Bacon Fracas
It’s not as delicious as it sounds.

Out of the frying pan... (Dreamstime)


James Lileks

Today’s Internet Outrage has to do with a Vermont café caving in to one (1) anti-bacon remark on a website. The trouble began at the “Winooski Front Porch Forum,” which is available only to Winooskites, but the story leaked out in a local TV report:

A sign on a lamp post at the bottom of the Winooski Circle displayed the words “Yield [for] Sneakers Bacon” until Friday morning. The bistro owners took it down.

It got there as part of “Operation Bloom,” a city program put in place to keep its flower beds beautiful. If businesses do some gardening they can post an advertisement where they do it, but the word “bacon” on the Sneakers Bistro sign started a discussion about diversity on the Winooski Front Porch Forum. It started with a post from one woman who wrote that the sign was insensitive to those who do not consume pork. She said as a vegan living in a Muslim household she is personally offended by it.

In this day and age, any public manifestation of an idea that differs with yours is a tort. You suspect everyone just wanted to avoid a lawsuit; it’s public terrain, and the Constitution is rather clear on the separation of Bacon and State. It’s a good thing the sign didn’t mention bagels, or someone would have complained because of Gaza. The narcissism of the constantly offended is automatic and fierce: Enough about Ukraine! What about Mekraine?

Well, once the sign was down, the Internet took a deep breath, spat on its hands, and got to work. First, the story had to go global. The matter was picked up by a British newspaper, which put the issue like this: “[The sign] asked motorists to ‘yield for Sneaker’s [Bistro] Bacon’ but the female complainant, speaking on a community forum, described it as insensitive to her as she did not consume pig meat due to religious reasons.”

“Top Commenter” Aamir Jamil wrote: “Isn’t it amazing, how due to the area i can pretty much say it was most likely a Jew, but the article would have stated straight away [if] it were a Muslim.” As the saying goes, Aamir, when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you, and umption. Or something like that.

The next step: clumsy attempts to defuse the matter on Facebook, where the café said it was “here to serve breakfast, not politics.” Alas, agreeing to ix-nay the acon-bay was cultural politics at its most raw, and only slightly less annoying than putting duct tape over the word on the menu lest the forbidden arrangement of vowels and consonants cause someone to feel disrespected. Trigger warning! On request the staff will spell out the word in a soundproof booth, after consent forms have been signed.

The café also said it had removed the sign for “safety reasons.” Apparently it had a habit of coming off in the wind and flying around town, decapitating squirrels.

Next step: The restaurant gets hammered in the Facebook posts, where people who live in Guam vow never to eat at the restaurant. This is the worst, for ordinary folk just trying to make a living: Once the pitchfork brigade finds your page, you wake up to hundreds of denunciatory posts cursing your bloodline to sputter out so the earth is scourged of your type. Yesterday you were serving chicken-fried steak; today you’re EVERYTHING WRONG WITH AMERICA.

So you delete the Facebook page — in Internet terms, you move from your house and burn it down and salt the earth and nuke it from orbit. That should do it. Except it lives on in a cache, which the ever-helpful Google serves up with a click. Now your website is like Jacob Marley’s ghost, floating around, clanking his chains. These links I forged in life! Some were links to a pdf of our menu. Some were sausage links with maple flavor.