Friday, August 11, 2006

Standing Ground in Kansas

I got a link to this story in one of my email newsletters and thought it was just too funny (and disturbing) not to share. There are actually two versions of the story - one from a local news channel and one on PlanetOut. Feel free to click on the links and read them for yourselves.

In summary, the story is about a guy and his wife who run a small restaurant and Bed & Breakfast in Meade, KS (between Dodge City and Liberal) and the fallout they're facing for hanging a rainbow flag outside their establishment. The local newspaper ran a story (without talking to them about it first) explaining to people that the flag is a symbol of gay pride, so now the town is boycotting. He had a radio station threaten to pull his ads from the air and a pastor tell him it was like putting a pair of women's underwear on a pole - huh?!?!?!

What makes this story so funny is that the flag wasn't put up to convey any kind of political or social message. It was a gift from the guy's son who got it at the Wizard of Oz museum because it reminded him of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I don't know how old the son is, and if there weren't other meanings in the gift, but I think it's hilarious that something that could be so benign is causing so much of a ruckus. Ah, small town America. The other funny thing is the way in which this guy is responding. He told the pastor he would consider his suggestion (the women's underpants) and has told people that when this flag wears out, he'll buy another one and continue to replace it like he would his American flag (which is also hung proudly outside the building). He can't believe how much this has affected people and refuses to cave in to their overreactions. Good for him!!

I think the one comment that got me the most was one of the neighbors who said (paraphrased) that hanging the rainbow flag in their conservative town was like hanging the Nazi flag in a Jewish neighborhood. Whoa. I have to think about that. This is America and we all have freedom of speech, so the guy can say whatever he wants, but is it really THAT dramatic?! Most of the townspeople didn't seem to know what the flag meant (or could mean to some people) before the newspaper article. It makes me wonder what will happen when someone in the town comes out of the closet - or if that will ever happen now. Anyway, it sounds like the guy's business has lost a lot of local people but is still doing okay thanks to out of town guests. Perhaps someday we'll take a mini-vacation to Meade, KS....


Eric said...

Isn't that a hoot?!? It'll be too bad if anyone (like the B&B owner) suffers as a result of the misunderstanding. But I sure salute him for keeping the flag up. If my daughter bought me any kind of gift like that, one that accidentally made a statement, I think I would do the same thing.

America has been described as "Advanced Citizenship." I believe in that concept. To me, it means paying very close attention to your decisions and actions, and being clear about what is right. Taking down the flag at the B&B would make all the wrong statements, starting with the idea that the owner is ashamed of his son's gift for a ridiculous reason, giving in to the town's pressure to avoid making waves, choosing to prioritize potential business loss over things like family and The Constitution, and the list goes on... In a country where your actions are dictated to you, you don't have any responsibility to think about these things. But in a free society, sometimes little events have great meaning. Advanced Citizenship.

hipchickmamma said...

how do you have the wizard of oz without a rainbow? did the townsfolk deem noah's story inappropriate for sunday school?

what a f'ed up world we live in. freaking sad and pathetic.

i could laugh a little at first, but the more it sits with me the more disturbing it is and more difficult to laugh about. i know i shouldn't be suprised. but it still surpises me a every time i am faced with such ridiculous and hateful crapola.

i think a family trip to meade's bandb is in order? where the heck is meade?

a soulforce meeting there might be very interesting as well.;>)

Art said...

Don't you just love the self-righteous ignorance of small-town America? (And small mid-sized town America, and larger mid-sized town America and small urban America and...)

Trouble said...

why hasn't the local news picked up the story on the women's underwear on the pole in my yard?

here's the thing: some people are so fearful or angry that they will find a way to act out on it, regardless. people have choices about how they will respond to almost anything. way to often we choose the paranoid or angry or quick-to-judge response.

the fact that these folks jumped to conclusions and then acted out in fear is a sign of the emotional infancy of those involved.

good on the B&B owner for demonstrating his tolerence for their intolerence. that is loving compassion.

mandyc said...

trouble, those are prayer flags, not underwear in our yard. :) some people can't tell the difference.

hipchick, i think you're right on that a trip is in order - how about an "extended" family of choice trip. i love to stay at B&B's!! :)

I notice that bug unit is abnormally silent these days... hope all is well in the unit household.

Big Unit said...

All is well. I have been trying to aviod this one because I won't be able to stop after my initial comments.

I TOTALLY agree that the town and those people are totally out of line. There is no excuse for them. But at the same time I think of so many things on the other side of the spectrum. Everyone freaking out over some Christian symbol being displayed in public, etc.

Hipchic has it right - "what a f'ed up world we live in. freaking sad and pathetic."

I have been the victim of assumptions in a major way before and it sucks to know you haven't done anything wrong and everybody assumes so.

Sign me up for that trip; assuming we aren't staying at the gay lake cabin (we have some gay friends who have a cabin at Lake Eufalua, that we stay at sometimes w/ them, sometimes by ourselves.)

Spirit & Flesh said...

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Blessings to you and your ministry!!!!!