ABC & the Violation of “A Clean, Well Lighted Place”?

Reporters, apparently having insufficient news to cover, have found that staged news is more easily controlled, requires little shoe leather, and reaches appropriate conclusions; I suspect it also reinforces the reporters’ sense of superiority. It does betray, however, a misunderstanding of the implied contract between a retail merchant and his customer – a more nuanced respect than merely (or even always) that the customer is right. Wretchard posts about ABC’s visit to the Czech Stop I’ve mentioned before. An actor behind the counter refuses to serve an actress in hijab. He is rude and disrespectful. Customers react – sometimes protective of the actress, sometimes critical, but always, of course, naively. (Update:  Wretchard’s commentors are also, as usual, insightful until somehow they become completely off-topic- I don’t understand how that can happen.)

A bustling bakery/delicatessen off I35 in West, the Czech Stop is famous for its lemon poppy seed cakes, kolaches, hard-boiled eggs, and thick sandwiches on fresh baked bread. Polka music is often on and sometimes Denton’s rousing Brave Combo can be heard. West is the home of Westfest and an accordion band (think about that for a minute); the Czech counsel is building a home there. And it’s a regular stop for country musicians traveling between Dallas and Austin. ABC describes it as near Waco; well, yes, but it is in West. It is a bit Czechy for me – but I can’t drive by without getting a kolache or bringing a poppy seed roll home. West is a small, ethnic town. I doubt it is the most liberal town in the world, but the people are efficient and polite, even in the middle of the night. On a major highway, it has seen (and put up with) a fairly large cross-section of America.

The responses to the staged outrage varied. ABC did, of course, manage to find a guy who gave “thumbs up” to the actor playing a bigoted salesman, then managed to argue that this was the kind of treatment Muslims often received. Well, maybe. I have my doubts. I’ve been in grocery lines, running errands at Walmart, looking over oddities at TJMaxx. Women in hijabs are not uncommon in any of those places. I’m sure bigotry happens – it would be strange if it didn’t. So do Bohunk jokes. And dumb blonde ones. Man is not always sensitive.

So, ABC found their Nascar equivalent and somehow convinced the owners to let them set up this charming little scene. All I can say is that I hope the Czech Stop was well compensated. Some customers were put off and didn’t buy their kolaches; some were caught acting inappropriately; some in the larger audience may feel uncomfortable with the Czech Stop itself. I can’t imagine any justification for subjecting customers to boorish behavior. I’m not saying I ran the best of small businesses, but I thought my job was to protect my customers’ dignity, to make the business a pleasant oasis rather than a stage set for guerrilla theater. It certainly wasn’t my right to “test” their tolerance – much as they might test mine.

8 thoughts on “ABC & the Violation of “A Clean, Well Lighted Place”?”

  1. I really do wonder how many ‘encounters’ they had to video in the Czech Stop to get the one ‘thumbs up’ guy. I also wonder how many customers were silently embarassed, either because they thought the bigoted clerk was a real employee, or because they suspected they were being ‘Boratted’ – that is, set up as you described it for some kind of guerrilla theater. How many customers, being thus embarassed, have quietly decided never to set foot in such a place again?

    And I wonder if the management of the Czech Stop is having second thoughts about all the free advertizing for their business they got out for cooperating with ABC News? And if ABC News is having second thoughts about leaping so high, every time CAIR says “jump”.

  2. Members of the old-media elite tend to see their fellow Americans as dangerous brutes. This is one reason why they underplay terrorist atrocities, Iranian nuclear weapons, etc. They are more afraid of *us* than they are of terrorists, nuke-wielding mullahs, etc.

  3. I have enjoyed the kolaches at the Czech Stop many times. This calls for some bad Hemingway:

    It was afternoon. So this is how it is, this is how it always happens in the afternoon. Obscenity your afternoon. With my last 50 koruna I purchased some true and honest Pilsner; I took a pull from the bottle. It was good. It burned my mouth and felt good and warm going down my esophagus and into my stomach. From there it went to my kidneys and my bladder, and was good. I remembered then when I last saw Ginny who was still a damn fine writer. It was in West and we looked out the windows at I-35 and drank kolaches in the afternoon. It was afternoon and had been afternoon for some time.

    Created here (and slightly tweaked).

  4. The video clearly shows more than one person indicating their approval of the discrimation. The posters claiming it was only one person must not have seen the entire clip.

    I’m surprised and disappointed that Americans would spontaneously support open discrimination in such a way. I’ve never personally witnessed anyone behave that way, but I suppose it does happen, as we learn thanks to ABC.

    ABC did a great job by exposing that.

    No one was coerced or tricked into doing anything, so I don’t see what the harm is here, as long as ABC didn’t present the actors as real people to its viewers.

    I don’t understand the objections to ABC’s experiment.

  5. This reminds me of the “Catch a Predator” thing NBC would do with the satutory rape stuff. What’s the point? To put people up to public humiliation? To what end? Do we need more reasons to judge our society as so bad and evil?

    Look at Negritude.. all happy that America is once again shown to be wrong.

    I would love to see these Leftists try this experiment that would expose thier allies as the bad guy. Like have a guy wear a Bush shirt to a Green Party meeting.

    Will never happen.

  6. Vince P has an interesting interpretation of my comment.

    I was sincerely surprised that people would behave that way. As I noted, I’ve never personally seen anyone behave that way.

    More telling, perhaps, is that Vince P assumes that evidence showing bigoted behavior is somehow a blow against conservatives struck by liberals.

    Why does he assume the bigots exposed by ABC are conservative? Or that exposing them would somehow benefit liberals at the expense of conservatives?

    What the tape clearly shows is that most Americans don’t go along with that sort of thing and many even speak up publically against it. I wonder why Vince P doesn’t come away with that message?

  7. Negritude: I didn’t say ABC News thought the people they were testing were Conservatives (in fact I never used the word once.. why would you introduce it?). .. instead they were testing to see how Islamophobic “Americans” were. I maintain that this a view the Left has about Americans… having debated the topic with enough of them. It’s a snobby elitist opinion these media people hold about the general population.

    It would never occur to them to test their theory on a group that is represenative of themselves.

    >What the tape clearly shows is that most Americans don’t go along with that sort of thing and many even speak up publically against it. I wonder why Vince P doesn’t come away with that message?

    I know Americans aren’t the way ABC wished they were. I dont need an ABC News sting to prove that to me. Why did ABC News think it newsworthy to even bother?

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