The Gaslamp Responds to Allegations of Racist Door Policy
With the soothing soundtrack of Charles Atlas’s “Photosphere” in the background, Gaslamp representative, attorney Tim Sutherland, released a video titled “The Statement” today, in which he responds to allegations of a racist door policy made by Brandon Ball and friends last week.
“The Gaslamp has a door policy that is race-blind,” he says before launching into an almost seven-minute-long, self-contradictory ramble, which, more than anything else, sounds like a call to action to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will be contested in the upcoming election.
The fact is that federal discrimination law doesn’t cover nightclubs. You need a local ordinance or a state law that will stop it and give people a way to make a claim — like every other big city in the United States.
The public assumes that there’s some magical overlap between what is morally wrong and what is illegal. So, for those of you who are outraged, I say there is something that you can do, because it’s not illegal until you, the voter, make it illegal. Do your job, get educated, and make it so there’s common ground between your beliefs and the world you live in.
When Sutherland states that “The public assumes that there’s some magical overlap between what is morally wrong and what is illegal,” while repeating that the Gaslamp did nothing illegal, is he admitting that they are “morally wrong?”
Later in the video, after saying that the Gaslamp will post their dress code and cover-charge policy where patrons can see it, he adds:
[A]n unposted dress code, or the specific circumstances under which a cover charge applies, can blur the lines as to whether someone is being mistreated due to their race or just because we’re a bunch of assholes. We prefer it to be the latter. We are not going to let there be any confusion going forward.
So apparently they are immoral assholes who want voters to support HERO.
Another telling passage was this bit:
We do not allow our customers to dictate the terms of who we let in and who we do not. We know that people are going to complain. We know that they’re going to go on Yelp. We are not willing to be a business that is too timid to speak, that is too eager to accommodate for fear of offending someone, and too willing to throw out our private property rights and our freedom of association so that everyone has it their way. We are willing to hurt your feelings by telling you that you don’t fit the dress code. We will tell you that you need some girls and this isn’t ‘bro’s night out,’ because we don’t want you creeping out the girls that we already have inside. We will tell you that you’re too cheap for our nightclub, if you don’t want to pay a cover, because we know that if you won’t pay a cover, you’re probably not going to buy any drinks.
At the Gaslamp, the customer is not always right — and that’s fine. I actually do admire that. I agree that not every space or place of business needs to be for everybody, that “discrimination” can also refer to “discriminating taste,” that when we try to please everybody, we often end up with watered down pablum that appeals only to the lowest common denominator. I respect chefs, for example, who invite you to eat the food they have prepared in the way they feel is best and refuse to make substitutions that they find repulsive.
The thing that stands out to me in this passage, though, is the appeal to property rights. Something about it…I don’t know…maybe it’s just because that’s the same argument that was made by slave owners and slave states before the Civil War, or by polluters who don’t care about how their actions might affect people downstream from them, etc. It’s an argument often made by people who don’t want to admit that “no man is an island” and that we live in communities, and we want our communities to reflect our values.
Sutherland says something similar in this strange, rambling video that reads like an ad in support of HERO.
“Do your job, get educated, and make it so there’s common ground between your beliefs and the world you live in.”