By Jon Dougherty, editor-in-chief
A Washington state baker who was savaged on social media for selling a single Valentine’s Day cookie emblazoned with the message, “Build the Wall,” is putting them back on sale as a way of expressing himself — and because there is demand for them.
Ken Bellingham of Edmonds, Washington, told KOMO, “The ‘phone messages saved’ has like 40 or 50 messages that I can’t even respond to from people all over the country wanting me to ship them cookies.”
Initially, after a single critic on Facebook led to a virtual cacophony of outrage directed at him, Bellingham issued an apology for what he characterized as a just a joke. But now, he says, he’s “unapologizing.”
â€œAm I supposed to be quiet because I canâ€™t write what I want, or I can only write what they want or makes them happy? No. Thatâ€™s not how it is. They can write whatever they want on their own cookie and I can do that on mine,â€ he told the local TV station.
To him, it’s become a First Amendment issue.
Bellingham says that he was inspired to do the first cookie after getting bored with writing things like “Nice Butt” and other greetings and sayings on his heart-shaped treats.
â€œBecause of the government shutdown, all you heard was â€˜build that wall.â€™ I unwittingly wrote that on a cookie because a lot of people support that. I was back there trying to think of things to put on cookies. My daughter-in-law is a Trumper. I did it with her in mind. And then it got put in the case,â€ he said.
At that point one of his patrons,Â Ana Carrera — a nanny who went to Bellingham’s bakery with the children in her care and who said her parents are from Mexico — became offended.
Others labeled him a racist, which offendedÂ him.
“They donâ€™t even know me. I take trips to Mexico twice a year on a mission with my church. We go to an orphanage in Tijuana. We do work for them. We play with the kids. One of the days we go out into the little villages and pick up their garbage â€¦ I know firsthand what itâ€™s like down there,” he said.
â€œIâ€™m angry that people are angry. It wasnâ€™t a big deal. They made it a big deal. Iâ€™m not a very politically minded person â€¦ I support secure borders,â€ he said, adding that heâ€™s ambivalent on the issue of a wall.
â€œThe story started with a cookie about a wall and now itâ€™s about my First Amendment rights,â€ Bellingham, 67, said, adding, â€œTheyâ€™re called conversation hearts. Arenâ€™t they supposed to start a conversation?”
He noted that he can’t pass up the business opportunity.Â â€œRed ones with â€˜Yes Wallâ€™ and blue ones with â€˜No Wall,â€™ and â€˜Maybe Fenceâ€™ on the purple ones,” he said.
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