When Papa John’s announced, “Recent events have compelled us to take a deep look at ourselves to ensure our culture is diverse, inclusive & equitable for all,” I knew the stock price was going to fall.
It may seem innocuous and, moreover, laudable. Being accepting and tolerant of others are good values to uphold. But in the context of identity politics and the critical divide among Americans, it only means one thing: Papa John’s was going full political correctness.
Any way you slice it, pizza and politics don’t mix. The divide is bad enough on a college campus, so keep the politics away from my pepperoni. Over 3,300 people went to Twitter to express their grievances with the new PC Papa. At least 75 percent of them were negative. Many rightfully noting that they were extremely unsatisfied that Papa John’s was contributing to the ideologies that have caused the rift in Western countries. The top comment with 1,898 likes mocked the new direction. It said, “I’m concerned that white people working at a company making traditional Italian food may be a level of cultural appropriation I’m not comfortable with. What assurance can you provide that your company is respecting the Italian roots of pizza?”
The big Papa himself took notice. John Schnatter could not watch his baby swallow the PC poison pill. The social justice narrative is the antithesis of John’s character. John supported Trump’s campaign and was strongly against the NFL anthem protests. Because of his political alignments, the media tried to sully Papa John by implying that he contributed to a toxic corporate culture. Now his company was succumbing to the social justice mob that had it out for him.
As the majority shareholder, Schnatter had the power to force a hostile takeover and take back his legacy. However, the new management announced a stockholders rights plan that would force Shnatter to pay a premium to acquire additional stock. On the Monday morning following the drama, the stock fell 8 percent from $51.58 to $46.56. The stock has been declining since.
The backlash to Schnatter’s misconstrued statements from a private conversation with his marketing agency has been blown out of proportion. Schnatter, although misguided in using the slur, was using it to make a point about Colonel Sander’s indiscreet use of the word. Schnatter added that he found racism appalling. In this mad society, it appears that context, nuisance and truth don’t matter. Use the wrong word and the mob will be waiting for you with their septum piercings and asymmetrical neon-dyed haircuts.
An unreasonable horde crashing on your front door can be a blessing in disguise. Antler is a game meat restaurant in Toronto, Canada. It reaped international attention when a group of unruly vegans protested its existence for refusing to display their demands. The owner, Michael Hunter, did not oblige. He did the opposite and antagonized the mob by carving up a deer leg in the window. The video went viral, and Antler booked out its reservations for the next three months.
Another big name coming out of Toronto is the lobsterman himself, Jordan Peterson. Peterson’s refusal to use the epithets of tyrannical left-wing ideologues launched his stardom. Because of his defiance of tyranny, Peterson is a best-selling author, and tours the world promoting his antidote for chaos: personal responsibility. The first lesson in his book is to stand up straight with your shoulders back; not to bend over to the will of madness.
Papa John’s should have listened to Peterson’s message, and it looks like they and their shareholders are paying the price. John Schnatter announced that he had no faith in the new CEO. Neither do I. After pineapple, politics is the worst pizza topping.