product or a service to the public, then, really, it should be non-discriminatory. I mean, it should be clear in that respect.
MATT: Yeah. I mean, that’s always a good rule of thumb, right? Don’t do something in a discriminatory fashion.
NASIR: Yeah, that’s true. So, you’re in support of not discriminating against those that are not to be discriminated against.
MATT: I’m against people that don’t like to not discriminate.
NASIR: Okay. Very well. We’ll agree to agree.
MATT: See if that can get transcribed correctly. Let’s see how that comes out in the text version of this episode. Did we cover everything with this? There’s so much going on.
NASIR: Honestly, I think we need to cover GoFundMe in more detail because this company is worrying me a little bit. It’s like they’re just not taking any responsibility and I don’t like that.
All right. Well, I think that’s our episode. Thanks for joining us for our first two-parter.
MATT: Keep it sound and keep it smart.

Nasir Pasha & Matt Staub

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