Where Do I Subscribe?

Ever hear of Houstonia magazine?  If not, do not feel like you are uninformed or tragically unhip, it just means that you, like me, do not happen to live in the Houston area.  Except now, even though I live quite a distance away from Houston, and Houston isn’t near the top of my list of places in America I want to visit, I suddenly have the urge to get a subscription.

Why would I want a magazine dedicated to exploring a city I may never visit?  Well, the magazine recently ran the following obviously controversial advertisement:

0815-editors-note-ad_i3qvnp-photo taken from Houstonia.

As you can no doubt see, running an advertisement with this picture was a slap in the……  Wait a second.  What’s supposed to be controversial here?  Wait, the fact that the couple is interracial?  You gotta be fucking kidding me.  That can’t be it.  What am I missing?

Anyway, to put it simply, the magazine got complaints.  (Hat tip to Salon for leading me to this story, though any quotes are taken from the Houstonia link.)

First of all, after snatching the magazine out of his waiting room before impressionable eyes could see it, a Dr. Tomball pulled out some of the crayons they keep for kids and went to town, leaving the magazine’s editor suitably impressed:

Not so Dr. Tomball, who on May 26 sent an email to the Ashton Martini Group registering his disapproval. The note, which I have seen, carries the subject “Disgusting Ad,” and explains: “Your ad in the June Houstonia magazine is DISGUSTING! I will not put this magazine in my reception area! If you care to discuss this,” the note concluded, “I am available.”

As it happens, we did care to discuss this with Dr. Tomball, who oddly was not available when we attempted to make contact.

The vicious backlash continued a week later:

Exactly one week later, we heard from a second man, this time a resident of the Memorial area, who called to say that although he usually likes Houstonia, he “just can’t go for racial mixing.” The caller—identifying himself only as Fred—voiced his concern that children might see the ad and “get it into their heads that this is okay.” To ensure that that did not happen, the man informed us that he’d taken our June issue straight from the mailbox to the trash can, although he declined our invitation to cancel his subscription altogether. He counts himself among this magazine’s fans, he told us.

Bigots gotta bigot, amirite?  What sets this apart from other cases of bigots whining that bigotry isn’t culturally acceptable anymore is the heartfelt response to this bigotry from the magazine’s editor-in-chief Scott Vogel.  First off, Scott calls his dance troupe together and lets “Fred” know that he has just been served:

Well, we are not fans of him. Indeed, if Memorial Fred ever finds the courage to call and give us his full name, we will remove him from our subscription rolls immediately.

Turning his attention to the “good” doctor, Scott helpfully cancels his subscription for him since, in his outrage, he apparently forgot to do it himself:

I’m not sure if Dr. Tomball is a fan of this publication or not. I do know that if so, he will have to go get it himself, as we will no longer be sending copies to his office.

Mr. Vogel then closes with a brilliant statement of diversity and a mission statement I can definitely get behind.

Houstonia’s championing of diversity does not extend to bigots, and while we are by definition dedicated to discovering the best things about this city, we’ll never ignore the worst. On the contrary, our magazine’s mission is to maintain standards of quality always and everywhere, in burgers, in bike trails and in readers, Dr. Tomball included.

And if he cares to discuss this, I am available.

That sound you just heard was the microphone hitting the floor.  So….  Where do I subscribe?


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