Jan Cienski in Warsaw -
"There's no such thing as bad publicity," goes the old PR adage, one that definitely applies to brewer Marek Jakubiak, who has become embroiled in a nationwide controversy after denouncing the pro-gay comments of a retired boxing champion.
The fuss prompted three leftwing Warsaw bars to ostentatiously pour his (paid for) beer into rubbish bins, but has also turned his niche Ciechan brand into a national talking point.
Jakubiak aroused a wave of controversy by his colourful scolding of boxer Dariusz Michalczewski, who recently appeared at a pro gay and lesbian event called “Shoulder to Shoulder for Equality – LGBT and Friends”, where he declared that gays were no worse than heterosexuals, and supported their right to adopt children.
Both ideas are still very controversial in Poland, one of Europe's most Catholic countries, where the church still wields enormous authority and gay rights trail far behind the countries of western Europe.
Unprompted, Jakubiak took to Facebook, posting: “Boxing is supposedly harmful and this is the indisputable proof!" He also commented on how Jakubiak would have liked to be without a mother's breasts to suck.
His comment set off a media storm. Michalczewski, an enormously popular figure in Poland who goes by the nickname of “Tiger”, was invited to the country's top TV chat show and interviewed by leading newspapers, where he did not hold back on criticising Jakubiak. “It's some sort of primitive babbling,” he told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, going on to suggest that Jakubiak was suffering from sexual frustration.
Even more painfully, Michalczewski admitted that he didn't like beer. “Beer? That's not for me,” he said.
Neither did three Warsaw bars popular with the city's rapidly growing leftwing counter-cultural fringe. “After several years of cooperation, we are resigning from selling Ciechan beer,” wrote the owner of the Wrzenie Swiata (World Brewing) pub.
Jakubiak quickly pulled his Facebook post and announced he was not a homophobe, although he said he was against adoption of children by gay couples.
However, his foray into the treacherous world of sexual politics has garnered him the support of conservative politicians (who seem to have overlooked Jakubiak's ostentatious atheism in rushing to back him).
“I can't imagine life without Ciechan,” rightwing politician Artur Zawisza told the natemat web portal. “I'm going to drink it as much for reasons of taste as for solidarity with its unconventional and brave owner.”
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