“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C. S. Lewis
Scott Van Duzer, your 15 minutes have come. Earlier this week Mr. Van Duzer, who is the owner of Big Apple Pizza & Pasta in Fort Peirce, FL, made headlines by giving the president a “bear hug” when Mr. Obama happened upon the dining establishment. It was a clear and unabashed political endorsement.
The president of the United States doesn’t just stop in to a restaurant in the midst of a campaign (in a swing state) without knowing if he’s stepping onto friendly ground. Nor does a random business owner “bear hug” the president, lifting him off the ground, without getting severely dealt with by the secret service, unless it’s planned. I mean, if this were just a random thing, then the secret service would likely have been drawing down on this guy the minute he got his arms around POTUS. That didn’t happen though – because it was a planned spontaneous campaign stop.
Now it turns out that Mr. Van Duzer’s political statement may be hurting business. Politico reports that his shop is facing a boycott by offended conservatives. Says Mr. Van Duzer: “People are saying a lot of bad things and boycotting my restaurant … There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”
Let me translate that for you. “I made a brazen political statement in exercise of my freedom of expression, but when others exercise their freedom of association to make a contrary brazen political statement it’s a real problem … especially if it hurts my business!”
I’ve said before that I think we as a country are all better off if we leave boycotts out of the equation. Stratifying the economy does not improve its efficiency. But people are free. If Van Duzer can come out swinging for Obama, then Romney supporters can stop frequenting his shop. That’s freedom.