Donuts, Electoral Politics and Abortion

It’s always interesting when major companies dip their toes in political waters in a public way. It’s even more surprising to see companies — typically wary of risking negative public attention — taking positions on highly controversial political issues. (Back in October, I blogged about Apple having taken a very public position against California’s anti-equal-marriage-rights Proposition 8.)
Here’s the latest such controversy. From Salon.com: Pro-life group slams Krispy Kreme for baby-killing treats

So Krispy Kreme has decided to offer a free doughnut to every customer next Tuesday in honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration. Nice of them, no? Maybe not completely selfless, since they’re probably figuring they’ll end up selling more doughnuts that way, and besides, it’s not exactly great for your waistline. But still — no one can complain about a free, delicious Krispy Kreme, right?

Wrong.

The anti-abortion group, American Life League, objected. Strenuously. The problem, it seems, was the wording of the donut company’s press release, which read in part: “Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. is honoring Americans’… freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer.”

The A.L.L. issued its own statement, with the provocative title, “KRISPY KREME CELEBRATES OBAMA WITH PRO-ABORTION DOUGHNUTS”. The statement said, in part:

The next time you stare down a conveyor belt of slow-moving, hot, sugary glazed donuts at your local Krispy Kreme, you just might be supporting President-elect Barack Obama’s radical support for abortion on demand – including his sweeping promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he steps in the Oval Office, Jan. 20.

I have little to say about this. It’s not clear whether, by using the word “choice” — a hot-button word in American politics — the donut chain really was referring to Obama’s position on abortion. That certainly wasn’t how I read the Krispy Kreme press release: I thought (naively, perhaps) that they were talking about electoral choice. If they really were referring to reproductive choice, if they really were pushing that particular political button, it’s a pretty risky way of garnering attention. On the other hand, the American Life League, in it’s insistence on reading Krispy Kreme’s statement that way, is definitely pushing buttons.

(Has anyone noticed that baked goods seem to show up ridiculously often on this blog? See here, here, and here, for example. It’s not intentional, I swear.)

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