By BEN R. WILLIAMS
More than 25 years ago, I had a dream: a dream of owning my own restaurant, a simple sort of place where families could come and enjoy a great-tasting, reasonably-priced hamburger, a basket of endless fries, and the best dang milkshake in town.
It took a lot of hard work to reach my goal. I cleaned out my savings account. I worked day and night to renovate the restaurant. I think I still have paint under my fingernails from that mural in the Kidz Zone! But I saw it through, and over the decades, I’ve watched my business grow.
Yes, for 25 years, Big Bud’s Burgers has been a pillar in this community, a place where everyone knows their dollar will stretch and no one leaves unhappy.
But now, after all this time, I’m starting to worry that I’m going to have to shut my doors. People just aren’t coming in like they used to. I’ve seen hurtful threads on Facebook encouraging people to boycott my business. Just the other day, someone wrote a very foul message on the front window. It’s an absolute travesty.
All this, just because the police recently outed me for being The Flatwoods Strangler.
Listen: everyone has a part of their life they keep to themselves. We shouldn’t boycott people just because of what they do or think in private! Maybe your aunt doesn’t like dogs, or your grandpa voted for Lyndon LaRouche, or your cousin was discovered to be responsible for more than 70 strangulations occurring in and around Flatwoods township between 1981 and present. That doesn’t mean you should just cut that person out of your life. That seems pretty judgmental to me.
It seems like about half this country believes that the other half isn’t entitled to their own opinion anymore. They aren’t willing to simply “agree to disagree.” No, it’s “my way or the highway” for them! Well, I’m tired of it. We could all stand to be a little more accepting around here.
Just a few months ago, a fellow came into the restaurant wearing a shirt with one of those rainbow “Pride” flags on it. Did I agree with that shirt? No. But did I kick him out of my restaurant? Of course not. Part of being a bigger person is simply accepting someone even when you don’t agree with them.
But of course, when I was getting shoved into a squad car after a grizzled, long-retired detective finally connected me to the series of horrific stranglings that had plagued the town of Flatwoods for forty years, who was right there shouting hurtful things such as “MURDERER!” at me? Yep, you guessed it, ol’ rainbow shirt.
The hypocrisy is just amazing. Just because I strangled his brother, that doesn’t give him the right to judge me.
My whole life, nothing has brought me more joy than serving delicious, home-cooked meals to the fine folks of this community, and also strangling people. Now, it seems as though I’m a victim of “cancel culture.” I’ve been ostracized by the very community that I have come to love and terrorize. This has all just gotten so far out of hand.
You know, our Founding Fathers were pretty smart. They came up with a little something called “The First Amendment.” Maybe you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t, let me break it down for you: The First Amendment gives me the right to say and do whatever I want and strangle whomever I want without ever having to face any kind of consequences, ever, for the rest of my life. Maybe you ought to read your Constitution, it’s right there in black and white.
To all those who still support me and my business, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And to all those who have tried to cancel me, well, you’d better check your locks.