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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

This is in reference to an Alligator story published March 13, in which a Papa John's Pizza employee was fired after writing a joke about domestic violence on the inside of a customer's box of brownies. The joke asked, "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, you already told her twice."

First off, I would like to give you some background on how I formulated my opinion. I am not the person to give sympathy to some- one for making sexist remarks or joking about the very serious issue of domestic violence. I am an avid supporter of equality. I agree that this is not a “cool” joke, and I can understand anyone who is offended by it. But, that will not be the basis for my argument today.

The argument for why I believe it is the wrong decision to fire the delivery driver who wrote this joke is much more simplistic: People make mistakes, especially when they are young. I can confirm, through sources I have spoken to, the driver that was fired is under the age of 20. How many mistakes did you make before you were 20 that could have gotten you fired? Probably a lot — I know I did. In this age of social media and a 24-hour news cycle, companies attempt to placate the digital angry mob by sawing off their arm. Well, while you can live without your arm, having it does make things a heck of a lot easier!

That is not the right reaction. Now, if the delivery driver was regularly late on deliveries or ate the pizza on the way to drop it off, those would be reasons to fire a driver. But, because of one mistake, the company should disregard his performance record? That does not quite add up. Even if we can agree that the driver should not be fired, then I already know the anonymous social media commentators will demand I spell out exactly what an appropriate punishment would be. Well, if Papa John’s Pizza truly does not “condone his actions” or “any violence of any kind, particularly against women,” as they were quoted as stating in the article, then they should join the fight for women’s equality and help combat domestic violence, rather than sweeping it under the rug. By firing this employee, they wipe their hands clean of this issue, shake their fingers in their workforce’s face saying, “don’t do this again,” and things proceed as they were. That affects no change in behavior, it affects no change in society, and it ultimately serves to dismiss this incident as a blip that will contribute nothing to women’s equality or the societal change needed to combat domestic violence. Instead, Papa John’s should, if they truly care about women’s rights and domestic violence, educate their workforce about the real struggles women face today in the workplace. They can educate their employees about how they can help battle domestic violence, even to the smallest degree, within their realm of influence. If they meant what they said in their statement, their actions would not have been to fire a young delivery driver who made a stupid mistake. They would have taken that opportunity to change a life, impact others and teach a kid to think before writing a dumb joke next time.

Chip Lowe is a 24-year-old UF alumnus.

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