In today’s polarized world, an incident were a restaurant owner in America exercised her legal right to ask a diner whose actions were deemed wrong in her job was asked to leave the establishment while she and her guests were working through their appetizers and had not yet been served the main course.
Under the law, a restaurant owner can refuse service to someone as long as that refusal is not based on racial or other bigotry.
Stephanie Wilkinson, co-owner of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va found out White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dining at there and became concerned that the spokesman for Donald Trump, among other things, professed homophobic positions against gays and some members of the establishment were gay and offended by such positions.
So Wilkinson took Sanders aside and said she needed to leave Red Hen.
“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation. I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave,’ ” Wilkinson told The Washington Post.
“They offered to pay,” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’ ”
Sanders did, along with the seven others in the party.
The next morning, however, Sanders did what her boss, Trump, often does when he’s pissed. She tweeted:
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.
Over the weekend, more than 206 thousand Twitter followers added comments.
On Monday morning, Trump jumped into the fray, with this tweet:
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
A Lexington resident brought flowers to the restaurant with a sign that said: “Democracy requires principled government. Thank you Red Hen.”
On the other side, Stephen Russek of nearby Natural Bridge said: “I’m not crazy about everything Donald Trump does, but what they they did in this restaurant is disgraceful.”
Red Hen did not open its doors for its planned Saturday night hours. Emails to those with reservations said: “We would like to avoid exposing our patrons to any potential unpleasantness from outside entities.”
On social media, Trump fans urged carpet bomb the restaurant’s phone line with fake reservations.
As happens so often in today’s contentious society, nastiness erupted.
On Monday, The Washington Post, an avid critic of Trump and his administration, editorialized “Let the Trump team east in peace.”
“Down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service,” the editorial concluded. “That benefits no one.”
As one is often finds fault with the hyperbole that emerges from Trump’s mouth like verbal diarrhea, I also feel there is a time and place to express one’s dissatisfaction with elected officials and those who choose to work for them or support their actions.
I also can understand the anger that Ms. Wilkinson felt towards Ms. Sander’s choice of occupation and her beliefs but, again, the group was eating quietly in a public place and, according to reports, not espousing any rapid positions of the Trump administration.
This is something that should not have happened in America. The response by Sanders and Trump showed Wilkinson’s opinions about the character of both were valid but letting them eat and leave without incident would have been the better response.
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