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  • His American fans should help the Danish Pizza man

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on July 16th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Not good:

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A Danish pizzeria owner was jailed Tuesday for refusing to serve French and German tourists in protesting their countries’ opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

    A Danish court found Aage Bjerre guilty of discrimination and fined him $900. Bjerre refused to pay, and will now serve an eight-day sentence.

    In February 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bjerre posted two signs barring Germans and French from his pizzeria on Denmark’s western island of Fanoe. His refusal to serve them drew criticism in this Scandinavian country, where the government supported the war while its citizens were split.

    The 46-year-old received hundreds of fan letters from the United States, but had to sell the pizzeria after repeated vandalism and a large drop in sales.

    I think it was a misguided gesture, for Pizza-embargoes haven’t ever worked before in all of human history – thwarted customers simply take their business elsewhere. I don’t personally mind, for as far as I am concerned he has the right to serve or refuse to serve whomever he wants to. I also don’t think that anybody else was angry, my fellow citizens will line up to have themselves photographed next to a sign that says ‘Germans keep out!’. Good for a laugh or two.

    As to his punishment: The futility of the gesture was obvious, and the ‘discrimination’ was just a pretext to fine him. What this really is all about is the fact that his community depends on German tourists for its livelyhood, and his fellow citizens were afraid the tourists might stay away. I also strongly suspect that the vandalism was perpetrated by neighbors afarid to lose their businesses or jobs.

    Anyway, he’s obviously one of these oddballs who obsess one thing or another, for him it was the war on Iraq. This wouldn’t have gone anywhere, if he hadn’t gotten all those fan-letters to stiffen his resistance, so that he refused to give in to his fellow citizens’ pressure and to pay the fine, leading to his stint in prison and the loss of his business. The people who sent him those letters should now damn well feel obliged to make amends. They should send him money, or even lobby to get him a greencards.

    PS: Think about it for a second: *Danish* Pizza?

     

    11 Responses to “His American fans should help the Danish Pizza man”

    1. ed in texas Says:

      Is *Danish* pizza inherently any stranger than *Germans* eating pizza? (I’ll take a schnitzel and sourbrauten on potato crust?)

    2. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Is *Danish* pizza inherently any stranger than *Germans* eating pizza? (I’ll take a schnitzel and sourbrauten on potato crust?)

      You want herring with that? :)

      Anyway, you obviously haven#t been to Northern Europe yet, or you wouldn’t have to ask. ;)

    3. incognito Says:

      Nice gesture, but lame all around. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is to never ever mix business with politics. Because no matter what you say, chances are you’ll piss off half the people. Things are obviously skewed here in Northern California, but I’m guessing they’re likewise skewed in Socialist Europe. Liberal money is just as green as conservative money. My canned response is, “I hate politics, I only wish they’d stop taking my money…” or something along those lines. I’ve yet to hear someone retort, “no Nito, here is why you should pay more taxes…” But that may change in law school, to which I’ll stick with the generic “I hate politics.”

    4. M. Walkowitz Says:

      Yeah, well politics probably hates your right back. Also, we ought to do something about all these foreigners that live in this country. They are up to no good. I have reason to believe that the Westchesta Molesta is in fact a foreign national.

    5. C. Goulian Says:

      Westchesta Molesta? He’ll getcha!

    6. J.Baer Says:

      About the pizza: just wondering if it was Chicago style? It certainly would add weight to the gesture…

      Ah well, principles, even misguided ones, are seldom easy to live up to when faced with imminent loss. Misguided? vain? perhaps, still I will give the Pizza Man his due.

    7. mishu Says:

      If he didn’t want Germans eating his pizza, all he had to do was offer no pizzas with “schinken” on them.

    8. A Scott Crawford Says:

      Rolf,

      Although I wasn’t one of those who sent a letter to the pizza shop owner supporting his choice to bar Frenchmen and Germans from his store, I do find myself agreeing with your point. Those who were willing to write letters of support for mere discrimination should also aid the fellow when it comes to paying for the burden and consequences of his actions, which we may or may not have explicitly supported. And although I do not feel obliged to make any ammends (not having sent this fellow a supporting note in the first instance), I would be happy to contribute to his cause today.

      I would request, therefore, that a reputable address be provided for either the shop owners family or advocate (lawyer) so that those of us who concur with your argument are able to see the conclusion through… i.e. send him a fiver to contribute towards his defence fund. I think you’ll probably find that there are enough Americans who appreciate this fellows loyalty, whether justified or misguided, and who are willing to send him a couple of dollars, that it is worth providing his (or his lawyers) contact information. We Americans might be a people with more than an average share of vices, but it should be noted that we have a proportionate number of virtues as well;

      Very very few people in the world have any grounds to question American loyalty or fidelity… the English, being an obvious exception… This Dane was by all accounts making a symbolic gesture, of the sort typically called a “speech act” by flag burners and civil rights activists alike, and although there are no grounds to claim he should not pay the civil penalty for his actions, the ideals that motivated his “speech acts” are not less worthy merely because of the inelegant manner in which he chose to express them. Voltaire was noted as claiming his own willingness to fight to defend speech (acts of liberty) that he personally didn’t agree with, and if the spirit of Voltaire has been cast into the dung heap of history on one side of the Atlantic, all the more reason for those on this side to esteem his spirit all the more highly. Thus while I’m quite unwilling to claim our Danish Pizza man is innocent of knowingly violating local regulations and/or laws, I’d be more than willing to help minimize the burden he’s assumed for speaking out, in my own opinion, on the side of Liberty.

    9. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I would request, therefore, that a reputable address be provided for either the shop owners family or advocate (lawyer) so that those of us who concur with your argument are able to see the conclusion through… i.e. send him a fiver to contribute towards his defence fund.

      With pleasure. He probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I directly linked to his site, but you can find it via this post by Tim Blair.

    10. A Scott Crawford Says:

      Rolf,

      Thanks. A fiver goes off in tomorrows mail.

      best.

    11. Dan Says:

      Things are obviously skewed here in Northern California, but I’m guessing they’re likewise skewed in Socialist Europe. Liberal money is just as green as conservative money.