A Facebook post made by the owner of an auto repair shop last week has gone viral, fomented a Yelp rainbow makeover (NSFW), and sparked a peaceful protest at the Michigan shop on Saturday.
The owner of Dieseltec, Brian Klawiter, has since pointed out that he wrote about a lot of things in Tuesday’s post (currently unavailable): gun rights, discounts for customers bringing guns to the shop, entitlement mentality, thievery, immorality, and more.
But what has particularly raised ire is Klawiter’s statement that he’d be fine with refusing service to openly gay people, something which he does have a right to do under Michigan law.
I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. ...)
…along with what many have interpreted as a threat to reassemble gay people’s cars in a shoddy manner:
If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.
For what it’s worth, Klawiter went on to say that he hadn’t threatened to put anybody’s car together incorrectly.
Rather, he said, it was meant as a metaphor (all quotations are sic):
I never threatened to intentionally put someones vehicle together wrong, use you sense, (although it may not have been the best way to elaborate) You need a bolt and a nut to hold something together, two bolts can not, and two nuts can not, you must have one of each, a male and a female. Get it now?
Yelp reviewers soon festooned Dieseltec’s page with pictures of a unicorn beaming out hearts to President Obama, a rainbow or two, religious images, and men engaged in intimate moments.
Along with the imagery, a flood of one-star reviews have been written by people who presumably haven’t actually been to the shop and just wanted to slam the business because of its owner’s Facebook post.
We saw the same thing happen last year, when Google Glass Explorers vilified a New York City restaurant that banned their gadgets.
This is only the latest skirmish in a US cultural war over gay rights that has included states passing laws that would let business owners use their religious beliefs to justify denying services to some people.
Backlash has gone, well, back and forth, as businesses such as Dieseltec get trashed online and supporters react by rushing to pour money into them via crowdfunding.
One such is a pizza parlor in Indiana that has received nearly $1 million in funds from sympathetic GoFundMe contributors after telling a local news outlet that it would refuse to cater a gay wedding.
Many of us who support lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) rights are amused and sympathetic when we see some of the funny comments and pictures posted on Yelp.
But Klawiter claimed in a subsequent Facebook post that comments have also turned sinister, including threats to kill him, his family and his friends, and to burn down the shop and his home.
Whatever we think about someone’s statements and beliefs, it’s unfair to cyber-gang up on people, to leave bogus reviews on a business’s Yelp listing, and to cyberbully them with threats.
It was wrong when Yelp reviewers did it to the NYC restaurant, and it’s just as wrong to do it to an auto shop, regardless of the owner’s beliefs.
It’s also counter-productive.
Flooding his Yelp page with reviews and his Facebook page with comments has caused Dieseltec’s page to rise into the spotlight.
After all, the first Yelp review it ever received stemmed from all this drama.
Also, as the Huffington Post reports, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for Dieseltec, though it was eventually removed.
Let’s all go forth and review, but let’s keep our reviews honest, not vindictive. That means reviewing only those businesses we’ve ever stepped foot in.
And let’s all feel free to add comments to Facebook posts we agree with or deeply disagree with, but please, let’s keep the discourse civil and threat-free.
Cyberbullying is illegal, as it should be, regardless of whether we’re ganging up on an underdog or a pitbull.
11 comments on “Auto shop’s controversial anti-gay Facebook post sparks cyber backlash”
I support his right to run his business how ever he chooses. Don’t like it, leave the US.
What does his poor choice of doing business have to do with whether or not someone stays or doesn’t stay in the US?
Only someone who is anti-American would ever tell another citizen to leave if they don’t like it in America. The whole point of this nation is to have to right to do as one chooses within the law, and suggesting they leave rather than working to make the law more fair to everyone is totally against everything America stands for.
The whole point of this nation is that everyone has the “FREEDOM” to do as they choose NOT the right. There is a difference. Our rights are enumerated in the constitution which is illuminated by the federalist papers not the rantings modern lawyers and judges that have no understanding of the events and times that the constitution was written in.
In my opinion, being a Naturalized citizen, if you aren’t smart enough to discern the difference between our nations freedoms and your twisted wish list of entitlements then you should spend a few years in another country to help get your head screwed on right. Let me suggest China, Cuba, or Russia. Perhaps you’ll develop a real appreciation for what America has to offer and stop trying to abuse and degrade her.
Straight from the stupid is as stupid does file, this guy is an idiot whose “badvertising” could turn any customer away regardless of their social viewpoint. A corrupt mechanic did that to my steering (I had angrily called his bluff that I needed new shocks) and I discovered his “work” at 55MPH with my car literally jumping from lane to lane on the interstate. Klawiter is unforgiving of others to the point of advocating negligent homicide in Christ’s name– behaving exactly like the self righteous Pharisees whom Christ identified as children of the devil.
While Mr Klawiter truly is free to run his business in the manner he chooses, he’s certainly not running it in a Christian way. He’s saying that he reserves the right to refuse service based on his perceptions, regardless of whether or not a person is actually guilty of the sins to which he ascribes to them.
Unlike so-called Christians of today, Christ accepted and welcomed all, regardless of their sins, and NO ONE IS WITHOUT SIN, which means that if Mr. Klawiter is being truly honest, he must turn away every person who darkens his doorstep.
It’s too bad that Christ’s teachings have been twisted to the point that only the arrogantly self-righteous are eligible for inclusion in God’s kingdom.
Hate to break it to you, while Christ was welcoming to all, He also called people out on their sin. You don’t get a pass for doing something wrong. So yes, while Christians are called to be understanding, they are not called to be accepting of sin. Christians should be the first to admit that they are sinful, but that they fight against that every day.
Mr. Klawiter should have the right to make this decision for his business and he will face the consequences of this decision from both sides. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to see and accept that instead of attacking people because they don’t agree
Respectfully, I disagree with you about leaving bad reviews. Advertising, including his FB posts, are **part of his business practices* and it is perfectly acceptable to review those business practices on Yelp or similar sites. If one has not set foot in the store, it is still OK to leave a review of the bad advertising specifically – to say, “This business gets one star because they publicly discriminate against and vilify gays (or Muslims, or women or whomever).”
Interesting point. Thanks for the comment. I still maintain that the purpose of Yelp is to serve as a platform for reviews of the business and its products/services, not of the business owner’s prejudices. Were those prejudices to manifestin an exchange with a customer, absolutely they should feed into the review, given that they influence the quality of service. But I do appreciate what you’re saying.
In this case the business owner’s prejudices have manifested in an exchange with potential customers who have only got as far as looking at the facebook post concerned. As a result I’m not sure it’s particularly relevant whether someone is an actual customer or not if that interaction has caused offence.
There’s a debate about a similar issue that’s been going on in Northern Ireland, where a bakery refused to make a cake with a pro- gay marriage slogan for a campaign group as it clashed with their christian beliefs. Unlike Michigan, NI does not have a law specifically allowing discrimination in provision of services, though there is some argument over whether the business fell foul of anti discrimination law in refusing the work. The politicians have since been arguing over whether there should be a get out clause in the anti discrimination laws in the case of “sincerely held religious beliefs” – which is basically what this case is about too.
In practise this sort of behaviour should be weeded out naturally by the market – if a business doesn’t cater for the gay community (10 – 20% of the population? Not sure – probably depends on the area) then they will be less competitive in the long run and will eventually be out competed by business rivals with more inclusive customer policies. However, this doesn’t account for businesses that are openly discriminatory being able to gather a loyal following from those who support their views.
Personally I find this sort of open bigotry distasteful, but I doubt it needs to be explicitly outlawed, as my assumption is it will die out in the longer term. However, I would argue that negative online feedback over discriminatory business practice is fair game, as long as it’s not in itself unlawful (threats/defamation etc.).
Yelp has deleted all of the reviews and forwarded an email to all those that posted on Dieseltec’s yelp page. I have since deleted my Yelp account because I feel that Yelp’s failure to take a stand says that they don’t strongly support the LGBT community.
Time and time again we see proof that those who make the most noise about tolerance are in fact the least tolerant of all.