Friday Question of the Day – Was the City Right to Make the Pug Remove “The Ward 8 Special – Marion Berry’s Dirty Asian Summer Punch”?

Photo tweeted by @mikedebonis

Folks have been talking a bit about this in the rant/revel section but I’ve gotten a few requests to start a separate thread on it. For those who missed it, The Washington Post’s Mike Debonis wrote:

The punch, a fruity vodka concoction, was whipped up by the H Street NE bar’s owner, Tony Tomelden, as an admittedly crude but satirical tribute to D.C. Council member Marion Barry’s controversial comments this year criticizing Asian shop owners and Filipino nurses.

On Thursday, the Office of Human Rights delivered a letter to Tomelden calling the sign “racially offensive” and requesting that it be taken down and “Dirty Asian Summer Punch” be taken off the menu.

Tomelden was given 72 hours to remove the “Dirty Asian Summer Punch” sign, lest the agency pursue a “formal charge” against him with the Commission on Human Rights. A commission proceeding can result in a cease-and-desist order and civil fines of up to $10,000 for a first-time offender.

Read the full story here.

Did the the Office of Human Rights do the right thing? Or, whether you found the sign offensive or not, do you think it should have been protected under freedom of speech?

161 Comment

  • Why didn’t the office of human rights fine Marion Barry $10,000?

    • Exactly!! Marion’s the one who recently called DC a “plantation.”

    • brookland_rez

      LOL, Marion Barry is the only one they let get away with stuff like that. If they fined him $10,000 for every time he said something, he’d have been broke long ago.

    • I don’t understand why the ACLU don’t get involve by protecting this business owners right to free speech and free expression? I see the D.C. Office of Human Rights isn’t going after the Washington Redskins for using this name. You see, Dan Synder has lot’s of money and he can take on D.C. left wing liberal government or the D.C. Office of Human Rights. I thought we live in the United States of America where people can say whatever they like as long as they aren’t threatening to kill or hurt someone.

    • This was my first thought, as well.

  • I’d love to see the DC Office of Human Rights try to prosecute this.

    • agreed, it’s patently unconstitutional to tell someone they can’t say something offensive. the dc nanny state at its finest

  • Why ask them to take the drink off the menu? Why not just ask them to give it a less offensive name?

  • FOIA, FOIA, FOIA. Please, someone with more idle time on their hands, file a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the decision making behind this investigation. It reeks to high heavens. I hope Mike Debonis asks the Post to do a little investigating of its own.

  • The punch special and advert were satirical and political commentary of public statements made by a sitting DC Councilmember. If Tony were to file suit, a court should quickly find that the overbearing actions of the Office of Human Rights were in clear violation of Tony’s first adendment rights. It would be an embarrassment for the city.

  • I find fruity vodka concoctions more offensive then the sign. The sign is clearly satire. Even if a patron had not heard of Barry’s remark, or even knew who he was, the “Ward eight” reference lets you know it is a political thing, and so therefore something stupid. The caricature face is a little more aggressive satire – pointing to the logical conclusion of the remarks that Barry made.

    I’m pretty sure however, if an Asian bar patron, or anyone really, expressed discomfort with the image, Tomelden would have erased the face.

    I was somewhat appalled several years ago when Restoration Hardware catalog offered a towel rack named after a horrible massacre (Culloden) though I assumed, correctly, that it was from ignorance of the event. But they did discontinue the name.

  • Hipster racism.

  • Why perpetuate the stupid terms of Barry? Even in jest, I just don’t think it is appropriate. How long was the drink on the menu? Too much longer and it might have soured.

    • not perpetuate – but, MOCK – and Barry the Felon should definitely be mocked!

      • Not everyone understands it is meant to mock. H st is filled with people of all ages at most times of the day and evening. You want 12 year old kids to learn its funny?

        • Do 12 year olds hang out at The Pug?

        • So the populations you are concerned about are the satirically obtuse and the 12 year old dive bar crowd. I”m okay with offending the prior, and I think the former have bigger life issues to overcome.

    • Whether the Pug should have named the drink that (which I have no problem with) and whether the city should take action to restrict the Pug’s speech. The latter is a real problem despite whether you find the Pug’s satirical name offensive or not.

  • I kind of think that maybe a visitor to Toki – right above Pug – who was maybe in the Pug waiting for their seat – might’ve complained. It could only be someone who doesn’t know TonyT and how much he has contributed to the community and all of DC, really. He’s a stand up guy, and hence took the higher road on this bogus issue.

    • “I kind of think”…”maybe a visitor”…”maybe in the Pug”…might’ve complained.”

      Congrats. I think you found the limit on how many qualifiers one can use to water down a point!

      • darling – I wasn’t making a point, I was suggesting a scenario. Also – put on your big boy/girl pants and get a real handle – “anonymous” is lazzzzy

  • As an Asian-American living in DC I don’t really know what to think of the sign. I was deeply offended by Marion Barry’s comments earlier this year, and because I know the background of the story, I know it is supposed to be sarcastic. But at the same time if I didn’t know the background I would find it offensive. Just a word of warning sometimes humor/sarcasm with racists undertones can still be offensive.

    • It’s clearly satire, and protected by his first amendment rights. Also, the Post article (if you bother to read it) says Tony (bar owner) is part Asian himself, making it even more ridiculous. If you’re offended, that’s fine. There’s no law against offending someone, and free speech is a right we cherish in America.

    • Life must be hard for all those so easily deeply offended.

  • I can sympathize with Mr. Tomelden for having no interest in fighting this, but if it were me, I’d say “bring it on.”

    You wouldnt be in business long.

  • Imagine this sign using another minority race. Dirty Black? And then a caricature of a black person? Everyone would be up in arms.

    • And rightly so.

    • Yes, it would be offensive, but it would not be a human rights violation.

      • Maybe not, but I think the standing of how politically powerful the Asian American community and the African-American community in DC would make it so that the owner wouldn’t even have done it if it was making fun of blacks. He would know that it would cause a shitstorm for him and his business. Asians? Meh….

        • Nothing you’ve said is incorrect. Nothing you’ve said supports the application of an arguably unconstitutional law in this situation.

  • Nobody has a right to not be offended. Everyone has a right to free speech.

    Has the Office of Human Rights ever fined the Redksins?

  • Enforcing a law that is a clear violation of the First Amendment, at least in this application, through fear (fear of the costs of challenging and the fine) is simply not okay. Frankly its an abuse of power and an example of horrible judgment in prosecutorial discretion by the city. I hope someone takes it on as a pro bono case.

  • Marion Barry, his attitudes and his comments are more offensive than this drink name could ever be.

  • As an Asian guy who loves that bar, I say that’s crap. I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s good that we have reminders that Marion Barry is an outdated dinosaur who inexplicably continues to get re-elected when Ward 8 needs serious younger blood.

  • saf

    It was racist. It was obnoxious.

    It was protected speech.

    • No, sweetie, it was not racist. What the Disgrace of DC said was racist. What they said was satirical and humorously objected to his racism. You don’t see the difference?

      If you think it’s objectively and inherently racist to use the phrase “Dirty Asian” — that it simply cannot ever be used in a non-racist way — then, my dear, you will have to object to this very PoP post, because it used the phrase in order to report on the controversy. If you accept that PoP can use the phrase in reportage and not be racist, then you have to accept that the phrase is not a locked down signifier that must always be racist. And in that case, you will have to click the ON switch in your brain and examine this particular situation.

  • Could they just change it to “Bitch Set Me Up” punch? that would at least only be offensive to women. (I’m a a woman btw).

  • everytime something like this comes up, i think of this mexican place in bethesda that has a horrible caricature of “Uncle Julio” displayed on the outside.
    i cringe everytime i go past it.

  • Why do we even have an office of human rights?

    We have laws, and those laws should be enforced by police.

  • i understand why people are upset that the government took action in this case, but what i will never understand is how people adamantly defend such disgusting and tasteless racism. even people who love marion barry denounced his dirty asian remarks. but people defending the pug for this ugliness? folks, just cuz you like a guy and a place doesn’t mean they are always in the right.

    • there’s a difference between an elected official saying racists things and privately owned business with an offensive caricature on a chalk board.

    • he might have been wrong but its not against the law to be wrong. i say the sky is green, sue me.

      • Well, I could sue you. And analogously the DC government did sue this owner. It may be worth it to you to withdraw the idea that the sky is green, and it may be worth it to the owner to withdraw the his little board. Maybe you’d think it’s worth the money to keep saying the sky is green and you’ll go through the costly, both legally and in terms of the public humiliation you receive, but maybe you wouldn’t. That’s all part of the process.

    • actually, people are defending the right to satire–it’s protected speech.

  • They should rename it the “Gustavo F. Velasquez Celebration Cocktail”

  • I think it’s okay for me to be ironically racist – I have an Asian friend so it’s all good.

  • Should there be a law against posting signs that discourage minorities from patronizing a public accommodation? Yes.
    Was the law misapplied here by being used to censor plainly political speech? Yes.
    Was this political speech tasteless, likely to be misunderstood by some people, and should the owner have willingly taken it down anyway? Yes, yes, and yes.
    Is the sign somehow ok because the owner is half Asian? No.

    • Is it a human rights violation? NO!

      • Is it legal for a government entity to threaten to sue an establishment in order to coerce it into removing what could be interpreted hate speech? Yes.

        Is it the right of the bar owner to stick to his “principals” and challenge the government entity? Yes.

        • Actually, the answer to your first is no. It is not legal for the government to strongarm people through methods that would be overturned as violations of the Constitution. That the government gets away from it does not make it legal.

          • Further, the First Amendment has been found to protect hate speech. Hence, the D.C. government is forbidden from regulating it.

          • Actually, the answer is “it depends.” You assume there is a constitutional violation here. Not so clear, IMO, particulary if the Pug’s speech is deemed commerical, rather than political.

          • It has been established for almost 50 years that governments can permissibly forbid private restaurants from excluding people based on race. If I post a sign in my restaurant saying “No Blacks Allowed,” the First Amendment will not prevent the government from coming after me. The DC law in question is targeted both toward these blatantly discriminatory statements and toward more subtle statements that might serve to exclude people based on race. I’m fine with this. But, as I said, I think the law was misapplied here.

          • Agree with you Kenyon.

            As for above, even if it were considered commercial speech, I still think this is clearly protected. I don’t see the substantial state interest, as this is not a case in which the speech is intended to exclude a group of patrons for discriminatory interest. If you argue that the state has a substantial interest in preventing this type of speech because it’s offensive, then I wonder if you are undercutting a conclusion that it is commercial speech (since the regulation is unrelated to the commercial aspect of the speech).

            I’m fine with “it depends,” but I would suggest very much more likely than not this would be found unconstitutional.

      • This is a complex question in which the Due Process rights of patrons (Asian patrons) bump up against the First Amendment rights of the bar owner. Here, I think the balance leans in favor of the bar owner because he didn’t exclude Asians, he didn’t actually intend to exclude Asians, and his speech was (probably) politically motivated.

        • Knowing what we know, I’d tend to agree with you. I think my point was more that the comments seems to treat this as a knock-down first amendment violation (if the Pug fought it), when it is not.

        • It’s not due process rights, because due process is the requirement that the state, not individual parties, respect your rights. So there are not two countervailing constitutional interests – there is just the First Amendment.

          So if found to be commercial speech, the question is if there is a substantial state interest. Discrimination may be a substantial state interest. I don’t think there is that strong an argument that this picture actually had any effect or intent of discrimination, even if many found it offensive.

          I think it is a First Amendment slam dunk if you assume that there is no evidence of such discrimination. A substantial state interest in prohibiting offensive speech certainly does not jive well with the First Amendment.

  • I practice in con law, and in particular 1A rights w/r/t commercial speech. This would be a fantastic case to litigate, but would take a significant commitment from the Pug’s owners/management. So, as a lawyer, I’d say “bring it,” but as a businessman, I’d have to think about saying “not worth it.”

  • The name of the drink…Its free speech, as is the dialog in this thread. Free market means we can choose not to be a patron in a restaurant.

    its not clear that there is deprivation. DC is not serving it self well.

    • The free market means that if you insult 60 percent of the population in DC, you shouldn’t do it. But if you insult only 3.5 percent of the population (the DC Asian Population, which includes Indians and Middle Eastern, so the actual population this bar is offending is even smaller) that’s totally fine because it won’t hurt your bottom line enough.

  • I’m Asian and that caricature is offensive.

    • Does that make it illegal?

      • It makes him an asshole and I hope this gets as much publicity as possible so people don’t go there.

        • That’s not how publicity works.

          By the way there is a back story to this you might want to read. Are you familiar with a person by the name of Marion Barry?

          • “How about it offends me, an Asian American, who gets irony and sarcasm, but does genuinely find it racist, and understands free speech and all that, but doesn’t like the idea of casual racism against Asians being used to sell some shitty drinks?”

            This sums it up. From a poster above.

        • he’s not an asshole and i agree that this will only make more people go there. harry, we won’t miss you.

    • Real easy for PoP’s white privileged commenters to try to tell me what I can and cannot be offended by. I don’t think that this needed city interference, but the Pug will never get a penny from me again.

  • Dear Prince of Petworth,

    Please take down this thread, and cease all comments on this thread. Our research shows there could possibly be Asians in our community who browse this website.

    DC Office of Human Rights

  • I am tempted to say NO. And I’m sure strictly legally speaking it probably wasn’t illegal to have that caricature and the drink special but then again I’m not Asian and I’m sure to a lot of Asians this was offensive.

  • I find images of Che Guevara (a man who actually did violate human rights) offensive. Can I get the city to fine Busboys and Poets?

  • I see this as a first amendment issue, pure and simple. Such a fine would not stand under the first amendment in my view but I don’t fault the business for not going to war with the city over it.

  • Scrillin

    I’ll start feeling bad when everybody gets up in arms about every pizzeria in town having Italian-American caricatures.

  • I’m from Canada, eh? And this maybe would be classified as hate speech there, as it would in a lot of first world democracies. In others, you could go even crazier than America with offensive speech. I don’t see evidence of limited hate speech as really preventing a fully functional democracy at all, and in the case of of many countries it has led to an erosion of democracy and government instability. Yes, its unconstitutional, so that’s all we need to say to stop any kind of critical thinking on our end? “Oh, it’s the constitution, well, that’s all I need to hear, because the constitution and our interpretation of it is always right.”

    • As a foreigner you are not allowed to say things in public! – see where you could end up when you start the slippery slope of limited rights on speech. “Political Correctness” is just a form of controlling peoples thoughts and speech. No thanks. Let me decide if someone is a racist -Marion Barry – or mocking a racist – owner of the Pug.

      • I’d really like you to back up the “slippery slope” argument with real hard data, that it does indeed lead to democratically debilitating curbs to free speech. Peer reviewed political science articles that proof this, because there are plenty of countries that limit free speech (Britain, Japan, German, Canada) etc that are working just fine. Everything can be claimed to be a slippery slope. Gay marriage is a slippery slope to pedaphila. Marijuana decriminalization s a slippery slope to harder drugs. Show me evidence.

        • The slippery slope argument is for the weak of mind. “Well if we do this, what will EVER keep us from doing that!?”… uh the fact that its not what we’re doing?

          See also: comparisons to “thats what the nazis did….at first”.

        • Brittan, love it as I do is a far less free place with an Orwellian security apparatus. Japan is notorious for its xenophobia as is Germany. Canada is your only real argument.

          Are you saying that shoving things under the carpet makes these places somehow tangibly better off than the US? They each lack something we don’t and yes that is a slippery slope. Of course I would trade free speech for any of their health care systems 😉

          Gay marriage as a slippery slope to “pedophilia” is of course a false argument that we can talk best about without censorship or limited free speech. Marijuana decriminalization as a slippery slope to harder drugs is another false argument as harder drugs (alcohol) are already legal.

          anything else you want to “debate” without censorship.

          • I’m not saying they are less free. I am saying do they have debilitating democracy because of it? Is the exchange so not worth it? What do we gain from protecting hate speech (and I’m not saying this is incident is definitely hate speech)? Some sort of ideal of not being able to totally freely use are speech, which is limited anyway. What would we gain?

            To be topical, that anti muslim video is protected by free speech. It had tragic consequences. Was the benefit of that guy being able to make a shitty video deliberately designed to inflame middle eastern sensibility worth the lives of US civilians? Maybe, but make a case for it other than “We want to be as free as possible.” We don’t live in anarchy, and the majority of us don’t want to live in anarchy. There are limits to our freedoms. This is obviously beyond the scope of this stupid little story about a bar, but stop saying, it’s in the constitution or it makes us freer and tell me if the societal benefit of being able to say whatever you want outweighs the consequences of being able to screw over minorities or other marginalized groups.

            As for slippery slope, sorry, but the same logic you can use to say that those two aren’t slippery slopes but this one can be doesnt work.

          • The topic of the video / riots is the ultimate proof of why we should cherish the freedom of speech. In a society capable of expressing its self freely we can share ideas, even bad ones. In the Middle East ideas and speech are morbidly censored by religion, government and mobs. Which do you think is preferable?

          • It’s not zero sum.

          • in the context of the video / riots it appears to be.

          • There are many many fully functioning democracies that exist around the world that have censored hate speech, so uh, I believe you can curb hate speech and not automatically turn the US into a state like Libya. Please explain what concrete things it costs for countries like Canada and Germany that have these limitations to free speech.

          • It’s is a loss of freedom of ideas and speech and general liberty to have the government limit why you can and can’t say. It’s the equivalent of saying you the people are not mature enough to hear evil things. Wouldn’t you rather have all that evil out in the open where it can be talked about constructively and called out as wrong publicly. In the case of Germany it’s clear that they don’t trust their own people not to act on those comments. I’ll admit that we waste much of our freedom of speech but it is an elevated goal of our society to maintain these lofty ideals. I think that yelling fire in a movie theater should be illegal but no one is being endangered by that movie in the Middle East. most of them haven’t even seen it and if they did it’s because they looked for it.

          • Well, in post World War I Germany, the lack of curbing of free speech led to radical right and left wing agitation, which lead to politically motivated killings and the rise of…what eventually gave us Godwin’s Law. In Post World War II Germany (and other European States) up to now, they put curbs to free speech because they don’t believe the pros, total free speech, outweighs the cons, which in their example, actually led to the erosion of democracy. Seeing how Germany, isn’t some backwards dystopia where no independent ideas spring out, I don’t really buy into the idea that free speech much be completely free to have a well functioning democracy. And in some cases, I would say that it actually hinders democracy.

          • So if the Germans (or anyone else) can’t handle an American level of free speech we should give up that right? Not a compelling argument.

    • Name a single nation that has stronger free speech protections than the United States. You stated it a funny way but yes, it’s true, even first world democracies fall short of matching our free speech rights, but it’d be news to me to learn that there are any with even more.

      • Well, free speech covers a lot of different aspects. Freedom of Press, US is ranked around 20 usually.

        • Are you being dismissive or just clueless? I’m talking about actual legal protection from government censorship, not some random lobbying group’s survey of how comfortable journalists feel as journalists by country.

  • If satire needs months of context and require reading the same news sources to understand, then its not really appropriate to be put on a public facility. While its obviously satire to most of us, we arent representative of the majority of people, even customers at the Pug. Its offensive without understanding the entire context and could ostracize and marginalize a minority. If a governor in Alabama used the word “tar babies” to describe black people and the owner of an establishment named a drink Governor’s Tar Baby Gimlet with a drawing of a face with big lips, people would be outraged.

    You think its not public and they should be able to do whatever they want? No. Their freedom to do whatever they want ends as soon as they open their doors to the public. Establishments are constrained by many non-discrimination laws.

    Are you allowed to have a bumper sticker with that? Yes. Are you allowed to put it in your public establishment? No.

    This isnt really that monumental. It has nothing to do with DC being “broken” and it has nothing to do with “freedom of speech”. Government putting this type of restriction on public establishments has been upheld again and again.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    • I think you may actually be right. It is different from a satirical writer authoring an article that pokes fun at Barry’s comments. It’s different from a comedian performing a piece poking fun at Barry’s comments. The Pug is a commercial establishment, and commercial establishments are no stranger to regulation of speech that could be seen as discriminatory.

    • “If a governor in Alabama used the word “tar babies” to describe black people and the owner of an establishment named a drink Governor’s Tar Baby Gimlet with a drawing of a face with big lips, people would be outraged.”

      Not many commenters here would be, apparently.

      • What if you knew that the bar owner disagreed with the comments and was making fun of the politician? Should every piece of humor come with a warning “This is a joke”.. jeez

    • The term “tar baby” doesn’t refer to black people in a derogatory way – such as terms like “pickanniny.” Yes, the “baby” is black in color – but it really just means a sticky situation – and a clever battle of wits. A tar baby is a lump of tar dressed like a baby, concocted by Br’er Fox to confound Br’er Rabbit. But Br’er Rabbit’s wit prevails.

      A great and complex story/fable now sadly crushed by ignorance.

      • You must be aware that there are sometimes two meanings of the same word, right?

        Tar baby can absolutely be racist. For example, the scenario I described.

  • What would you get out of it? A court ruling in your favor and being known as the guy who went to court for the right to disparage Asians in your bar? Good business move.

    • Attorney’s fees.

      And being known as the lawyer who protected satire from stupidity.

      Plus just being a fighter for the First Amendment. Popular speech is never at risk — it’s always unpopular speech. And defending those folks’ rights ends up protecting yours.

      • I think the writer was asking what the bar owner would get out of it, not what the bar owner’s lawyer would get out of it.

        If, on the other hand, you mean that the bar owner would have his attorney’s fees paid by the city, that is highly unlikely.

  • All I can say is let’s just be glad that we are worrying over this and the murder rate is down 480 from fifteen years ago. I suppose it’s a good problem to have.

    But people, let’s also remember that there are big things and little things and wherever you come down on this issue it’s a little thing.

    Sounds like the owner understood that and should be applauded for his rationality. Can’t say the same for our city government unfortunately.

    • It’s only a little thing to someone who isn’t in the disparaged race. As an Asian American I find the caricature and the phrase “no tickee no punchee” extremely offensive. Now before everyone jumps down my throat let me make it clear that I understand and know the entire backstory about the “dirty asian” statement made by Marion Barry. And if the the owner would have stopped at the name of the drink, which explains the context for the slur and lays the responsibility at the feet of the person who made the horrible remarks in the first place, and left it at that I would not have a problem. But to add the offensive drawing and phrase, it really took things too far. The fact that the owner is part Asian actually makes this offense even worse, for him to perpetuate the stereotypes of the slanty-eyed Asian who can’t speak proper English was a really poor choice on the owner’s part. I won’t try to understand the nuances of interpreting the First Amendment, but what I do know is that when incidents like this occur they should be recognized and called out. I find it quite distasteful and will not be frequenting any establishment that feels the need to use racial stereotypes to sell their products, “satire” or not.

  • Genuinely curious: As an Asian could I sue the bartender for libel? I happy to be fairly clean!

    • I assume you’re kidding, but in case you’re not, the answer is no. The defamatory claim would have to be directed specifically to you.

      • I was joking in that I would never actually do it. But I was wondering if I could actually have a possibility of winning such a case. What about a class action suit?

  • I’m Asian and I find this and that stupid chalk drawing offensive. Yes, I get it, but it’s still offensive. Go ahead and practice your 1st amendment rights, and I’ll practice mine.

    • You hit the nail on the head. You should be able to practice your First Amendment rights by writing to the owner, to PoP, to the newspaper, to blogs, etc. about how you find it to be offensive. If the owner, under public pressure, changes the image, that’s great and fine for those offended.

      However, the government is forbidden by the First Amendment to be that sensor. That’s what’s at issue.

      • The issue may be first amendment rights to free speech but you’re picking a battle of a guy who made a bad casually racist satirical advertising for his drink. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, he has a right to say it, but why the hell are you defending a casually racist joker who is profiting off it? Why don’t you pick a different person who is not profiting off bad racist humor and defend from being censured?

      • You are incorrect.

        • I may not have been precise, but I don’t think I was wrong. A claim that that government can regulate commercial establishments’ speech at will is similarly imprecise and arguably wrong. You are right that government in many circumstances can regulate speech to prevent discrimination. In this case in particular, I think there is a pretty weak argument that the Pug’s actions, no matter how offensive it might be, had a discriminatory effect or intent. (And people choosing not to go there because they find the graphic offensive is not discrimination.)

          • I didnt make any imprecise statement. In fact, I said precisely, that this type of speech could be regulated.

            All of this doesnt even matter, the owner voluntarily removed the menu item and drawing. They threatened to pursue a proceeding. The owner was free to go through the process, but decided not to.

            He had the freedom to challenge it on first amendment grounds and he didnt. El Fin.

          • Didn’t mean to say you had been imprecise before, just meant that such a claim would be.

            I agree with you saying it’s done. It just doesn’t sit too well with me that the government can use fear and force (the threat of the fine and in general the prohibitive legal fees it would cost to fight) to get around what would possibly (and in my opinion very likely) be found to violate the First Amendment.

          • To JB, the protector and defender of the first amendment. I think you may have a job at the ACLU bro. You’re so virtuous.

  • As an Asian, more than anything else it makes me feel marginalized. I can take my business elsewhere. Other Asians who don’t like it can also take their business elsewhere. But we are probably 1% of the population of the city. Just because of simple demographics, our wallet voting isn’t powerful enough, not because its “just” however you want to interpret that.

  • Let me be more concise, as people are still outraged on first amendment grounds.

    The first amendment is not an absolute right to offend anyone you want at anytime, under all circumstances, in all venues, at all times. Maybe thats what you got out of your 6th grade civics class, but there are enforceable limits in some cases, such as when it comes to commercial enterprise.

    KKK Rally = ok (if you get a permit!)
    Dirty Asian Drink with Illustration != ok

    • I’d like to also point out, that this could either be motivated as satire on Barry, or a marketing gimmick to appear edgy, but doesn’t actually hurt the owner. People are saying this guy is actually a pretty nice guy, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, though it’s not to say it can’t be a blend.

      Let’s not assume this was automatically high minded if unsuccessful attempt at slamming Barry. There are obviously commercial aspects to doing what he did.

  • this is an honest question – what does “an Asian” mean? almost 4 billion people live in Asia.

  • The Pug defenders reminds me of Barry defenders… “He’s a great guy, he didn’t mean it that way, 1st amendment, freedom of speech”.

  • Just rename it: “Barry the racist a$$hole.” Makes the same point.

  • How do people live with such thin skin?

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