Virtue-Signaling Gone Wrong: The Hilda and Jesse Debacle

Hilda and Jesse

In a classic of ethics duncery, Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton, co-owners of popular San Francisco restaurant Hilda and Jesse, assumed last week that they could profitably engage in blatant anti-police bigotry and firearm phobia in San Francisco, which long, long ago abandoned common sense and logic for the outer frontiers of progressive mania. By the end of the week, it was clear that the Old Knight had a bead on the situation…

They began by kicking San Francisco police officers out of their restaurant. Here’s their explanation, posted on social media:

H and J annpouncement

The statement is moronic and unethical on its face, for it is transparently hypocritical, bigoted and insincere. The owners cannot simultaneously “respect” and be “grateful” for the work the police do while maintaining that they are not welcome in their establishment unless they abandon the tools they need to do that work, and the uniforms their job requires them to wear while they do it. Nor does it make sense to announce that the public servants whose job it is to keep the pubic safe make the restaurant’s owners and staff feel unsafe, yet still maintain that the owners appreciate their role.

It is obvious what was going on here: Sillcocks and Compton were pandering to Black Lives Matter anti-police bigotry while simultaneously insisting that they were not. Silcock’s “clarifying” follow-up tweet when the coverage of their offensive conduct turned negative was even more damning…

Hilda and Jess 2

(Incidentally, Ethics Alarms will henceforth presume that anyone who appends their preferred pronouns to their name under any circumstances is an unthinking woke mob-following dolt who would jump out of a window if Progressive High Command said to.)

Now we know that the restaurant’s owners think that police are hostile to gays, blacks and other groups. But of course Rachel and Kristina respect what the police do! Or is the staff uncomfortable because they are running a drug ring, or have a rotting dead waiter stashed behind the dishwasher? I’m uncomfortable around police cars right now because I’m late getting my license plates updated.

Well at least Sillcocks and Compton have the courage of their convictions, regardless of how cretinous and contradictory those principles (or whatever they are) may be. No, actually they don’t. As their eatery’s Yelp score dived to a single star out of five, and they were buried by comments like this…

This is a “safe” space.
One that you can not come to when your job is to keep people safe.
This is a “weapon free” zone.
But they don’t realize everything from the fire extinguisher on the wall to the chef’s knife becomes a weapon.
This establishment is “free of discrimination”, but it refuses to seat/serve certain people.
Since weapons make them uncomfortable they need to turn in their knives to law enforcement  and only cook with spoons. No weapons allowed!
Owners and managers should be ashamed of themselves.  Investors need to pull their money and this place needs to be boycotted.

…the owners began to doubt their marketing strategy.

They may be crazy in San Francisco, but they’re not stupid.

Suddenly, Sillcocks and Compton, within the span of just a few days, decided that they didn’t believe what they had so fervently claimed to believe because it was likely to cost them money, so they issued this “apology”:

hilda-jesse apology

On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, this is a Level 10, “an insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.” The translation is crystal clear: “Oops! We thought insulting and mistreating the police when they are under attack all over the country would be popular, but it looks like we miscalculated. That was obviously a mistake, but it’s all the fault of these ‘stressful times,’ not the fact that we’re bigoted fools. Do over!

If I were a San Francisco crook, I’d strongly consider a hit on Hilda and Jesse as soon as I could work out the details. If I were a law-abiding restaurant-goer, I’d consider that boycott to be still in effect.

And if I were a police officer, I’d be sorely tempted to stay as far away from the restaurant as I could, with all that implies. I certainly would never attempt to dine there again. Presumably the police department’s dedication to protecting businesses and their patrons will not wain when Hilda and Jesse needs police protection, because the officers are professionals. They can be trusted, even though Rachel Sillcocks and Kristina Liedags Compton cannot.


Pointer and Facts: Citizen Free Press

39 thoughts on “Virtue-Signaling Gone Wrong: The Hilda and Jesse Debacle

  1. Weren’t the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s created to make it illegal to exclude groups (blacks, e.g.) from a place of business? This was a landmark set of decisions to protect minorities from prejudiced business owners of all types.

    Does the fact that policemen, armed by virtue of their profession, make them a minority that cannot by law be banned from a public place? What right do these restaurant owners have to pick and choose their clientele? If they want to do this they should form a legal “club:” it would be for assholes only, but then that’s their basic approach. Their specious ‘apology’ is laughable: their initial decision signaled their beliefs and true intentions.

    I just hope the San Francisco virus stays just there; and I will stay out.

    • “Does the fact that policemen, armed by virtue of their profession, make them a minority that cannot by law be banned from a public place?”

      In a word… No.

      The federal protected classes are race, color, religion or creed, national origin or ancestry, sex (including gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, genetic information, and citizenship.

      And the state of California’s classes are race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), disability, age (40 and older), citizenship status, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, AIDS/HIV-positive status, medical conditions, political affiliations or activities, and status as a victim of domestic violence or stalking.

      Whole posts could be written about what is or is not on the list, but the plain language of the law does not include profession.

        • 100% agreed, but the question was “What right do these people have to do this?” and the answer is “a legal one”.

          What might be interesting would be for an anti-vaxxer to make the argument that because the mRNA vaccines work by using a form of gene therapy, vaccinated-unvaccinated disparities in law might be treading the line on genetic discrimination. That’s obviously not what the law originally intended, but I wonder if there’s enough wiggle room in the law to make an argument.

          • That would certainly be an interesting read. It would be a very complex thing to consider and the argument would have to thread a couple needles, so if that was written by a knowledgeable individual, it would definitely be a think-piece worth the read. In the end, I’m sure since it doesn’t specifically call out medical vaccines and the government has continued to require vaccines of all kinds, there’s enough runway to suggest it was never meant and could not possibly cover vaccines; but the nature of mRNA, like you said, definitely gives it a bit of a new spin.

            • mRNA vaccines are relatively new (20 years) and this is the first time governments have tried to mandate them, I don’t think there’s going to be a quick and easy precedent for the government to cite on it.

        • I think that, instead of increasing the list of protected classes, it would be easier to rule that public businesses cannot refuse service for any reason other than “no shirt, no shoes”, or other clearly visible acts of disruption or endangerment on the part of the person in question.

          Or, as I’ve said in the past, we could just get rid of protected classes altogether, and let the public punish businesses stupid enough to discriminate, just like what’s happening here.

          • What you suggest is, at least nominally, why some people objected to the 1964 civil rights legislation. The Jim Crow laws in the south forbade businesses from serving both blacks and whites. The civil rights laws did 2 things, it made those laws illegal and then it imposed additional rules that made it illegal for a business to decide on it’s own to discriminate against certain classes. I personally think doing both was the correct thing, had they not made protected classes I fear many areas would have remained de facto segregated, even more so then they currently are.

            The fact that we remain largely de facto segregated is a failure for our society. Our society has seen multiple waves of large scale immigration handled successfully, although not easily, through eventual assimilation, a process that is currently working with Hispanic immigrants in many areas. However, the specifics as to why this has not worked as well with Black Americans is more complicated.

      • By California state law “a minority that cannot by law be banned from a public place?” includes age (40 and older) ???

        Whoop-dee-do! Me and my friends are gonna have fun this weekend – and maybe take a few policemen along.

    • I wonder if any of the officers that were asked to leave were black…or women…or black women…or gay. Wouldn’t that be a saucy twist?

      Funny thing: if “Hilda and Jesse SF” were to be targeted by some thugs, you can bet the ownership would be grateful to have uniformed – and armed – SFPD officers enjoying lunch in their establishment.

  2. “Presumably the police department’s dedication to protecting businesses and their patrons will not wain when Hilda and Jesse needs police protection, because the officers are professionals.”

    Don’t count on it. All this defund the police nonsense has given the police, especially in far-left places like Frisco, the perfect excuse to slow-walk responses and plausible deniability for doing it. After the death of Eric Garner and the subsequent community anger, the NYPD essentially abandoned the area at the request of the local folks, causing it to fall to crap. If the department has fewer officers and units as it is because their budget’s been cut, then it’s not going to waste them patrolling near and protecting a place where they are disliked and not wanted. Then, if someone gets mugged or the place gets robbed, show up, take a report, and file it, for the detectives to get to when they get to it, which they never will.

    I’ve seen this garbage before, bigotry and hatred disguised as peacefulness and compassion, plus abuse of private business status. The same people who squawk when the Christian baker wants no part of a gay wedding will happily hide behind being a private company when it comes to their prejudices and say things like “anyone is welcome to enjoy our food, just not in a uniform.” The same people who proclaim fear of the police will happily allow their space to be used as an organizing place for vandals and rioters. The same people who will call you racist if you say gang colors can’t be worn in your establishment will strictly ban MAGA attire or conservative slogans. The same people who say their place is a “hate-free, bigotry-free, prejudice-free, weapon-free safe space” will vigorously hate on anyone who doesn’t agree with them, act like bigots, and so on.

    File this under “if not for double standards the left would have no standards at all.”

  3. Whew. The woke campus has graduated wokesters to restaurants now. The constant obsession with being and feeling “safe” all the time is something born of college campuses. Why don’t these people just curl up in a fetal ball and stay in bed or on a campus replete with “safe spaces” for their entire lives and let the rest of us get on with our apparently incredibly fraught lives?

    By the way, the latest slogan in the U.K. is “Say ‘no’ to knives.” People are being knifed to death there due to guns being hard to come by, I suppose. I heard the pathetic and non-sensical “Say ‘no’ to knives” slogan during a soccer match broadcast. I wish the Sheffield United team had been playing. They’re called the “Blades” due to their being from the famed town home to makers of razors and swords and, you know … knives.

    • The “knife” problem started a few years ago in England due to a proliferation of knife murders, especially between gangs, but also at random, in public. Apparently, if you’re serious about killing and you can’t find a gun (or the ammunition to go with it) easily, the next best thing . . . .

      • Right. And “West Side Story,” beloved of the woke and pro-diversity crowd, involves gangs and … knives. “It’s not knives that kill people, it’s people that kill people?” Anyone? Beuhler? Maybe if the crazies manage to outlaw beef, they will move on to outlawing knives?

  4. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and suggest that these people (or their staff) might be crazy and stupid rather than bigoted. Their focus was on the guns, and I’ve noticed that the left has worked themselves into a legitimate phobia of guns. The rhetoric they use seems to indicate that they think guns have some kind of malevolent evil property, like they think the mere presence of a gun will turn otherwise good and intelligent people into murderers.

    While I’m sure many on the left use the “what do you expect? The person had access to a gun” thing as a cheap way to turn any tragedy into a rant on gun control, I also think some number of people have bought into it. I’ve seen posts and letters from people who admit that a gun owner is responsible, takes gun safety seriously, and keeps their fire arm locked away, but still don’t feel comfortable staying in the same house because of the gun. I would not be surprised if the owners or staff of the cafe are among that sort of people, and legitimately panic at the very sight or presence of a gun, no matter how much they claim to trust the person holding it.

    Whether these people should be working with the public or given a nice, safe rubber room with no guns in it is a different question.

    • Great points. Ironically, most beat cops are decked out to look … scary and intimidating. It’s the entire point of the outfit.

  5. I am no expert on police protocols, but my understanding of the way things work around these parts is that police officers are REQUIRED to be armed at all times, including, obviously, while off-duty (that’s what at all times means). Maybe it is different in Frisco (they LOVE it when you call it Frisco). But, if not, the original statement shows just how little they understand law enforcement.


    • Agreed, Jut. That’s how it worked when I was on the job. Agency policy required us to be in possession of an approved weapon 24/7/365 unless we were on actual paid leave. Most officers carried then, too.
      The funny thing about being afraid of uniformed cops with firearms clearly visible is that they really have no idea how many people enter their business every day carrying (legally or illegally) concealed firearms. If they were really afraid of guns and thought seriously about this fact they would become catatonic for sure!

  6. “We hope this will be a teachable moment for us….”

    Wait . . . WHAT?!?

    You HOPE it WILL be a “teachable moment” for . . . . YOURSELF?!?
    Do you REALLY mean to say that haven’t yet learned anything at all from this yet, but you HOPE that you will in the future . . . .?

    Seriously: you’re just throwing nice-sounding words around (“teachable moment”) without any regard for what those words actually mean now.

    Cue Sarah Silverman….
    Nah, forget that. Cue Rush: “Words mean things.”


      • “Teachable moment,” much like “we need to have a conversation about X,” both mean “Sit down and shut up you redneck/cracker/Republican/gun nut/person on the wrong side of history and listen to me explain to you how the cow is going to eat the cabbage henceforth.” Drives me nuts, particularly when used by Our Second Black President.

  7. My juvenile approach to this would be. Allow police officers in their vehicles and on their horses to gather in front of the restaurant to passively block entry with a show of force.

  8. I don’t see what’s wrong with the apology letter. They made a declarative statement that they messed up. They didn’t say they were sorry “if.” They said the teachable moment was for themselves, not somebody else. They expressed gratitude to the people they wronged. As far as these being stressful times, well, they are. And the owners may have been legitimately caught between the obligations of business owners to serve the public and the perfectly believable hypersensitivities of their employees in that locale. I think a little grace on all sides would be warranted.

    • It is insincere, and obviously so. That’s what makes a #10 apology the worst on the scale: it’s deception. The only thing that changed since the acat and the two double-down tweets is that the owners realized that this was going to hurt business. There’s nothing in the apology that suggest that they understand why what the did and wrote was wrong. They just said that it was “a mistake.” It wasn’t a mistake—it was calculated, aggressive, and they defended it in carefully composed tweets. What enlightened the in a couple of days? Obviously the threat of lost business. Did they explain why they implied that police were threats to minorities and gays? Did they say why they suddenly don’t think armed officers make their restaurant “unsafe”? No.

      • I myself am a connoisseur of bad apology letters. Living here in the Washington area, there are certainly many entries to judge in the apology sweepstakes! But you have to admit that there’s a close connection between the very top and the very bottom of your apology scale.

        I have several personal connections in San Francisco even though I haven’t been there in over two years now. Yes, I’m disheartened by what’s going on there, as it’s clearly gotten worse since what I’ve already seen. In all of this, it is perfectly believable that the restaurant faced competing pressures when the officers walked in. Any number of their staff, or patrons for that matter, may have made a stink to the owners. (I myself am temporarily startled when I see officers with weapons show up as ordinary customers to a Starbucks or diner somewhere, until I quickly remember that they are properly serving the public and are as entitled as I am to refreshment.) At the very least the owners probably faced a dilemma in the moment. You and I agree that they chose wrong; what you’re further asserting is that they deliberately chose to brag about it. Maybe, maybe not, but if the staff or customers actually learned something from this, so much to the good. The final letter was effective, straightforward, and a whole lot better than what 99%+ of the public officials around here (or anywhere else in the country) would have come up with. And I think that deserves to be acknowledged rather than made fun of.

        • I agree. I’ve heard a LOT of bad apologies. One from a brother who threatened a lawyer on me because he thought i took money from a parent and was too lazy to call me to find out i had not… his apology was “sorry for my part in our falling out” hahahahah i laughed and have not spoken to him since. i had NO part in it and he knew it. he also attacked me in text another time and the apology was “sorry i was wrong and i shouldn’t have written when i was upset… i’m sorry politics has come between us” No, he was/is a jerk who shoots his mouth off constantly since he got “woke.”

          this apology seemed to say “we made a mistake”, “we hope we learn from it” (that’s true as people often say they do and don’t) and i think it was honest, to the point and didn’t say “we’re sorry the police were offended” or any of that stuff.

          i did not read any tweets and i’m sure losing business which i’m sure they thought they were making better by doing this, made them rethink… and consequences are a great time to rethink our actions no?

          I mean c’mon… hardly any of us learns before we have a consequence, even if the consequence is guilt.

          I would believe them and talk to them to make sure it wasn’t just B.S. to cover their ass. Plus, I would point out how dangerous being in a echo chamber is. I’m sure they had customers and friends telling them how great their stupid idea was… hahahah.

          Jack, what would a good apology have contained or have in it if you used their writing and aded to it? I’d love to learn what would be a right apology and a 1 or 2 on your scale. Can you reword it and educate us?

          My attempt would have been,

          “We are very sorry that we asked our police officers to leave. We believed them having guns in our place was not a good thing. We have been very concerned with the climate of our city and all that’s happening and believed that customers who were uncomfortable with their presence was something we needed to address.

          We strive to make our customers have a great experience coming here so we made the choice to ask them to leave, believing it was a good thing for our customers.

          well we were very wrong. Our customers and community spoke up quickly and loudly and point3d out how wrong we were. sadly, we realized that we’ve not been listening to all our customers, but only some and after a lot of soul searching, we realize it is not our job to play mommy and daddy and monitor adults. If someone is acting in the law and others are uncomfortable, we realize now that it’s not our job to ease t heir feelings, that is on them.

          We blew it big time and maybe have harmed our business so badly no one will come here. In a way I don’t blame them. We really blew it! We are here for a service to the community for anyone who wants to come in our doors and for all who do who are not doing anything illegal.

          Again, we missed it big time, and ask for forgiveness and completely understand if some people won’t. We fell prey to the co-dependent narrative that we must make safe places for everyone. We can’t. It’s not our job.

          We are so very sorry, and hope you will in time, give us another try. Without customers of all kinds, we can’t exist. If people don’t find it safe that we welcome our civil servants, they can dine elsewhere.

          We are very sorry.”

          And i’d mean it… and part of it would be a business choice because being that stupid effected my livelihood. And i’d also mean it. Listening to idiots is not ever good.

          So, was my apology ok? and how could theirs be better?

        • I would say it’s a 6 or 7 apology, I don’t think it “deceives victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.” since it seems clear they care more about the bottom line than their convictions, hence they can be trusted in the future to not eject people for reasons the public would object to.

          That being said, it’s still a slightly deceitful apology. Like Dwayne indicated above, “Hope this will be a teachable moment” is weasel wording. A more honest apology, under the circumstances, would be something like: “We misread the community, and allowed our own biases to overcome good business sense. We’ve learned that NO one should be told: ‘We don’t serve your kind here.’ Going forward, we will focus on giving all our customers the best service possible, and not on playing politics.”

  9. In Oakland, Across the Bay, in 2018 the worker-owned Hasta Muerte (“Until Death”) cafe did the same thing. The difference is they did not back down and posted the following on Instagram:

    “We know in our experience working on campaigns against police brutality that we are not alone saying that police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety…[Oakland Police Department’s] recent attempts to enlist officers of color and its short term touting of fewer officer involved shootings does not reverse or mend its history of corruption, mismanagement, and scandal, nor a legacy of blatant repression.

    The facts are that [people of color], women, and queer police are complicit in upholding the same law and order that routinely criminalizes and terrorizes black and brown and poor folks, especially youth, trans, and houseless folks.

    For these reasons and so many more, we need the support of the actual community to keep this place safe, not police.”

    As far as I can tell they are still in business.

  10. This is what happens when you cave to the woke mob. If your employees don’t want to serve cops, they can work somewhere else. When cops are eating, they really don’t want to do any police work anyway, so by the employee’s own logic, they would have “less to fear” while the cops ate than if they encountered the cops on the street.

  11. >>>Three armed and uniformed San Francisco police

    Reading that, did it strike anyone that it sounded like they were describing desperate criminals — rather than police officers?

    And…….would they prefer to have armed, undercover officers? Armed (concealed) ordinary diners? Actual desperate armed criminals? How about Bernie Madoff? Just where on the spectrum do uniformed officers fall?

  12. Hilda and Jesse are obviously bigots acting on their true beliefs and their non-apology after the public backlash for their irrational bigoted actions was nonsense.

    I do disagree about applying Hanlon’s Razor to their bigoted actions when it’s very obvious to me that the actual intent of their actions was malicious.

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