Roy Exum: When It’s Best To Hush

Monday, December 23, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Just before I went to the Cracker Barrel for my Sunday breakfast, I noticed a news story that said the Tennessee-based restaurant company had publicly announced it would pull “Duck Dynasty” items from its shelves. As I read about the hare-brained decision in disbelief, I couldn’t help but let out a hoot and soon raced to “my” store in Lookout Valley to see if it was true.

Earlier in the week the patriarch of popular TV show was booted off the air by the A&E network after he made some pretty opinionated statements in a magazine interview, including his strong feelings about homosexuality. The resulting firestorm has pitted “freedom of speech” against “political awareness” and only a fool would join either side of that squabble.

Sure enough, some moron at Cracker Barrel headquarters – surely not a man born in the South – promptly gulped down the bait. The poor guy obviously has no grasp of public sentiment and is blind to the barometer that dictates when it’s best to hush.  Far worse, the P.R. buffoon has apparently never been inside an actual Cracker Barrel Country Store; every one of them is crawling with real-life “Duck Commanders!”

“Hey! Where’s the Duck Dynasty stuff!” the devil in me yelped as I asked one of the gift managers and – poor thing -- she looked as though she had just swallowed a canary. “It on the wall around that corner,” she said with her lips pursed just so.

“Good, glad to know it’s still here. Ya’ll aren’t going to pull it to make some foolish political statement, are you?” I asked “Mrs. Canary,” who paused just a wink before she repeated very carefully, “It’s on the wall around that corner.”

Sure enough it was right where “Mrs. Canary” said but there were almost as many “40-percent off” signs as there was merchandise. Clearly the mood was to sell out of “Duck Dynasty” in a hurry and never order any more of it again. But what is totally mystifying is why Cracker Barrel executives decided to announce it rather than quietly allowing the trinkets to disappear. The statement read:

* * *

“Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture. We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.”

* * *

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. The minute the news broke Cracker Barrel’s every-loyal clientele roared, to use a polite word. “Worried about offending gays? What about offending Christians??” was among the first responses and the management team suffered a severe beating. “Where’d they get their education? A Cracker-Jacks box?”

One of the servers and I laughed about it as I ate my breakfast and, if there was any boycott, as the news story hinted, I sure couldn’t tell. The mood was happy, people laughing and getting ready for Christmas. And, yes, there were real-life “Duck Commanders” all over the place. (The way you tell is by the number of guys who eat their entire meal with their hats on. At 11 a.m. yesterday there were nine.)

But what’s this? When I got back to my desk there was a rare Sunday statement from Cracker Barrel headquarters:

* * *

“Dear Cracker Barrel Customer:

“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.

“You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings.  You flat out told us we were wrong.

“We listened.

“Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.

“And, we apologize for offending you.

“We respect all individuals [sic] right to express their beliefs.  We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different [sic].

“We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.”

* * *

Thank goodness. The last thing we need is unnecessary angst, particularly at Christmas time.

royexum@aol.com


Look At The Town Of Signal Mountain Water Options

The town of Signal Mountain is preparing a Request for Proposal so Walden’s Ridge Utility District and Tennessee American Water can have the opportunity to bid on buying our water system. Another option would be to hire a water manager and keep the water system.  The town has approximately 3.2 million in cash and investments, paid into the system by our rate ... (click for more)

The Problem With Standing On Your Principles

All of these people who are of the "Never Trump" crowd and will vote Libertarian, or not vote at all, will be proud of standing on their principles while watching Hillary finish Obamas destruction of our country.  Bob Bogart (click for more)

Mayor Berke Pledges $6 Million For New Recreation Center At Avondale

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that he plans to include $6 million in his upcoming budget for a new Recreation Center at Avondale. He said at a press conference at the current center on Dodson Avenue, "We want to make an investment in Avondale." Mayor Berke said the current center by Wilcox Boulevard was built in 1949 and last remodeled in 2002. The new center, which ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Mustangs Clip Raiders, 4-3, On Chambers' Clutch RBI Hit In 10th

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Winning two regular season games against Cleveland was no picnic for the Walker Valley Mustangs. Capturing a win-or-go-home District 5-3A tournament showdown with the Blue Raiders was even tougher to nail down for coach Joe Shamblin’s squad. Bunts by Jacob McCall and Hunter Shamblin set the stage for Jacob Chambers’ walk-off RBI single in the 10 th ... (click for more)

East Ridge And CFCA Reach New Contract

The city of East Ridge and the Chattanooga Futbol Club Academy (CFCA) have agreed to a new five-year soccer field-use agreement for five fields at Camp Jordan Park. The agreement allows CFCA to practice at Camp Jordan Park and play games there on fields 1-5. The East Ridge Futbol Club (ERFC) plays recreation soccer on fields 6-8 and often works with CFCA to use field 5 on Saturday ... (click for more)