Pando

GoFundMe profits off another national controversy as Indiana's anti-gay pizzeria raises $500K

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 3, 2015

From The News Desk

Here's a new game: Whenever an organization, business, or person is involved in a major controversy, check GoFundMe to see how many are rushing to financially support them.

Just take the crowdfunding page for an Indiana pizzeria that attracted national attention for saying it will use the state's new "religious freedom" law to ensure it never has to bake a pie that will be consumed by infidels at a same-sex wedding.

The pizzeria has been closed for several days, with its owners claiming they're "in hiding" because they don't know if it's safe for them to open up to customers. So over the last 24 hours, kind folks have used GoFundMe to donate almost $500,000  in an effort to "relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith."

(A quick aside about the GoFundMe page: it was created by Lawrence B. Jones III, a self-described "investigative journalist" and "the modern voice of conservatism," who regularly contributes to the Blaze. Personal beliefs aside, someone who works for a media organization -- even the Blaze -- creating a crowdfunding page for a business the network has covered seems like blatant disregard for media ethics.)

This isn't the first time people have used GoFundMe to support someone who has raised the nation's ire. For a while, the "house mom" of the racist Oklahoma frat had a page dedicated to supporting her, and it raised something around $6,000 before it was removed from the crowdfunding website. (Why, exactly, is unclear.)

The site was also used to raise more than $230,000 for Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown last fall, with several of its supporters making it clear their donation was motivated by racism. Yet the site didn't allow a page dedicated to an officer accused of rape to stay up. Why?

(It should be noted that the Department of Justice closed its investigation on Wilson, declaring that "Wilson's actions do not constitute prosecutable violations.")

Pando's David Holmes points out that it might have something to do with money:

Certainly, GoFundMe has a right to remove or preserve campaigns however it sees fit. But if it’s going to allow some campaigns that raise cash for people accused of a crime while removing others, it needs a consistent policy.

Let’s not forget that GoFundMe, like virtually all crowdfunding platforms, takes a cut of each donation. And by cracking down on Holtzclaw’s modest $7,390 campaign while allowing Wilson’s $235,550 campaign to shoulder on despite similarities between the two, it invites criticism that perhaps its actions are based less on standards and more on profits. There's a pattern here that may be emerging. First someone attracts the nation's ire for supposed bigotry, whether it's manifested as racism or homophobia. Then a GoFundMe page is made to support the bigot. Finally, depending on how much money the page raises, GoFundMe decides if it wants to nix the project or if its wants to profit off of it.

So the next time one of these stories makes its way around the nation -- and there's always a next time -- search through GoFundMe to see who's come out of the woodwork to use the campaign as a politically correct way to express their hate. Bonus points if the project only raises a few grand and is then mysteriously closed.

[photo by The Pizza Review]