I saw this story last night and I admit that I had a moment of cackling glee. Well, perhaps more than a moment, even.
Judge rules bar was allowed to kick out Trump supporter
But then, fortunately or unfortunately, my wiser self, if I can be said to have one, kicked in and I realized that there is really nothing to love here.
A man walks into a bar in Manhattan wearing his Donald Trump “MAGA” hat. The man, an accountant by the name of Greg Piatek, began complaining about the service. Now, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if the service was slow, if the bar was packed and the staff overwhelmed, or what. But after he complained, he was told to leave … which he did. And then he went and found a lawyer and sued the bar.
His lawyer claimed that he was thrown out of the bar because of his religious beliefs, saying that he had visited the 9/11 Memorial and wore the hat as part of his tribute:
“He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11. The ‘Make America Great Again’ hat was part of his spiritual belief. Rather than remove his hat, instead he held true to his spiritual belief and was forced from the bar.”
And thus, said the lawyer, the man was discriminated against on the basis of his religion. Filosofa cries “FOUL” on this one, for since when does wearing Donald Trump branded clothing qualify as a religious rite or ritual?
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen ruled that the law doesn’t protect people from political discrimination, meaning the West Village bar did not overstep its bounds in kicking out the customer. The judge asked Piatek’s lawyer, Paul Liggieri, how the bar staff could have even been aware of Piatek’s ‘religious beliefs’, and the following conversation ensued:
Liggieri: They were aware he was wearing the hat.
Judge Cohen: How many members are in this spiritual program that your client is engaged in?
Liggieri: Your honor, we don’t allege the amount of individuals.
Judge Cohen: So, it’s a creed of one?
Liggieri: Yes, your honor.
And then the judge threw the case out of court, saying …
“Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates. Here the claim that plaintiff was not served and eventually escorted out of the bar because of his perceived support for President Trump is not outrageous conduct.”
Now … I fully agree with the judge and would have been appalled by any other ruling. But, this case brings to light a deeper problem, I think. This was an isolated incident, and likely there was more behind the story than is told in the media, such as rude behaviour on the part of Piatek. But if we extrapolate, if we ask ourselves how this might lead to future incidents of this sort, it isn’t a long leap to envisioning a nation where there are ‘democrat restaurants’ and ‘republican restaurants’, where the partisan divide is taken far beyond the Twitter bickering of today. Is this a world we want? Do we want to have to wear a certain colour, hat, or badge to prove we are of a certain political belief in order to be allowed to enter a public establishment? And, while the hat Piatek was wearing is, to me, akin to the red cape waved in front of a bull by a matador, I also do not wish to live in a world where people are thrown out of bars and restaurants simply for wearing the hat. After all … I wear my Obama shirt in public, which I’m sure is just as annoying to some as the red MAGA hat is to me.
So, my glee was short-lived and now I am left with a conundrum. The judge, in my opinion, could not have ruled otherwise, however does this open a door for more such lunacy? Only time will tell.