Controversy concerning Jimmy John Liautaud, owner and founder of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, erupted in 2015 after a Twitter user posted pictures of Liautaud posing with the spoils of his big game hunting exploits on a 2010 trip to Africa. While the photographs were real, Liautaud says he no longer hunts African big game.
Liautaud now partakes in legal, recreational hunting and fishing; no reason remains for his company to be boycotted. While in 2010 I would have led the pack in boycotting his restaurants, in 2017, Liautaud and his restaurants deserve a fair chance.
Those who continue to vilify Liautaud are either misinformed or are opposed to all recreational hunting. Whether this decision was brought on by a personal epiphany or by the impact his bad press was having on his company, Liautaud’s return to a tamer version of recreational hunting is commendable.
Hunting is a normal and legal activity; fishing and deer or duck hunting do no harm to the species or environment, and as long as the meat is being eaten, these animals are not killed in vain. Vegetarianism is a separate issue — the restaurant does sell meat, after all.
Being a conscious consumer is important, and the knowledge that giving money to certain companies can potentially fund the owners’ personal recreation is an inescapable reality. Emory students, who are major supporters of the businesses in Emory Village, must remain educated consumers.
For those planning to boycott the Jimmy John’s chain, the cause for protest is gone. That does not erase the damage that Liautaud’s hunting may have caused in the past, but a continued boycott of the company is no longer merited.
Hobby Lobby refuses to give its employees birth control, Chick-fila is homophobic; Jimmy John’s, however, no longer warrants the same scorn. The Emory Village Jimmy John’s — and all locations for that matter — can now be judged by less controversial criteria: the quality of their sandwiches and how freaky fast their delivery really is.
Annie Cohen is a College sophomore from New Orleans