Last week, it was reported that Pret a Manger withdrew the ‘Virgin Mary’ flavour of crisps due to complaints from a small group of Catholics organising a letter writing campaign. It has been suggested by some wags that the crisps were really withdrawn because they may make women pregnant.

I first heard about this on Twitter when Andrew Copson of the BHA brought it to his followers’ attention. I took it upon myself to complain and received the following polite response from Clive Schlee, the Pret CEO.

Dear Tweety

 Thanks for your email.   I made the decision to pull the crisps because they were upsetting growing numbers of our customers and that’s not smart for any business.  It was a tight decision and I did what I thought was right.   We will bring back the flavour under another name later.

 With best wishes

 Clive

So I took the opportunity to reply.

 

Clive,

Thanks for your email.

I trust that you appreciate that in a modern and secular world, as a liberal, I do not advocate bowing to the demands of vocal minority religious groups. Whilst I accept that as an entity Pret should be free to act in the perceived best interest of its shareholders, I strongly feel that such a precedent is not a positive one for any company to promote.

As we saw in the equal marriage debate in parliament, when vocal minorities get traction and are given acceptance, the result is an increase of hateful homophobia, racism and other bigotry. It is only by telling such groups that their views are not acceptable will we improve society for everyone.

By giving in to the narrow-minded bigotry of Nick Donnelly & his ‘Protect the Pope’ website, you have ensured that I and other secular humanists will be happy in permanently taking our business elsewhere.

I expect that you hope that you will be rewarded in your bonus this year by getting more profit from the shrinking group of child-abuse-defending Catholics than you receive from the growing group of rationalists & humanists in this country. Good luck with that business plan.

To make it very clear, my concern is not the availability of a particular flavour of crisps, but the support you show for bigots crushing free speech.

Until your company publicly restores the name of the snack, I will vocally support other businesses that don’t publicly have such knee-jerk reactions against liberalism every time a petulant minority group starts a letter-writing campaign.

Yours etc,

Tweety Bunny

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