May 2017 – Elizabeth Poe (photo above) opened her yarn shop without a start-up loan. More than a sacrificial investment, it was her dream.
The Joy of Knitting in Franklin, Tennessee, is a store where patrons purchase fine yarn, knitting accessories, and unique handmade items. Poe also offers knitting classes where clients spend hours sitting together sharing conversation, laughter, and friendship.
“It’s a family,” Poe told AFA Journal. I’m not just selling yarn in here. I’m selling the experience. The ladies who come in here come to relax.”
So when a woman came in after the Women’s March on Washington and asked for pink yarn to make a “cat hat,”* made to look like a woman’s genitals, Poe was taken aback. Just the day before, Poe had watched video of thousands of women wearing those hats and outlandish costumes representing female reproductive anatomy at the march.
The antagonistic lewdness of the march was embodied by its speakers. Madonna’s speech was riddled with profanity and included an admission that she had fantasized about blowing up the White House.
Actress Ashley Judd, a fellow Franklin resident, vociferously recited a poem titled “Nasty Woman,” also infested with obscenities and bizarre statements.
CEO of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards was there to receive honor and to push what was perhaps the march’s primary agenda – abortion on demand.
After having observed the vulgarity of marchers and speakers, Poe was resolutely unwilling to knowingly participate in their activities on any level. Without hesitation, she responded to the woman, “I don't mean to be rude, but if I had that yarn, I wouldn't sell it to you.”
A proactive approach
Poe has learned some lessons since she opened her store five years ago and thought it prudent to proactively address the subject. Poe posted her position on the Joy of Knitting Facebook page. (See below.)
By the time Poe pulled into her driveway that evening, her post had gone viral. She sat for three hours in her garage with her seatbelt still buckled, shocked, reading and deleting harsh, indecent and threatening comments on the store’s Facebook page.
A host of domestic and international newspapers reported on her post within 12 hours. By 2 a.m., her phone began ringing nonstop.
Over the next several days, the Facebook comments added up to more than 25,000; three out-of-state individuals complained to the local Better Business Bureau; and phone calls steadily streamed in from the U.S. and other countries. Among the infuriated voices, two threatened rape.
Her customers, her business
Undaunted, Poe explained: “If you come in here and tell me you want yarn for a ‘P hat,’ I will walk you to the door and say ‘Your money doesn't spend here.’ And then I would have to turn to my customers and say, ‘I am so sorry that you had to just listen to that word.’”
“The caliber of women who come to my shop – they would have fought for women's rights, but they would have never worn that cat hat,” Poe explained. “They are such good people. So I can't help but want to protect them.
“I've got a lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans who come in here. But they are all nice to each other. You have to behave to come in my shop. That was my point.
“That's what my post was about; it was about prevention. I was actually reminding people how to behave when in public – which is embarrassing. We have no boundaries. We have no sense of decency anymore.”
Artistic freedom, legal rights
Ironically, in recent months it appears to have become acceptable for liberal-minded individuals to exercise freedom of conscience in similar and in more sweeping fashion.
In late November 2016, Sophia Theallet, a fashion designer who dressed Michelle Obama, posted a letter on Twitter preemptively refusing to provide any of her designs to Melania Trump and encouraging fellow designers to do the same.
In the letter, Theallet referred to her business as a “family-owned company” that is not just about money. “We value our artistic freedom,” she wrote, “and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious, and ethical way to create in the world.
“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.”
Another instance is found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where 1st In SEO (internet marketing company) CEO Mathew Blanchfield denounced a broad segment of the U.S. population and proclaimed he would not serve them as customers or employees. In a company blog post in late 2016, he stated:
“If you are a Republican, voted for Donald Trump, or support Donald Trump in any manner, you are not welcome at 1st In SEO, and we ask you to leave our firm. 1st In SEO will do everything in our power to ensure that we break ties with any person or business that supports Fascism.”
He explained his position on Fox News show Tucker Carlson’s Tonight: “As a citizen of the United States, I’m fully within my legal rights and within the state I live in, there’s nothing illegal about me choosing not to do business with someone who supports someone I believe to be a dictator. ”
In recent years, a number of Christian business owners have been harshly punished for operating within the bounds of their conscience. Florist Barronelle Stutzman and bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein did not vow that they would not employ or serve homosexuals, only that they could not extend their artistic gifts and talents to participate in and celebrate same sex marriage. Yet, Stutzman, who employed known homosexuals, has been found guilty of discrimination by a Washington State Supreme Court, and the Kleins were fined $135,000 by the state of Oregon.
In the case of a small yarn store owner, Elizabeth Poe exercised freedom to operate her business in agreement with her conscience, as did the other business owners identified.
The Founding Fathers placed high priority on establishing this freedom as a constitutional, unalienable right.
It should apply across the board for all U.S. citizens – Christians included.
The Joy of Knitting Facebook posting, January 24 – With the recent Women's March on Washington, I ask that you, if you want yarn for any project for the women's movement, please shop for yarn elsewhere. The vulgarity, vile, and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is not welcomed at The Joy of Knitting. I will never need that kind of business to remain open. Two wrongs will never, ever make it right.
As the owner of this business and a Christian, I have a duty to my customers and my community to promote values of mutual respect, love, compassion, understanding, and integrity. The women's movement is counterproductive to unity of family, friends, community, and nation.
I do pray for these women. May God work out His love in their hearts and continue to heal and unite Americans.