If you plan to visit New York City, there are several rules to follow: don’t stop to check your cell phone when you get to the top of the subway stairs; crosswalk lights are really just suggestions; and never under any circumstances walk into a bar and flaunt that you’re a Trump supporter — because you can be legally thrown out.
A Philadelphia tourist, Greg Piatek, sued The Happiest Hour, a Manhattan bar, for not allowing him and his friends to drink. This contradicts the bar’s credit card records that show Piatek and friends rang up a substantial bar bill and left a 20% tip.
Whether or not he had a sip of what he bought, he alleged that he was badgered and wasn’t served because he was expressing his political beliefs by wearing the well-known Trump Campaign’s “Make America Great Again” hat. That sounds like discrimination, whether you support his views or not.
Discrimination laws don’t protect the expression of political beliefs in business settings like bars, which most of us should find shocking since we all walk into bars with a wheelbarrow full of them. What is on the law books is that a person can’t be mistreated, denied service, ejected or badgered based on religious beliefs. So, pulling out something from where the sun don’t shine, Piatek’s lawyer stated that his client was wearing the hat because he was visiting the 9/11 memorial; hence, the hat was worn for kinda spiritual-religious reasons. That’s all. It wasn’t a statement of support of Trump.
For the defense, The Happiest Hours’ lawyer argued that “Supporting Trump is not a religion, whether you believe it very sincerely, it’s not.” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen agreed and conveyed that there is no reason why a third party, such as a bar operator and staff, would know that a MAGA hat was a religious statement. And, ruling in favor of the defense, explained that refusing to serve anyone — as long as they aren’t discriminating based on race, color, religion or national origin — is legal because political opinion is not protected in private businesses in New York City (or most places in the country).
THIS DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT
Everything about this seems weird: A Trump religion, limitations on freedom of speech … but — hang on for a moment — it starts to fall into place when you wrap your head around the fact that one of the biggest mysteries of the universe is why Newtonian and Quantum physics are both wrong and both right. The gap between these two forms of solid logic is like the gap in America’s freedom of speech laws.
Quantum theories are the explanation of little things: atoms, quarks, particle waves — for our purposes a little bar in Greenwich Village. In that little world, it seems like any opinion should be supported in the safe haven of a bar.
Newtonian theories, though, are the explanation of big things, and in that scenario allowing political discrimination makes sense. Think of the NRA and MSNBC as big, as in Newtonian. If MSNBC were forced by law to run NRA commercials, rather than politely tell the NRA that they are not a welcome customer because of their politics, the news channel’s brand would be destroyed, they would go broke and Lawrence O’Donnell would have no way to remind us that he was a writer on The West Wing.
Okay, that might frame it — like the universe itself, there is an incomprehensible disconnect even when it comes to free speech in bars and big business. Neither nature nor the constitution makes this easy for us to figure out.
So let’s make it easy. Based on the evidence that’s been reported, a tourist from Philadelphia wearing a MAGA hat rings up a hefty bar bill, claims he and his friends weren’t served, then presents himself as a law manipulating hypocrite willing to exploit religion and a terrorist attack just so he can sue a business that happens to be in a predominantly gay and racially diverse neighborhood. Whatever his hat says, he’s a plain and simple assclown. So kick him out, bar manager. And kick out the one in the White House while you’re at it.