Auto Repair Shop Goes On Homophobic Facebook Rant, Subsequently Gets Tackled On Yelp
The wheels of Internet justice, once they get to turning, are swift and mighty. The latest example: an auto repair shop in Michigan whose Yelp page was targeted by people who didn't take kindly to the owner's recent offensive and homophobic comments. Because if there's one thing people just don't seem to understand, it's that in the age of the Internet, you don't just get to be a bigot without risking the consequences.
This whole thing began on Tuesday when the owner of the Dieseltec auto repair shop in Granville, Michigan, Brian Klawiter, penned a lengthy, rambling post on Facebook which was basically a grab bag of conservative themes. He began by saying "Enough is enough," and shortly enough declared that, "Well, freedom of speech isn’t just for Liberals." He continued, "THEY are the ones that need to learn to ‘co-exist’, THEY are the ones who need to WORK to be ‘equal’.” Gee, I didn't know that equality was something we needed to prove, rather than something that was a given. I could have sworn that there was this founding document of the United States that said otherwise...
Klawiter then laid out his business plan, which includes running his company as a good Christian by, among other things, refusing service to LGBT people. Because as we all know, Jesus was all about sending away people who were different. That's why he hung out with poor people, the sick, the homeless, and others on the outskirts of society. Because those were the ones everyone approved of, obviously.
"I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons," he declared. "Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works." Which, apart from being a fairly obtuse analogy for same-sex couples (are we to assume that God created human beings to be governed by the same laws that govern modern machinery?), is also vaguely concerning language from an auto repair shop.
Needless to say, a lot of people did not take too kindly to the post. Klawiter may have concluded by encouraging people to go "cry to your momma," but since real humans are not actually the weird stereotypes of crybaby liberals that conservatives get so hung up on, people took to Yelp instead.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous instances of homophobic businesses having their Yelp pages overrun by reviews and comments from LGBT people and allies, including a recent pizza parlor in Indiana and a bigoted restaurant in Oklahoma City that last year found themselves being heralded online as an "epicenter of gayness." But even by the already impressive standards set by past instances of Yelp justice, I have to say, the Dieseltec page is a work of art.
As of now, the page has been scrubbed clean — but since the Internet is forever, it was immortalized for all time before it was wiped. Dozens of LGBT-themed memes and photos were uploaded to the page so that when you first visited, this was the first thing you saw:
Of the several dozen reviews for the business on Yelp, literally all were posted after Klawiter's Facebook message, and all seemed to be in response to it. Some "patrons" made the place out to be a flamboyantly gay establishment, while others expressed their anger at Klawiter's comments.
Another commenter posted a link to an opencourtrecords.com page showing that someone named Brian Klawiter from Michigan (whom they claim to be the same Brian Klawiter, but which has not been confirmed) has been twice convicted of assault.
So far, not looking good for the business.
Klawiter posted on Facebook yesterday saying that he did not mean his "nuts and bolts" analogy as a threat or to imply that he would purposefully put someone's car together wrong, but otherwise standing by his statements."I am not qualified nor worthy to get in to theology," he wrote. "I set some ground rules for how I operate my life; do I not have the right to do that?" He also claimed that people have made threats against his life and his family, which if true is obviously not at all OK.
Yelp reviews, on the other hand? Well, I'm personally of the opinion that if you're going to drag your personal views into how you run your business and allow them to influence who you're willing to have as a customer, then it's not out of line for people to express their disagreement by opposing your business's success. You don't have to like LGBT people, but you do have to treat them with respect. And if your business isn't going to respect them, then they don't have to show any respect to your business.