OPINION | Barry Richard: Political Views Should Be Protected Speech
A New York judge says you can be booted from a bar for your political views.
The New York Post says a Philadelphia man was kicked out of a West Village bar in January of 2017 because of his support for newly sworn-in President Donald Trump. Greg Piatek, 31, says he was wearing a red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap, and was told by management that he best skedaddle.
“Anyone who supports Trump — or believes in what you believe — is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you,” is what Piatek said he was told. The Post says Piatek claims he was served a drink, and when he complained about the bar's lousy service he was told to leave.
The judge ruled that only religious, and not political, beliefs are protected in such cases, and she tossed the case.
It seems the whole thing was nothing more than a publicity stunt though as the Post says Jon Neidich, the owner of The Happiest Hour on W. 10th Street, was able to produce a copy of Piatek's receipt from that day, which was for $186 dollars, plus a voluntary 20 percent tip.
While entertaining, the story is important in that at least in New York you can be excluded because of your political beliefs. A bar can enforce a dress code of its choosing. That apparently not only includes jeans and ratty clothing, but apparently apparel that supports a particular political ideal.
Can a bar allow someone with a Bernie Bro hat to stay, yet ask someone with a MAGA hat to leave? Or vice versa? Is that fair? Do you believe it would withstand a Constitutional challenge?
Should this be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court? I would love to hear the debate on this one. Political views should be protected free speech anywhere.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.