Around these parts, we have Front Porch Forum, a uniquely Vermont Internet development, which provides E-mail lists for every town in the state [sometimes for several neighborhoods within towns, if the towns are large enough]. Like most E-mail lists, it contains classifieds, notices from town government and local services, requests to borrow things, thank you notes and loads of rants. I belong to the Winooski one and one for the neighborhood in Burlington where I work.
A few days ago, someone posted on the Winooski FPF that she didn’t like a sign that Sneakers [restaurant] put up in a little garden in an island near our horrible traffic rotary. It said "Sneakers — Yield to Bacon," which she, as a member of a Muslim household, found insensitive. She added that it was a safety hazard, impeding visibility for drivers and pedestrians, and wished that it was removed.
As Seven Days, our local newsweekly reports, poo flinging ensued. An inevitable backlash of posters castigated the original poster as a coward, a terrorist and the epitome of what was wrong with today’s "politically correct" society. Soon a representative from Sneakers posted, apologizing for upsetting people, explaining the joke behind the sign and adding that the sign would be taken down. The inevitable backlash then apparently subsumed the restaurant in its bitter wash; Seven Days reports that Sneakers has received so much bile on its Facebook page that it took said page down.
For the record, I recognize that the sign was offensive to the original poster, even though it wasn’t intended to be. I disagree with her particular targeting of the Sneakers sign as a danger, however, since other local businesses put up little signs in the sponsored gardens on the rotary islands, and she didn’t seem to have a problem with them. I thought that her original complaint was a reasonable statement and justification of her opinion, and I also appreciate the restaurant’s respectful response. They did include the "Well, we didn’t mean it!" line in their apology for offense, but they did apologize sincerely, and they took down the sign as a gesture of good faith. If only more institutions acted with such sincerity and sensitivity…