Pando

As another campaign for an anti-gay business goes viral, why's GoFundMe the go-to platform for racists, homophobes?

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 6, 2015

From The News Desk

Remember when I said you should check GoFundMe whenever a national controversy occurs to see if there's a campaign to raise money for the contentious figure in question?

This week offered even more proof supporting that thesis.

A florist in Washington who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding has received more than $95,000 of a $100,000 campaign to "protect [her] against the financial risk she faces" after a judge ruled that she violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The florist was charged a $1,000 fine and ordered to pay $1 for court costs and fees.

The Seattle Times reports that most of the donations have been made in the last 24 hours, even though the GoFundMe page set up for the florist was made in February. Why? Because conservative author and pundit Dana Loesch --  the same radio show host that garnered support for the owners of an Indiana pizzeria who vowed never to cater a same-sex wedding -- drew attention to it last Friday.

That pizzeria raised more than $842,000 in just four days before its creator -- an "investigative journalist" who, like Loesch, contributes to Glenn Beck's conservative "news" organization the Blaze -- closed it. Although Loesch did not technically launch the GoFundMe campaign, she seems to be taking some credit for it, stating that the campaign was closed because she "didn't want to burn out all the energy on one of many who are persecuted" for discriminating against homosexual couples.

As I argued in a post about the Indiana pizzeria, there is a pattern to controversial people or businesses soliciting donations via GoFundMe:

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. Maybe there should be even more bonus points for projects Loesch promotes that raise tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in a short amount of time. The last week has made Loesch the best thing to happen to GoFundMe since Darren Wilson.

Meanwhile, the platform continues to take a case-by-case approach to moderating which campaigns are allowed on its site. Last September, GoFundMe removed a campaign that had raised $7,390 for an accused rapist while allowing one in support of Michael Brown's shooter Darren Wilson to move forward; Wilson's campaign eventually raised over $230,000. The Ferguson police officer was ultimately exonerated of criminal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, but at the time neither man had been tried, which calls into question whether GoFundMe has any consistent standards when it comes to deciding which campaigns will live or die -- that is, except for how much money it thinks it can make by allowing a campaign to continue. GoFundMe's cut of a $230,000 campaign would obviously be much larger than its cut of a $7,390 one, and so as skeezy at it sounds, greed may be the deciding factor here.

Racists and homophobes might not make GoFundMe seem like the most forward-thinking crowdfunding platform, but I suppose their money's as green as anyone's. Maybe the company could change its tagline from "Crowdfunding for everyone!" to "We don't care who you hate, as long as a lot of other people with deep pockets hate them too!"

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