Gresham bakery: example of why people mistrust the media


by Dan Lucas

Gallup reported a year ago that distrust in the media had hit a new high, with 60% saying they had little or no trust in newspapers, TV and radio when it came to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly.

A recent example in Oregon shows why there is that distrust.

The example involves the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham. In January the bakery said they wouldn’t bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple for a same-sex marriage, as it violated their religious beliefs. The bakery had previously sold a wedding cake to the same lesbian couple when the wedding cake wasn’t for a same-sex marriage, and the bakery does sell their cakes to gays and lesbians, just not for same-sex marriages.

In addition to the bakery owner’s religious beliefs, same-sex marriage is also prohibited by the Oregon constitution.

The lesbian couple filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ concluded that it was “more of a civil rights case than a consumer protection case,” and advised the couple’s attorney to take the issue to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). The couple filed a discrimination complaint with BOLI last month.

On September 1st several Oregon news outlets reported that the bakery was closing its shop and moving their business to an in-home bakery. Those accounts mentioned the discrimination complaints filed with the state by the lesbian couple, leaving the impression that the bakery closed its shop due to the complaints.

What those accounts didn’t mention were the intimidation, threats and hate-filled messages received by the bakery — all from supposed proponents of tolerance.

One Oregon news outlet that did give the bakery owners a chance to present their side of the story was KATU. Speaking on KATU on September 2nd, the husband-owner of the bakery said that the bakery had not closed due to the complaint filed with BOLI, but due to declining sales that were the result of the intimidation of their vendors. People upset with the bakery had “harassed [the bakery’s] vendors to the point that vendors would no longer refer customers.” The bakery owner described the tactics as “mafia tactics” — “Basically, if you do business with Sweet Cakes, we will shut you down.” That led to the bakery’s income dropping off dramatically.

The bakery has also had to contend with hateful and falsified online reviews, a break-in to their bakery truck, hate mail, and threatening and harassing phone calls and e-mails — including ones that say the husband-owner should be shot and another that he should be raped. Another email to the wife-owner says “You stupid bible thumping, hypocritical b**ch. I hope your kids get really, really, sick and you go out of business.”

Most of the news accounts have omitted significant parts of the story like these that would have told more of the other side of the story.

Regardless of how you feel on the matter, how on earth are people going to make informed decisions if they’re only hearing half the story?

The people working to redefine marriage are certainly well represented in the media and in the entertainment industry. They have enjoyed a saturation of the culture with their messaging for several years, and they have also enjoyed very selective editing in which stories get reported, and how those stories are framed and reported. They can now look at polls — which reflect the impact of their messaging saturation — and also use that as justification for redefining marriage.

Not content with those advantages, the people working to redefine marriage also appear to condone intimidation, threats and hate-filled messages to get what they want.

This column also ran in Sunday’s Salem Statesman Journal

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