God hates haters: Anti-gay protest nipped in the wallet


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The Independent Online

Last week this column reported on the Salem mayor, Kim Driscoll, who donated $5 to an LGBT support group every time her office received a hate call from a homophobe. And now it seems as if the idea is catching on, because the rock group Panic! at the Disco pledged to do the same thing when they heard there would be a protest outside the band's Kansas City show last week due to the group's singer, Brendon Urie, being bisexual.

The action – organised by the Westboro Baptist Church (those charmers who hold up signs reading "God hates fags") – prompted Urie to offer a $20 donation for every placard waver who showed up. But the plan backfired when only 13 protesters appeared. So the group donated $1,000 instead. Was the low turnout proof this ingenious way to deal with the haters is working? Watch this space.

Rhubarb no custard

"There is nothing more depressing for a caterer than sending out loads of beautiful-looking food that takes hours to prepare, only to have it all returned to the kitchen." So says Glen Sutton, the director of events at Rhubarb, which has, in previous years, catered for the crowds at London Fashion Week events for Fendi, Issey Miyake, Chanel, Prada and Christian Louboutin and will be there again in September when the fashion pack descends.

"If you want food to get eaten at a fashion party," says Sutton, "it's important to make it guilt-free, which is why we specialise in dishes such as sushi, hand-chopped pesto with Parmesan jelly and compressed melon."

The other key ingredient at all Rhubarb events is discretion. "We did a private birthday party for a famous model earlier this year, and when we turn up to events like that we take unbranded vehicles and don't tell the staff who the end client is. Then, on the day, we put everybody's mobiles into a safe just to be sure."

With two "large celebrity weddings" later this year, Sutton's discretion even extends to his wife. "I definitely can't tell her anything," he says. "She works for one of our competitors."

Read the small print

Admit it, when you clicked "I accept" on that Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy recently, the document might as well have contained the full text of Ulysses for all you would have noticed.

You're not alone. In fact, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, reading all the policies that the average internet user encounters in a year would take 76 working days. Researchers found that the median length of the top 75 websites' policies was 2,514 words, which would take most people about 10 minutes to read. They further calculated that the average user will encounter about 1,462 of these policies per year – hence 76 working days a year.

But maybe we should be reading these things more closely. According to Roll on Friday, a website for people in the legal profession, a multimillion-pound contract "drafted for one of the largest companies in the world" recently contained the force majeure clause "invasion of zombies". "Our source," the website reports, "says that these regularly crop up. Apparently his sales teams run a book to see who can get the most outrageous things in the Terms & Conditions. They're currently trying to get an alien invasion clause into a £400m deal."

Ebony and ivory it's not

In the week that the UK's first black heritage centre opened in Brixton, news drifted in from the United States of a film, slated to open here later this year, that Caucasians would be well advised to see before planning that day out to south London.

Dear White People, written and directed by Justin Simien, is a savage satire set in the fictional Ivy League Winchester University. Among its many observations on "post-racial" America are the following snippets of advice: "Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man Tyrone does not count. Dear white people, please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you? [And] Dear white people, dating a black person to piss off your parents is a form of racism."

And before you go thinking Do the Right Thing for the 21st century, you should know this: the film's protagonist, Samantha White (Tessa Thompson), is described as "like if Spike Lee and Oprah had some sort of pissed-off baby".

"Bigoted, divisive and culturally Marxist" according to some. Can't wait.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

At the Commonwealth Games get-together

There was Nessie and Subo and heather

There were teacakes and Rod

There was even, thank God

Some remarkably unScottish weather.