Why Detroit BBQ Company is being unfairly targeted

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OK, here's the short version: In the wake of the shooting of two New York cops by a guy who had already killed his girlfriend and may have been mentally ill,  Tim Idzikowski of Detroit BBQ Company posted on his personal Facebook page: "How many times did they think they were going to kick the hornets nest before they got stung? These guys 'can't breathe' now either." And then all hell broke loose, allegedly resulting in a Detroit cop viewing the message and then published Idzikowski's phone number to a forum. Since then, Idzikowski says he's been getting death threats by telephone. It also appears there's a boycott of the company brewing, one that may have caused Kuhnhenn Brewing Company to stop hosting the caterer at its Warren location.

It's a big old firestorm, and one that not only didn't need to happen, but shows some pretty bad behavior on the part of those criticizing Idzikowski.

You see, there is a difference between saying that you want police killed and simply stating that bad police work and unnecessary shootings were bound to prompt reprisals. It's actually the same point made in a post by crime novelist Ron Jacobs on the CounterPunch site today. Of course, Jacobs is an experienced writer, and knows that, right up front, you have to give a big disclaimer that nobody will miss: that you don't endorse killing police. Idzikowski works with pig meat, not a keyboard, therefore had the poor judgment to post his disclaimer after those offended had a good chance to get all wound up about his posting.

But since we're the pros, we should do this right up front, as long as misperceptions result in death threats and Yelp falsehoods: WE DO NOT SUPPORT THE KILLING OF POLICE OFFICERS. (There. That should do it.)

It's also clear that Idzikowski also does not support the killing of police officers. His remarks may be tactless and it you may not like them, but he has a right to talk about the climate created by all these killing being recorded and posted online. In a climate where police seem to be able to shoot black men with impunity, it's only a matter of time before some unhinged jackass figures he's going to even the score, right? Consider when Malcolm X was asked about the Kennedy assassinated and said it was a matter of the chickens coming home to roost. Now, obviously, Idzikowski and Malcolm X don't have a whole lot in common (especially pork), but when correctly observing that the political climate was ripe for something, they were immediately pilloried for saying they supported it. Even thought they didn't.

Laying aside the motives of those conducting a campaign against the barbecue caterer, let's examine how they have conducted their campaign. Death threats? In what sort of sorry political culture do we give credence to people who phone in death threats? These are serious crimes, and should be investigated; anybody phoning in death threats to a private citizen should land in court, especially if they have a badge.

And look at the sudden uptick in activity on Yelp: All of a sudden people are confessing to the food making them sick. At least the majority of the people posting over the last day had the decency to admit they were participating in a political protest against a local business, it appears clear that some of these electronic picketers are willing to lie to make their points. At least it's not death threats, but it's not very classy, and almost certainly untrue.

What's more, the people who at least identified themselves as posting negative reviews as part of a political protest had their facts wrong.

So what is the message you take away from a group of people who, collectively, engage in death threats, lies, and falsehoods to attack an enemy whose sole crime was a bit of tactlessness in expressing an opinion that's his right?

It's not about killing police officers being wrong.

It's about criticizing police at all being wrong.

Our culture has elevated police to the point where you cannot even criticize their behavior, because criticizing bad police work is considered equivalent to saying they should be shot by maniacs. And who's driving that false equivalency but some of the very people demanding unequivocal support for the police.

Why are people upset about the police? It's because many of them feel the police have too much impunity and too little accountability. And what puts police there? It's nasty little campaigns like this designed to silence or drive out of business people who speak their mind. Too bad a decent caterer had to find all this out the hard way that the police have so much power they can make life very difficult for those who'd offer criticisms.

Or, as Voltaire once said, "To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?"

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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