One of my favorite local haunts has been in the news this week in the Cleveland area, so of course I feel the need to offer up an opinion. The West End Tavern has been put on blast because a waitress typed the word “fags” on a bar receipt. Great idea? Of course not. According to her explanation, it was intended to be a joke between friends. She didn’t anticipate that anyone would see it besides the recipients of the check in question. It fell into the wrong hands and the rest is history. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this type of thing has happened rather frequently. Whether it’s a racial or homophobic slur or perhaps a jab at someone with special needs, it’s all just one click away from becoming viral.
This is precisely why it was an incredibly stupid thing to do, regardless of intent. In the society we live in, people are just waiting for this kind of slip-up. We love to be enraged, it seems. You have to assume that everyone is watching. You’re always just a tweet, Facebook status update or Instagram post away from being taken to task. What disturbs me most is the reaction from the internet. Clearly, this server is an ambassador for the West End, right? It stands to reason that because she had a huge error in judgement everyone affiliated with the establishment must be bigots. I mean, there might as well be a “No Fags” menu board out front. Does that really make sense to anyone? 29 years of brunches, nights out and catching your favorite Cleveland sports games should surely hinge on the immaturity of one girl slinging drinks. What? Yes, that does sound pretty ridiculous when you put it in perspective. Those threatening to boycott are simply part of the problem. If you want to make a difference, go volunteer at a place specializing in GLBT teenagers making a frightening transition or donate to increase awareness. Not eating a cheeseburger at West End won’t change the world. It may take money out of a single mother’s pocket, but that doesn’t appear to be a factor with all these knee jerk reactions.
Let me clarify that I would never offer support for ANY business that exhibited any type of bigotry. I have far too many friends in all types of persuasions. I couldn’t back any organization that refused to see the beauty in all of the wonderfully diverse people I’ve collected over the years. With that being said, the witch hunt is ludicrous. Why in the world would you penalize the West End, their ownership and all of the other truly awesome people who work there? People need to get off the soap box long enough to see the big picture. This place isn’t standing behind the use of a homophobic slur on a receipt. In fact, they’ve issued a very heartfelt apology.
It’s pretty unfortunate that everything is under a microscope these days. Social media can be a beast. You can literally ruin people’s lives with a single snap chat. Where do we draw the line? Everyone is offended by something. There’s a woman I refer to as “camel face”. Now that I’ve put that in print, is there some sort of camel coalition that will come gunning for me? Admittedly, it’s hurtful (mostly to the camels). The point is, that’s MY opinion and I’m the one accountable for said opinion, although I feel like I could sway some votes if you were to see a side by side comparison. No, I’m not comparing camels to the gay community…. So don’t run with that. I’m simply pointing out that anything can be made to be offensive if you try hard enough. I don’t really see that changing any time soon. We live in a social media driven society, which is a double edged sword. It’s fairly frightening how powerful that can be. If you act like a jackass, there’s sufficient opportunity for someone to capitalize. I’m confident that the West End ownership will do the right thing in this situation and I urge people to show support for something they clearly had zero control over. I’m also realizing how thankful I am that social media wasn’t around to document my dumbass years.