Jen posts a much longer apology from the owner of Gelato Mio, in which he explains what “event” led him to put up the sign and offers a much stronger apology than the first one. Here’s the full text:
To the World:
Hello, my name is Andy and I’m the owner of Gelato Mio, a gelato shop located in Springfield, Missouri. There has been quite a lot of buzz and discussion concerning a picture of the sign I briefly posted in my front window Saturday evening. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell my story and offer a heartfelt apology to your community. I messed up, plain and simple. This is NOT an excuse, but how it happened from my perspective.
I decided to welcome the convention downtown by offering the attendees 10% off their purchases at my store. A lot of the group from the convention were stopping by, being very polite and enjoying my Gelato. Saturday night started out as a great night. Once the store slowed down, I decided to walk down the street to learn more about the convention, fully thinking it was something involving UFOs (“skeptics”). What I saw instead was a man conducting a mock sermon, reading the bible and cursing it. Instead of saying “Amen”, the phrase was “god damn”. Being a Christian, and expecting flying saucers, I was not only totally surprised but totally offended. I took it very personally and quickly decided in the heat of the moment that I had to take matters into my own hands and let people know how I felt at that moment in time.
So, I went quickly back to my business, grabbed the first piece of paper I could find, wrote the note and taped it in my front window. This was an impulsive response, which I fully acknowledge was completely wrong and unacceptable. The sign was posted for about 10 minutes or so before I calmed down, came to my senses, and took it down. For what it’s worth, nobody was turned away. I strongly believe that everybody is entitled to their beliefs. I’m not apologizing for my beliefs, but rather for my inexcusable actions. I was wrong.
Guys, I really don’t know what else I can do to express my apologies. I’ve received dozens of calls and hundreds of emails since the incident, and have done my best to reply to each and every one and express my regret for what happened. For the thousands of you whom I’ve offended, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. This is me as a human being sincerely apologizing for my actions.
To those of you who accept my apology, Thank You; it means a lot. To those of you who haven’t, I hope you will. I’m just a 28 year old small business owner who made a big mistake. I hope you see that I have not made any excuses, I’ve owned up to what I did, and I apologize.For what it’s worth, an Atheist reached out to me to help me work through all of this and contact your community directly. I graciously accepted his offer.
I will give everyone who comes to my store this week 10% off as a token of my apology. Really, what’s more universal than ice cream?
One of the reasons why I didn’t buy the first apology was the cryptic reference to some “event” where someone did something terrible to make him angry. Now he has at least spelled out what it was. I can certainly understand a Christian being shocked by Brother Sam’s act, though I still don’t understand the bizarre reaction to it. Is this apology sincere? I have no way of knowing. It could be sincere and it could be that he’s just trying to extricate himself from a bad situation; I can’t read his mind and neither can you.
But here’s one possible argument in favor of sincerity: What does he really have to gain from the apology? Skepticon only happens once a year and involves a few hundred people, only a small percentage of whom are going to go to his place anyway. On the other hand, he exists in a city that is overwhelmingly conservative and Christian and likely not to be bothered in the least by his shutting out of atheists — and quite possibly would reward that with more business rather than less. That seems an argument in his favor, but it’s not exactly dispositive, as the lawyers like to say.
Still, I think this should be the end of it. I see nothing to be gained by continuing to beat the drum. Here’s what we should be happy about, that even if the apology is totally insincere, he was forced into it by the overwhelming criticism. The swift and furious reaction, particularly through social media, will make other businesses think twice before doing the same thing, whether they do so out of principle or out of self-preservation. We should be happy that the pragmatic analysis is now, to at least some degree, on the side of not discriminating.