Happy Valentine's Day: French Subway Shut Down for Homophobic Holiday Promotion
Just when you thought the French gay marriage debate couldn't get any more childish, a particularly unenlightened Subway franchisee (of all people!) comes along and lets you know that the abyss of petty bigotry is, in fact, bottomless.
The protest marches were silly and disappointing enough, but protest marches are such a common sight in France that I guess it's not that shocking.
The absurd "amendment battle" waged by the conservative UMP party in the Assemblée Nationale—which involved the presentation of over 5000 amendment proposals to the gay marriage law, including additions that would have us legalize bigamy and incest along with gay marriage—was ridiculous and wasteful, but behavior like this is business as usual in modern lawmaking bodies.
In any case, the law finally passed and now awaits only formal approval by the French Senate and perhaps a hopeless attempt by the UMP to have it declared unconstitutional. Gay marriage is here, folks. Finally.
So it's done, right? Time to move on to other, more pressing concerns, like whatever the hell the French army is doing in Mali, right?
Thursday morning, St. Valentine's Day customers at a Subway restaurant in the Loire Valley city of Angers were greeted with the sign pictured on the right, posted in the store window offering a special discount for couples...but only if said couples consist of a man and a woman.
Underneath this brilliant bit of marketing, in small print, we find the
explanation (I did not attempt to translate the banjaxed French contained
"Is this discrimination (?): No...the marriage equality law may have moved forward, but it has not yet been ratified by the Senate. Until it is, I am employing the law of freedom of expression."
Wow, I didn't know that the great great great great grandson of Jean-Jacques Rousseau was running a Subway in the Loire Valley!
Some good has come out of this, however:
- The Subway mothership, genuinely embarrassed (and no doubt concerned by the nearly immediate calls on various social media networks for a boycott of Subway nationwide), immediately published an apology and, to put some oomph behind it, voluntarily shut the store down Friday afternoon, hitting the feckless franchisee in the only place where he's likely to feel any regret;
- The editors of Le Monde were given the opportunity to be clever—always a potential show-stopper—leading off the breaking story with the title, INDIGESTIBLE: Subway Restaurant Closed for Homophobic Discrimination;
- Hooray for social media (did I really just write that?)! As told by Le Parisien, it was first Twitter and then Facebook that enabled both an immediate response from gay rights groups and Subway brass, as well as facilitating the immortalization of the incredibly poor taste of a Sandwich Artist gone wrong, and
- The fact that someone, somewhere in France has even considered the idea of bringing his or her sweetheart to Subway for Valentine's Day has been revealed to public health authorities and social scientists alike.
Meh, I suppose it's a pretty small piece of the "marriage for everyone" puzzle that's been sordidly putting itself together over the past year or so, but it still stinks...and it underscores once again the limits of the French "live and let live" social ideal that I normally find so refreshing compared to life on the other side of the Atlantic.