Ethics Observations On The Red Hen

Believe it or not, I had not heard about a Lexington, Virginia restaurant kicking out Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family who were there to enjoy a meal when I wrote, a couple of hours ago, in part…

The virtue signaling fad is officially dangerous… since sanctuary cities are applauded for defying law enforcement, and more and more private establishments are basing their service on the political view of potential customers…This will spread, and we will have a completely dysfunctional society if and when it does. It is the natural progression of the divisive strategies and rhetoric employed by “the resistance” and the news media, and is undiluted cultural poison.

Here’s the story: Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the bucolic rural Virginia restaurant, was called at home and told the President’s spokeswoman was dining there with a group. Asked what the staff should do, she somehow couldn’t think of the correct and ethical answer, which is “Give her and her group the same hospitality and excellent service we strive to give all our customers. We don’t discriminate.” Instead, she drove to the establishment and told Sanders to leave. Sanders 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.”

For her part, the owner told the Washington Post that she would do it again, because “there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”

Sanders is right, and Hutchinson is despicable, un-American, unethical, and wrong.

Other notes:

  • Ex-Office of Government Ethics head Walter Shaub, an anti-Trumpist who misses no opportunity to attack the administration, tweeted out his assessment that Sanders violated ethics rules by criticizing a private business using her official account. He’s right. She should have let one of the others in the group tell the tale. Just as she couldn’t make an official assertion that the food at the Red Hen stinks, can’t point out that the owner is a divisive, biased, asshole who should be put out of business.

That doesn’t mean that Sanders wasn’t 100% right.

  • This follows on the heels of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen being harassed at a D.C. restaurant by protesters as the owner approved. As I said, this is a nasty and dangerous escalation of anti-Trump aggression by the Left, and it is playing with fire. If anyone can point to a single instance, ever, anywhere, of  a conservative restaurant owner refusing to serve a member of the Obama, Clinton or Carter administration, please send me the link. The truth is, there never has been such an incident, because in the United States, we do not wage war against citizens and officials because we disagree with their opinions, positions or policies.

The “resistance” has now crossed that line, and rather than condemning it, a lot of Democrats are rationalizing the indefensible conduct. The nation either punishes this, or it accepts it as a new norm that marks the death knell of civil society.

  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D, Cal.) and other member of Congress defended the attack on Neilson. She is a breed of progressive that believes in demonizing and mistreating adversaries, and rationalizing hate.

These are arrogant, hateful, unethical, oppressive and doctrinaire people, and they should be feared.

  • The treatment of Sarah Huckabee as symbolic voodoo doll for her boss is also unprecedented, and also indefensible as politics, as humor, or humanity.

The disgusting manner in which Democrats the reporters lined up to defend the personal and cruel attacks on Huckabee at the White Correspondents Association Dinner sanctified the abuse by The Red Hen.

The defense of such disgraceful conduct by liberals is itself shocking. Presumably Rep. Speier and others would be put out if they were denied service due to their political beliefs…

I have been highly critical of Trump and his Administration. However, I find this action to be incredibly offensive and wrongheaded. I would feel that same if Rep. Speier were chased from a restaurant by a conservative owner. Once again, we seem to have lost any sense of restraint and civility in our politics. Extremists on both sides claim license to say and do most anything vis-a-vis their opponents. There is a sense of utter release in these actions — the right to act in the most monstrous or menacing ways because you believe that you are right and they are wrong. You can denounce Trump for petty and childish attacks and then engage in the very same conduct in response. And so it continues on and on and on. It is the impunity of action that comes with being right.

I would not go to the Red Hen any more than I would go to a restaurant that refused to serve Rep. Speier. It is simple matter of courtesy and civility.

Turley is engaging in a bit of false equivalence here. There are no reports of prominent Democrats being refused service. This is a one-sided escalation in partisan hate tactics, and the professor should have the integrity to say so.

Finally, let again make a pitch for the duty to confront here.  Those who sat by and allowed Sanders and Neilson to be treated this way are complicit, just as they would be if they tolerated an act of bigotry against a black diner or a gay couple. Don’t let people abuse others in your presence—and this was abuse. Speak up. Provide support.

Stand up for decency.

36 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Red Hen

  1. I do not get it, your a restaurant serve food and protect your guests as customers are referred to in the restaurant business! I back in my waiting days served Jesse Helms and Nancy Pelopsi the same week, as a gay republican I have personal feelings towards each. But my opinions were not my job. Nowadays my opinions are my job, different world.

  2. What the owner of this restaurant did was to give license to all bakers and photographers a rationale to discriminate against the lgbtq community based on the rationalization that it is not because they are lgbt but because they are assumed to be leftists. Obviously, the argument is specious but they only need to deny service to others that wear symbols they disagree with politically. The resistance is adding water to the slippery slope.

    It makes no difference whether the underlying motivation for prejudice is based on ideology, skin tone or any other factor marginalizing someone in business transactions is just wrong and hateful.

  3. The owner claims that refusing service is “living one’s convictions”. As a convicted person person of conviction (I’m still looking for an adjective for that; the other three types of benevolence have good adjectives), I take strong issue with her use of the word. That’s not how conviction works.

    I’m fairly certain she knows that her gesture doesn’t actually accomplish anything towards what she thinks she stands for, if she can even define what her convictions are. Refusing to do business with political or ideological rivals causes harm for no benefit. That’s not conviction; it’s merely stupid and vindictive.

    Conviction requires that you put focused and continuous effort into achieving an ideal. Shunning and harassing people who represent a different ideal takes minimal effort and achieves nothing.

    The most charitable thing I could say about it is that it could be considered “supportive” (which is the complementary virtue of conviction, the same way honor and compassion are complementary), but I hesitate lest I cheapen the word. Supportiveness takes effort as well, to seize opportunities and maneuver around challenges. It usually also entails kindness. Refusing to serve a civilized person is just cheap virtue-signalling by way of ostracism, and that never ends well.

  4. I tried your challenge and came up short. I came up with two minor things involving Obama. One was at a voting booth which involved a weird exchange with a man and his wife (but no one was refused service). I’m sure there are a lot of these weird stories out there.

    The second was this story

    He wasn’t denied service. Secret Service called and was told it was closed the days they wanted. Apparently they hung up quickly, because the owner claims he would have opened for the President. The whole thing blew up in their face all because they were not given a change to talk about it.

    Then there was this interesting article:

    • That was an interesting article, especially the part about how some people thought the office of the President should be respected even if one doesn’t like the man in office and how the writer made sure to point out that those persons tended to be largely Democrat.

      How quickly attitudes have changed in the last 20 years.

  5. There was this restaurant, Dogz, which I used yo frequent, until some idiot driving a delivery truck struck a fire hydrant back in Febryaey of 2017.

    Then, just two weeks before it reopened, the interior of Fogz was gutted by an arson fire.

    After reading this story, I wish those arsonists had burned down the Red Hen instead of Dogz.

  6. The intolerance shown by people on both sides is demoralizing and would have been to my German immigrant grandmother who came to San Francisco in 1907. She had many rules to live by and here are 2 that would be useful in addressing such bad behavior:
    1. If you look for the good in people, you will find it and if you look for the bad in people, you will find it. So look for the good and you won’t be disappointed.
    2. If you continue to stir up shit, it will only smell worse; so leave it be. (This sounds much better in German)
    I can’t resist relaying a third rule which really annoys my California foodie friends: Kale is pigs food in Germany and not fit for human consumption.
    I also want to add this fundamental educational problem:
    Being taught to avoid discussing politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding about politics and religion. What we should have been taught is how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.

      • I agree, it’s vague as to what sort of business we should stay out of. It might make for a good rule of thumb if nothing serious is at stake, but rules of thumb are dangerous with humans who don’t know where they end.

        I concur wholeheartedly with learning to discuss politics and religion. Without having their ideas challenged, people learn they don’t have to think too hard about them and they get complacent.

    • I wonder how many of those backing the owner of the Red Hen would have forced Masterpiece Cake Shop to bake the cake.

      In the run-up to the oral arguments, they used the #OpenToAll hashtag and
      launched a campaign, backed by many celebrity chefs and bakers, including stars of Top Chef and Masterchef, among others.

      I wonder if those stars will condemn the owner of Red Hen.

      Their silence to date shows they never meant #OpenToAll.

  7. > Sarah, I know you don’t care even a tiny little bit about the ethics rules, but using your official account for this is a clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a). It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out.

    Huckabee was denied service precisely because of her government position.

    In a related recent event, ICE tweeted or issues a press release saying that journalist Talia Levin owed one of their employees an apology after she irresponsibly passed along rumors based on a partial photo of an elbow tattoo that the employee was a white supremacist or nazi.

    Was ICE also unethical for defending their employee? If not, how does their handling differ from Huckabees?

    And I don’t know if this matters or not, but the ATF agent is an authority figure in a department that can bring a ton of heat down on a restaurant’s alcohol license. Huckabee has no control over them.

    So I can absolutely understand why the “we go high route” is to ignore the behavior. The slightly less high route is to get a friend to tweet it out. I am not sure it is really unethical behavior though for a tweet that says: Yes, this did happen and not a whole lot more.

    • Shaub:

      > Sanders used her official govt account to condemn a private business for personal reasons. Seeks to coerce business by using her office to get public to pressure it. Violates endorsements ban too, which has an obvious corollary for discouraging patronage. Misuse reg covers both.

      Sanders tweet actually did NONE of that. Some of that may be a reasonable interpretation of her tweet, but other facially and with other completely reasonable interpretations of her tweet, NONE of what Shaub wrote occurred.


      > 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

    • Ash, where does Maxine Waters comments in her capacity of a Congresswoman in which she suggests people need to be harassed at restaurants until they stop supporting Trump.

      Is it only an ethics breach or CFR violation if the employee writes the words and publishes them using a free social media platform? What if a reporter asks her about the incident in her role as the Trump spokesperson and she gave 5he same comment? Would that comment violate the rules.

      Let me suggest that she was merely recounting an episode, in which she had personal knowlege, of a shop keeper violating public accomodation law and how she reacted in a civil manner as a lesson for others who encounter intolerant political bigots in daily life.

      • Actually, I am not sure where Ash is on this because the two comments seem to be at odds with each other. Maybe I am not reading them correctly.

        • My point of view is that obviously gov’t employees shouldn’t abuse their position, but that I am not sure that speech that confirms an incident occurred, or even defending an employee or oneself is an abuse of a position.

          You can apply that to what Waters said, and figure out my position.

          • I suspect if Huckabee Sanders had said “a restaurant that shall remain nameless” it would have worked just as well, even if people didn’t figure it out, which they probably would have. The restaurant would likely have bragged about it.

        • Not entirely sure there’s a violation, here. All she did was report a fact. She did not place any blame nor call for any action. However, I’m not a lawyer.

  8. Sooo, the left thinks the Red Hen is somehow heroic for tossing Sarah Sanders out after having taking her reservation and put her meal in, since the owner was “living her conviction.” Yet Jack Philips was dragged to the brink of personal destruction for “living his conviction” by refusing service to two gay guys looking for a wedding cake. How do you on the left reconcile these? Oh that’s right, you don’t. I said it before and I say it again, if not for double standards the left would have no standards at all.

    I guess all restaurant reservations henceforth must run as follows:
    (Ring Ring) Caller: Hello, I’d like to make a reservation under the name of Sanders (or Pence, or Trump)
    Clerk: Ummmmm, ok..
    Caller: Actually, it’s for me and my family, we’re just regular folks, but I needed to make sure you weren’t a horse’s ass first.

    Yup, you heard me right, Stephanie Wilkinson is a horse’s ass, and I’d be glad to call her up and tell her as much but she disconnected her phone and has apparently shuttered the restaurant following this little virtue-signaling incident.

    I was in Lexington last September for a day. But for the fact that it is home to Washington and Lee University (I wonder how long that name is going to last) I am sure it would be decidedly conservative, especially as the home of VMI (where they carefully now salute the flag, NOT the statue of Stonewall Jackson, who’s buried within walking distance). But, because the town is skewed by all these college professors who never saw a flag they didn’t like except the Confederate flag and the Stars and stripes and the latest crop of 18-22 yos who are paying them more a year than a lot of working people make to turn them back into toddlers, ol’ Stonewall’s tomb was guarded discreetly when I went to pay my respects, and the crypt of Robert E. Lee was not decked out with any Confederate flags. Like many of the other towns in the Old Dominion, it’s the kind of place where an espresso bar might be across the street from a gun shop or a yoga studio next door to a BBQ joint. I thought the two cultures might at least try to get along when it comes to eating, drinking, and non-political activity, but apparently, not so.

    I’m fed up at this point. I don’t see any reason why we on the right shouldn’t follow suit and start denying service to those who don’t pass our own political litmus tests. Let’s see how the toffee-nosed city liberals do when they can’t get a meal or a place to stay outside of the big liberal cities (and not all big cities are liberal). Let’s see what happens when they see the signs on the doors that say “We’re proud patriotic Americans and Trump supporters here. If you are not, I suggest you either keep it to yourself or find another place to shop.” Let’s see what happens when Elizabeth Warren can’t go anywhere without people making fake Indian war cries at her. This is where we are headed.

    • What big cities are NOT liberal? Do they still vote blue?

      I don’t see any reason why we on the right shouldn’t follow suit and start denying service to those who don’t pass our own political litmus tests.

      If this becomes just a bit more common, you can bet on it.

      • Savannah has a Republican mayor. Indianapolis is another. San Diego. There are admittedly not very many, since big cities tend to be filled with millennials, the moocher class, and big labor, but there are some. What are you going to do on a road trip between Ohio and Chicago, where you will almost certainly have to stop for a meal or for the night in ruby-red Indiana? How about in PA, where there is nothing liberal outside Philly and Pittsburgh and five hours between them? For that matter what about Illinois, where Chicago is it for liberal places? Not all officials have the reach, the prestige, or the influence of the President, and I’d have no problem telling some liberal further down the food chain to go to hell, I will not rent him a room, I will not serve him a meal, I will not put gas in his car, I will not sell him anything, his money’s no good in my establishment. What’s more, if I were the local mayor, I’d direct my cops not to provide any security, and if he gets into a problem, that’s his damn problem. Let’s see how some open-borders Dimocrap campaigns for my opponent with his jaw broken and wouldn’t you know, nobody saw a damn thing. Let’s see him get back where he came from with his car burned out because my firemen were otherwise occupied. Let him sue, no jury will see it his way. I dunno about disappearing him, though, that might put a little too much spotlight on my town. On the other hand, in Tennessee they still sing about the two strangers who climbed up Ol’ Rocky Top looking for the rumored local moonshiners. They still haven’t come back down, I reckon they never will come back down, and no mo’ strangers come lookin fo’ them…ah guess whoever sent ’em figgered no sinse in sendin’ undisappeared men after disappeared.

        • Strangely enough, after I wrote the above I got an unsolicited text (from an Austin number, of course) I found the person identifying as Boris to be funny (can you get a more stereotypically communist identifiable name?), so I engaged:

          Boris:”Hi [Slick], this is Boris volunteering w/ Beto for Texas. Beto O’Rourke is running a grassroots campaign for Senate with a focus on getting corporations, PACS, and special interests out of Congress and putting democracy back into the hands of the people. Can we count on your vote?”

          [ I have to comment here on the total hypocrisy of a Democrat running on any of the things touted in that text. In Texas. Democrats (and the Establishment GOP) have been all about taking democracy out of the hands of the people]

          Slick: Beto a Democrat?

          [Notice he did not specify? I also wondered if a real person would respond]

          Boris: […and where IS Sasha these days?] Yes, Beto is a Democrat
          Boris: Beto O’Rourke is a candidate running for Senate in 2018. He represents Texas in the US House of Representatives. You can read more about him… Have you considered who you’ll vote for?”

          Slick: “Sorry, the way Democrats have acted the past 18 months I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone associated with that party. Res ipsa loquitur”

          [This response is much more polite than several drafts that went through my mind, one of which involved my lack of willingness to urinate on a Democrat politician who was the victim of spontaneous human combustion.
          Boris was game, though]

          Boris:”Okay, we’ll mark that down now. Have a great day!”

          Slick:”You as well”

          I had a moment of vague unease at the ‘mark it down’ comment, as they have my cell number and my real name… and likely a lot more.

          Should have stuck to my policy of blacklisting the number on my phone and not responding!

    • Is it just coincidence that all of these incidents involved only women? I’m laying odds with a fence-sitting liberal friend of mine that, like the hen owner of the restaurant, the majority of the verbal attacks, such as that on Pam Bondi, is coming from females …. their form of being “woke” Feminists. And cowards all, with their husbands cowering yet further behind them.

  9. The Red Hen is less than two miles away from my law school (Washington and Lee School of Law). My wife and I always were planning to go there, but never got around to it. Now, I’m glad we never spent our money there.

  10. That shit-brained Red Hen owner ought to suffer a mob that occupies the restaurant, takes over the kitchen (and actually cooks good meals in it!), and posts signs outside that say things like “FUCK THE LEFT!,” “Just like the Little Red Hen, we’ll produce our desired restaurant experience OURSELVES!,” and “Police and Other First Responders Eat Free.”

  11. Everything should be pointing towards “The Sky Is Falling! for The Red Hen and those that support their hateful bigotry; but of course, there will be those that are completely consumed by their anti-Trump hate that will choose this as another one of their emotional hills to die on.


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