Schnatter’s use of racial slur unacceptable

Published 10:54 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was living the American dream in every sense of the word.

In 1984, at 23 years old, Schnatter founded Papa John’s. The story of how he built what is now the third-largest pizza chain in the world is an interesting one. He started the company when he converted a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern. Schnatter sold his 1971 Camaro to purchase $1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern’s customers. The following year, his business had become successful enough that he was able to move into an adjoining space. As the old saying goes, the rest is history.

For several decades, Schnatter lived the American dream, watching his creation grow and grow. He even had his company’s name on the University of Louisville football stadium and his name on one of the business college buildings on that campus. He was also a known commodity as he came into our homes via television pretty regularly through his Papa John’s commercials. Yes, Schnatter was living the life until October 2017, when he engulfed himself in the protests by NFL players. Schnatter made comments that he was upset the NFL wasn’t doing anything about players kneeling during the national anthem. We have editorialized that we believe it is inappropriate for players to sit or kneel during the national anthem, although we recognize that it is protected speech.

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As a result of him simply speaking his mind on a subject – one that millions of Americans likely agreed with him about – he stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s.

But that was then and this is now.

Back in May, Schnatter was on a conference call with marketing agency Laundry Service when he tried to downplay comments he had made about the NFL last fall. He said, “Colonel Sanders called blacks … (expletive) … but never faced any public backlash at KFC. Forbes exposed these comments in a column July 11 about the Papa John’s founder. Schnatter said he used the word in describing how Sanders spoke, but that he would never use it as an epithet.

These words should’ve never come out of this man’s mouth. Schnatter is obviously an intelligent man who created his own business that went worldwide and made him a lot of money, but he should’ve known better than to use this kind of language that is very offensive to blacks and all right-thinking Americans, for that matter. There is simply no place in our society for this type of language from Schnatter or anybody else.

He has since stepped down as chairman of the board of the company. The company has asked that Schattner cease all media appearances and not make any further statements regarding the company, its business or employees. Schattner still remains on the board and is the company’s largest shareholder …

Schattner is now fighting back, saying that the pizza chain doesn’t know how to handle a “crisis based on misinformation” and that he made a mistake agreeing to step down as chairman. Schattner is claiming the board requested he step down as chairman without “any investigation” and that he should not have complied.

It is obviously Schattner’s right to fight back, but it seems abundantly obvious that he made these comments by his own admission. Again, he should have known better, and through his actions we believe he has lost the right to be the face of the company he founded.

Bowling Green Daily News