A bar in Texas is facing backlash after a worker made a domestic violence joke on one of its signs and then refused to remove it after a complaint.
On Saturday, Courtney Williams was celebrating a night out with some friends in Plano, when she spotted a sign at Scruffy Duffies, a local bar. The sign read "I like my beer like I like my violence—domestic." Needless to say, Williams was horrified at what she saw (the heart sign at the end of the message probably didn't help either). According to Eater, Williams had a difficult time getting the bar's management to listen:
Williams adds that she faced serious condescension from one of the managers ("he told me to calm down, and that if I hadn't been so 'aggressive' the conversation would go better") and was eventually denied admittance when she tried to re-enter the bar to give friends a hug before leaving.
Yes, if only she'd behaved like a demure, delicate Southern belle I'm sure they would have pulled it right down. Funny how they turned the problem with their shitty joke into an issue of her reaction to it, isn't it? Oh wait. That's not funny (much like that dumb, tired old joke).
Williams shared the full story of what happened that night in a Facebook post the next day:
On Saturday May 24th, 2014, a few friends and myself were out celebrating a couple of birthdays. Having things to do the next day, I wasn't drinking myself, but the rest of them were having a great time. Walking into Scruffy Duffies (http://www.scruffyduffies.com/)in the Shops of Legacy at Plano ended any fun I was having that night. Upon our entry to the outdoor area, we were greeted with the sign: Text: I like my beer how I like my violence. Domestic. Disgusting. There is an old saying that all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. While most people in the bar would probably agree that sign was in bad taste, no one had done anything to take it down (that I knew of).
The sign immediately struck me in the worst way. Not only did it dreg up some unpleasant memories in my life, but it struck a chord that this bar was condoning domestic violence as a joke and expressing that victims were no more important than the type of beer someone was drinking. My revulsion propelled me to act, my first move being to ask who put up the sign at the bar. Surprisingly, it was a female bartender who had written it. I only say I was surprised because the majority of domestic violence that I am familiar with was against women.
When I asked if she could take the sign down, she bewilderedly declined, as though she couldn't understand why I was upset. Upon returning to my table, I spoke to my friends and decided to speak to a manager. I walked up to the front of the bar to where a gentleman was checking IDs. Upon asking for a manager, I explained my issue with the sign, and he indicated he himself was a manager. I let him know, bluntly, that it was disgusting, and that I would appreciate it being taken down. He left for a few minutes, and upon his return let me know that it might take a minute but that it would come down.
I thanked him, and went back to my table. When I got there (within eyeshot of the sign) I asked a friend to take the above picture and set my alarm to 10 minutes. That's how long I was willing to give them before I would go speak to another manager. 10 minutes came and went, and I went in search of another manager, hoping to expedite the process. Walking up to the bar, I was greeted by another manager, to whom I explained my issue. At this point I was on the verge of tears, having just explained to my friends exactly why I was so upset. His response? Condescension. He asked my name, I told him.
He introduced himself and shook my hand. He then proceeded to tell me the sign was a joke, and that it rotates different things all the time. When I told him it was in extremely poor taste and that I'd appreciate it being taken down, he told me to calm down, and that if I hadn't been so "aggressive" the conversation would go better.
Please keep in mind, during this conversation I was apologizing for being as emotional as I was, and emphasizing that I wasn't trying to attack him, just the idea that domestic violence is a joke. Had I been a man, I somehow doubt he would have been okay telling me to calm down. He told me the sign would be taken down but that I should be patient.
My first reaction was to tell him that no one should ever be patient for domestic violence to stop, but I was too upset and knew that I shouldn't get started at the bar. At this point I'd had enough. I went back to my friends, tearfully told my friend to give me her keys to get my things from her apartment, and began to walk away. When she asked me what happened we were outside of the bar (not on their property, on a public sidewalk), where I loudly exclaimed that I refuse to give a bar that is willing to make fun of domestic violence my money. I collected my things and returned in my car to give back the keys, and attempted to reenter the establishment to give friends a hug before leaving, when I was told that I was to be REFUSED ADMITTANCE. I asked why and was given no explanation. Turns out while I was gone another friend of mine read the riot act to two more bouncers and a manger, and the sign was removed. It is deeply disturbing to me still that it took that much; that the management at this place was so unfeeling toward a huge issue to a great number of people. I have never been prouder to be denied admittance to a bar, and I will never return.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, acquaintances, strangers: please know this: if you are a victim of domestic violence, it is not a joke. Never feel marginalized or forgotten. There are people who love you, and care for you, and would do anything to make sure that you never have to suffer through it again. Below I've listed some of the resources in Dallas where you can receive help. Friends: it'd mean a lot of you could avoid Scruffy Duffies. Any establishment willing to support the continuance of domestic violence does not deserve your money.
Williams's post was shared on Facebook more than 2,000 times. From there, local media ran with the story, turning the bar's "joke" in to a major PR crisis for them. On Monday, the venue responded to the controversy via a message on their Facebook page:
It has come to our attention that one of our female employees wrote something offensive without owner's approval. Domestic violence is something our family unfortunately has overcome in the past, therefore this subject is one we don't take lightly. We are currently investigating the situation and proper actions will be taken immediately. We thank you for your patience and again want to ensure this is not our stance.
However, it should be pointed out that this very carefully worded response comes after the bar's owners posted a now-deleted message to Facebook asking people "if you come across this on the Internet, I would appreciate you having our back." Great to see a local business actually encouraging people to tear each other apart on social media.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the general manager of Scruffy Duffies was fired in the wake of incident. Brian Harder, the president of Harder Concepts (the parent company which owns Scruffy Duffies), released this statement on Tuesday:
This was an isolated event executed by an employee that made a bad decision followed by a manager that did not recognize and fix the problem. Obviously not everybody's sense of humor is the same. My brother and I are the owners at Scruffy Duffie's and we agree that it was very distasteful and offensive. Had we been aware or seen this post we would've immediately taken it down. We apologize to anybody who was offended. We did investigate this issue further and our general manager has since been fired. In our eyes it was his responsibility to recognize and not allow something of this matter to take place in our stores. We will ensure that something like this will never happen again.
This far from the first time this has happened either. As recently as April, a bar in Philadelphia put the exact same joke on sign outside their establishment. That joke also resulted in the firing of the employee responsible. As Eater points out, there's been lots of times when this dumb joke has resulted in collective community outrage followed by someone getting fired:
The sheer number of institutions that have posted the tasteless "joke" is saddening: A bar in Austin, a bistro in Houston, and bars in Philadelphia and Montreal have all posted iterations of the analogy.
OK. Straight talk time, bar employees and owners of the world: This is a dumb fucking joke. You need to stop making it. Yeah, maybe the dozen or so regulars at your establishment will get a good chuckle out of it ("hurr hurr, Tommy, good one") but guess what? There are better jokes to make, ones that won't offend a good segment of your customer base. There is never ever going to be a time where you can make this joke and it won't result in your bar being the target of a lot of outrage on behalf of people who don't think this is a funny subject to joke about. You can do better. Take a lesson from people who really know what they're doing.
Image via Courtney Williams Facebook.