Barbeque and the Battle Flag

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Leave
it to liberals to figure out how to rewrite Newton's Third Law,
and replace it with:

"For
every action, there is an outrageous and excessive reaction."

According
to the September 13, 2000, on-line edition of the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution
, Wal-Mart, one of the nation's largest
discount retailers, has decided "it will no longer sell a popular
barbecue sauce in six Southern states because the manufacturer sells
merchandise with racist overtones." The manufacturer in question
is Maurice's Gourmet Barbeque
of West Columbia, South Carolina
.

Before
we jump the gun here and assume that Maurice's is some little roadhouse
barbeque shack with a handful of redneck local patrons, there is
some explaining to do. Maurice's is a landmark in South Carolina.
Maurice Bessinger's father Joseph started the business in 1939,
and Maurice opened his first "Piggie Park" restaurant
in 1953. Today they have eight locations in and around Columbia.
They also support a thriving mail order business with customers
all over the United States and beyond. Maurice's was once rated
the "Best All-in-One Barbeque Restaurant" by People
magazine, and it has been favorably reviewed by publications as
varied as Southern Living
and Chili
Pepper.

As
stated in the article, a Wal-Mart customer (emphasis on "a")
complained about the owner, Maurice Bessinger's removal of the American
flag at his store locations, and his replacement of said flag with
the flag of the State of South Carolina and the Confederate battle
flag. Upon receiving the complaint, Wal-Mart removed the sauces
from the shelves of eight stores in North and South Carolina, and
began an "investigation" into Mr. Bessinger's business.
After completing the investigation, Wal-Mart decided to remove Mr.
Bessinger's products from the shelves of more than 90 Wal-Mart stores
throughout the South.

According
to Wal-Mart spokesman Jay Allen, "We're just not comfortable
with some of the things he is selling in there." Allen was
quick to point out "This has nothing to do with the Confederate
flag." The Atlanta Journal followed with "The merchandise
includes tracts that offer justification for slavery."

Whoa!

"Tracts
that offer justification for slavery?"

I
travel throughout the southeast on business, and was in Maurice’s
flagship store recently for dinner. Mr. Bessinger does have written
materials, some free and some available for sale in his store. He
is a strong proponent of states rights, and is using space in his
business to promote these ideas. These documents promote the Southern
view of the War Between the States, many indicating that the history
of the South and the war are being misrepresented. Mr. Bessinger
is hardly alone in this view. In his current book, reviewed recently
on this site, When
in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession
,
tax historian Charles Adams makes a scholarly and compelling case
that we have been led to a mythology about the causes of the war.
Adam's research and documentation are impeccable and incontrovertible.
Although no one has called Adam's work a "justification for
slavery," it's probably a good thing for Mr. Adams he isn't
in the processed food business, or Wal-Mart would surely be after
him as well.

None
of the documents I saw in Maurice's restaurant contained a justification
for slavery, unless today merely defending the Confederacy’s constitutional
right to secede and form a new government, or displaying documents
with the Confederate battle emblem on the cover is “offering justification
for slavery”. One is left to assume that there can no longer be
any discourse on socially or politically sensitive topics. You either
knuckle under to the “correct” worldview, or you risk having your
business destroyed and your reputation maligned.

If
we are to believe the Atlanta Journal, on the basis of one
customer complaint, Wal-Mart has chosen to no longer carry Maurice’s
barbecue sauces. This will impact Mr. Bessinger's business, and
is tantamount to allowing a special interest group to exact economic
terrorism on Wal-Mart's vendors.

Wal-Mart’s
response should have been to advise the customer that they
do not have to buy the product and, if they chose, to contact Maurice
Bessinger directly and register their complaint. This option would
have allowed the customer to use his own economic power to send
a message to Maurice’s, without denying all other Wal-Mart shoppers
the right to make their own choice about what products to purchase
and what causes to support.

For
those interested, Maurice's makes outstanding Carolina-style barbeque,
and they can be contacted at:

Maurice’s
Gourmet Barbeque
P.O. Box 6847
West Columbia, SC 29171
Toll Free: 1-800-MAURICE
E-mail: mail@mauricesbbq.com

Web
Site: http://www.mauricesbbq.com/

September
15, 2000

Jef
Allen is a technology professional in Georgia. As a reformed Yankee,
who has lived in the South for roughly twenty years, he has very
little tolerance for Northern sanctimony, or the erosion of individual
liberty.

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