Two nights ago, Indiana's ABC 57 reported a scoop—a business had been located that would actually refuse to serve gay customers, emboldened by the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Well, not quite. Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., would serve anyone who wanted to order food. The exception, said co-owner Crystal O'Connor was that "if a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no."
The backlash was lightning-quick. Memories Pizza's Yelp page was drowned in angry comments and semi-pornographic photos, with more than a thousand denunciations ruining the restaurant's rating. A visitor to that page today won't find most of the reviews, because they were wiped as Memories Pizza announced that it would temporarily close. In a tearful interview with Dana Loesch, a radio and TV host at Glenn Beck's network, The Blaze, O'Connor recounted the threats she was getting and the financial damage that trolls had delivered.
"I just got an apartment and this was the income that could keep my apartment going," she said.
Most viewers of that interview are now seeing it on a GoFundMe page launched by a reporter and activist named Lawrence Billy Jones III. He had started working as a contributor to The Blaze four days earlier, after a short but fruitful career as a black conservative online pundit.
The initial goal for the campaign was $25,000. At the close of business on Thursday, more than $260,000 had been kicked in. That's more than enough to buy a large home in Walkerton.
"Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family's plate as the strangers sought to destroy them," Jones wrote. "But other strangers came to the rescue and the total just keeps going up."
Memories Pizza had quickly become a mom-and-pop version of Chick-fil-A, the national fried chicken sandwich chain that faced opprobrium for its owners criticism of gay marriage—and immediately became a conservative cause celebre.