5.24.2007

What the Hell is a "Collective" Anyways?

I was a cashier throughout high school. I was promoted to seafood clerk when I turned 18. It was my summer job until I was 20. When I moved to DC permanently as a college junior, I took a seafood clerk job at the Tenley Whole Foods. I dealt with some disgusting people. A few customers on Cape Cod reacted with disgust when I told them I went to school in Washington. I got a lot of questions and snide remarks about what it must be like living around so many black people. While working at Whole Foods customers would tell me that they weren't comfortable with minorities touching their fish. Truly disgusting people.

I served all of them. I steamed their lobsters, asked if they wanted paper or plastic, and offered to walk their bags to their car. Did I like doing that? Not especially. If I refused to serve them would my employers have had my back? Probably. But it was my job to serve them. So I did.

The University of Maryland doesn't see things the same way. An employee at the Maryland Food Collective, a sandwich stop in their student union, refused to serve a customer. Was the customer abusive or belligerent? No. She was wearing a shirt that offended the cashier. It read: "Baltimore Zionist District" and "I Stand for Israel." The horror!

Here's how the story should have ended: The cashier gets fired. The university tells the Collective and any other employees working on campus grounds that is has to accept the viewpoints of its students. After all, the entire point of a learning institution is to be surrounded by as many opinions as possible, right?

Instead, UMD students end up tripping over each other to show how understanding and politically correct they are.

The collective, which rents space from the university, announced last week that it would serve any customer who was not physically or verbally abusive, but that any worker who was offended by a customer's politics could discreetly slip away and find another clerk to serve the patron.

No. That's wrong. The customer's politics? They can refuse to serve anyone wearing a shirt saying they attended a pro-life rally? They can refuse service to someone who was espousing conservative views in the classroom? Think about how crazy this is. It's a public university! If you can't deal with someone having an opposing viewpoint, please do the world a favor and kill yourself. You are obviously ill-equipped to handle the world and you are only going to be a drain on our precious resources, namely air, water, and space. The cashier is showing a lot of chutzpah (ha!) by being offended that someone had the gall to disagree with her. Especially on a subject as cut-and-dry as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There's hardly any room for disagreement there.

By the way, the cashier is remaining anonymous. Way to stand behind your core beliefs, you fucking coward.

The cashier who refused to serve Lazarus will not talk about the incident because "she would be misrepresented," one co-op worker told me. The workers who would talk to me -- most would not because "the collective speaks collectively," as one member put it [ed note: WTF!?] -- said no one should have to have contact with people whose views they find hurtful.

Oh it is going to be sweet when these people enter the real world. Being forced to acknowledge other views? That's fucking rough.

By the way, I would bet a million dollars that these Collective fucks would be incensed if some ass-douche pharmacist refused to fill out their Plan B prescription.

So, fuck the Collective. I wish I could end this post here. But, alas:

"The arrangement we worked out, while not ideal, is a reasonable accommodation," said Avi Mayer, president of the university's Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance, who joined the meeting with the collective. "I would not want to force anyone to act against their own political beliefs."

(Side note: Am I wrong for capitalizing "Collective"? It's referring to a specific store so it should be capitalized, no? Why isn't the Post capitalizing it?)

What the Hell is going on here? This is ok with you? Not being served at a sandwich shop for being pro-Israel? Why don't people understand why this is so foul? This is only a step away from refusing to serve someone for disagreeing with their religious beliefs. I hate slippery slope theories as much as the next debate team president, but, come on. The connection is easy enough to make.

This story devolves into both camps trying to out-understand the other with politically correct gobbely-gook.

"I would have rung her up," said Kiki -- "no last name, please, we're getting too many ugly phone calls" -- "and nobody was refused service. She paid for her food less than a minute after it happened. But it's hard to gauge. Is it intolerant to say that America's actions in Iraq are intolerant?"

Wait, what? Shut up, Kiki. You're speaking nonsense.

When Lazarus [the spurned customer] and others active in Maryland's Jewish student groups met with the collective, the visitors baked a vegan chocolate cake and brought it as a peace offering. In a letter to the cashier who turned her away, Lazarus was as non-confrontational as could be: "I got the impression that your action at the register was a very 'in the moment,' emotional reaction. Nonetheless, the way you expressed your feelings was not the most constructive."

Oh my God. OH MY GOD. More fuel for my "UMD must be destroyed" argument. Shut up, all of you, you sniveling fucks. Man, if I am ever refused service at a publicly funded institution for wearing a political shirt, I am leaving that fucking place in handcuffs. Someone gets their rights trampled on and she responds with a vegan cake? That is so fucking weak. Grow a pair.

Thank goodness for the stellar (as usual) work of Washington Post Metro columnist Marc Fisher. He, like me and other reasonable humans, sees right through the very thick layer of bullshit. I can't believe these college students are so cavalier about First Amendment rights. What a disgrace. At least UMD told the Collective to cut this out or lose their lease. Now if they could only get around to not admitting these twat-waffles in the first place.

26 comments:

  1. Someone please explain to me the people who claim to be liberals and yet are more intolerant than, like, David Duke. Rusty, do you remember when, at AU, kids from a radical group on campus posted pro-Palestine fliers all over the chapel during a Yom Kippur service? That was out-and-out Anti-Semitic. Anyway, I'm not surprised by this. Just disgusted.

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  2. Rusty for once you are not a Douche .... I am proud of this post

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  3. How to make a Vegan Chocolate Cake:

    1 cup of pretentious global awareness.

    1/2 teaspoon Noam Chomsky.

    2 cups of "the kind."

    1 tablespoon of NPR's This American Life.


    Mix together until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 years or until college graduation. Remove from oven, get a job, sell out, and vote Republican.

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  4. you said the collective is renting the space from umd?

    therefore, umd doesn't really have any say over the business that is run from that space, does it? sure maryland owns the space, but then, could a landlord just evict a resident because he wanted to? point is: there's probably nothing maryland can do about it until the contract is up and if the outside company will refuse to serve all students in hawaiian shirts, well, the university is probably powerless to that.

    regardless that it's a public institution, i think this may be out of maryland's hands.

    is that right?
    well, i never said that.

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  5. oops, i didn't read the past part of your entry. yeah, pretty much maryland can only end the lease...

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  6. Sure, yeah, first amendment, whatever, that UMD food co-op makes a delicious tofu salad sandwich.

    Sorry, Rusty. I agree with you, but I still love vegan food.

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  7. Yeah, you'll need this recipe. If you're handcuffed, I suppose you may need a liberal college girl to help you with it.

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  8. re: the Washington Post not capitalizing collective -- they're using the word as a nonproper noun, the way they might use the word "store" if they were talking about a regular grocery store -- like, if all this took place at a Giant, the post would refer to Giant as "the store" rather than "the Store." (I'm sorry; I'm a copy editor.)

    and... I love your blog.

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  9. Rusty - I Understand your point that you continued to serve racist individuals because that was your job. But you are not a minority yourself, would you have still served those individuals if your wife or child was a minority? For arguments sake - what if the cashier at the Collective had a child in Palestine that was killed by an Israeli? Would you still expect the cashier to serve that person? (I am not weighing in on the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict in ANY WAY I am just being a devil's advocate). It is quite possible that the the cashier had such strong reactions to the shirt that the only way to contain their emotions was to allow another person to serve that individual. Please note - I am just being a devil's advocate. I am in NO WAY stating a position on the conflict.

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  10. As I read the Fisher column, the University did lay down the law:

    "Despite hours of conversation, 'it became apparent that they were not coming to the right conclusion,' [Student Union Director Gretchen] Metzelaars said. 'So we delivered it to them.' This week, she told the collective that if it discriminates again, it will have 60 days to vacate the premises."

    Which is not to say that everyone else doesn't sound like just as much of an asshole as you indicated. They did; but the person working for UMD apparently understood precisely how to avoid lawsuits.

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  11. In reference to 'Cass of Troy'; I'm not sure the debate is whether the actions of the cashier were 'right' or not, but whether the proprietors (UMD or Collective, whichever it is) handled it appropriately. Even if the cashier's family had been victims of Israeli violence, if he or she makes the choice to refuse the customer service, they accept the ensuing punishment, which the owners should have doled out; otherwise, where's the sacrifice? Refusing someone service when you know there are no consequences doesn't mean anything; bottom line, no matter what the cashier's motivation was, the owner has the responsibility to punish (fire, dock pay, whatever is appropriate) said worker.

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  12. first, the lady from the co-op was fired. regardless, the co-op isn't even a real business. the workers don't earn money, and there is no profit. they're so far to left I can't believe anyone is taking them seriously. how can you take people seriously that opt for their tasteless crap when chick fila is a few feet away?

    also, the university told the co-op that if this happened again they would be asked to leave campus. I don't understand what more they should have done. should they have kicked the co-op off campus because of one intolerant worker?

    and while I do enjoy you grouping all 40,000 UMD students together as PC loving "sniveling fucks," I can assure you this is not true. this story was once a letter buried in the middle of the Diamondback. It is now one of the DBK's most commented stories and it's created quite the fire storm on campus. Do you think that if we were all enjoy our free speech rights being taken away, that this story would have found its way to the Washington Post?

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  13. Yawn. Nugatory information.

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  14. @ elisabeth & jim

    I did mention that UMD laid down the law. I kind of buried it in the last paragraph.

    And elisabeth, I never pass on the opportunity to group all UMD students together. Unfair? Yes. But so much fun!

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  15. this is absolutely insane, even though it sounds like fodder for fox news. it still pisses me off. thanks for posting it

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  16. Great point about the pharmacist birth control thing. To retards like this, it's only discrimination if it happens to them, not if they're the ones doing it.

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  17. Isn't this more of a reason why Maryland sucks than a reason to hate DC. Because really... Maryland sucks.

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  18. totally redonk.

    if that would have happened to me, i would have thrown some 'bows.

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  19. hell is gonna be very crowded

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  20. Wow, this is what I wanted to avoid when I left the southwestern suburbs. -- people (of any nutritional or political persuasion) who get their heads stuck up their butts because they never associate with anyone who disagrees with them ever and then pat themselves on the back for freaking out when they find someone that does.

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  21. I worked at this store, back in the late 70s early 80s when it was known as a Food Co-op. First, it was the best and least expensive food for miles around. Second, it not only served anyone, it allowed anyone to work there for food (1 hr. work = food credit equal to the minimum wage). The politics of the workers varied from moderately liberal to hardcore communists and there always was an obscure cause someone was fighting for -- it was a part of the joint's charm. Third, toleration was paramount -- we served the most stoned hippies and prepped-out Greeks with speed, charm and civility. Fourth, and most important, it was truly the most reliable place on campus to score GOOD acid (if you knew the right people). It sounds like a lot has changed at the old Co-op -- but for the sake of campus I hope that last one hasn't.

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  22. "By the way, the cashier is remaining anonymous. Way to stand behind your core beliefs, you fucking coward."

    Ironic comment coming from an anonymous blogger.

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  23. As usual the liberal lie-down. Could anyone from PITA explain what there is to understand about "I don't want anyone to do something he does not agree with politically" fits in here? Chicken bleep. Strictly chicken bleep. I don't look for tolerance any more. I look for good manners and good sense. I promise you that if the patron were wearing a shirt that said "kill the jews" and a jew refused to wait on him or her there would be hell raised by the libs to beat the band. A bit of loud noise would not hurt.

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  24. Actually what the customer did was perfect, there is no action that could have been done to make the Cooperative look more like a complete idiot.

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  25. the definition of "collective" is very confusing to me, i prefer to use the word "group" instead

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