“Why Do Conservatives Hate Free Speech?” Part II

A Cheesecake Factory in the Miami area has suspended a bunch of employees because a guy in a “Make America Great Again” hat didn’t think their right to free speech trumped his (no pun intended). In fact, 22-year-old Eugenior Joseph was so upset about the fact that some staffers pointed at his hat and “cracked their knuckles” that someone in his group called the cops.

Eugenior Joseph

It’s a strange thing to hear from a conservative, isn’t it? Rather than relish the opportunity to open up a debate on the nature of his hat, rather even than call over a manager to complain, this 22-year-old Trump fan straight up called the cops and got these employees suspended. And all this despite the fact that from what we can tell, no one even said a damned thing in opposition to his hat, e.g. “Wow, I don’t like that Trump hat.” Whatever happened to the free marketplace of ideas?

Joseph says the staff pointed and laughed at him, booed him, “smacked their knuckles” near him, and refused to fill his water glass, which led his group to call the cops. Miami-Dade Police dutifully showed up to the chain restaurant, where Joseph’s group reported that the waitstaff was “gathering around [his] table and cracking their knuckles,” according to a police report.

But the cops found that “no threats were made” and “no physical altercation occurred” before closing the case without charges. Still, Joseph tells New Times that he felt physically threatened by a couple of people leering at him and that he felt particularly targeted because he was a black man wearing a pro-Trump hat.

Joseph and his friends were so upset, it turns out, that they embellished the story to include all kinds of things that didn’t exactly really happen quite at all, such as that “an elderly woman who was present had to take medication to calm herself down” and that “another coworker came by and they were staring at each other and he fist bumped him and then he started looking at me, balling his fists, smacking his fists, trying to scare me.” Of course, these facts went straight to The Daily Wire but seem to have disappeared in a puff of logic by the time other news sources, or police reports, got to them.

The Daily Wire, a clickbait enterprise run by racist Grimm’s fairy-tale elf Ben Shapiro, detailed Joseph’s utter nonstory in breathless prose designed to freak out 78-year-old MAGA patriots. The Daily Wire claims to have seen videos of the incident — but has declined to release the footage (cowards) — and reports that some workers threatened to punch Joseph in the face, while others might have called him the N-word. The Wire also claims that “the group of employees looked like a lynch mob” and that “the event was so traumatic and threatening that an elderly woman who was present had to take medication to calm herself.”

The alleged N-word incident didn’t come up in the police report, and Joseph didn’t mention it when speaking with New Times. The police also didn’t mention any elderly witnesses needing medication.

Now, clearly I’m having fun with this story, mostly because the kid was a wimp and a liar who was so cowardly he couldn’t even handle people leering at him without calling the cops. But that doesn’t mean I think people at the Cheesecake Factory should be allowed to belittle a customer without repercussions. Quite the contrary: anyone who goes to the Cheesecake Factory, whatever their beliefs or color or appearance, should get the same warm reception and tepid food as everyone else, free of vicious finger-wagging, be they Trumpers or Scientologists or any other kind of wackadoo conspiracy theorist moron. I mean, really, it’s the fucking Cheesecake Factory. Who else is gonna eat there?

Furthermore, I think this is one thing we can all agree on in a bipartisan, eat-and-let-eat spirit of capitalist open-mindedness. I think conservatives and liberals will agree with me that if I’m a paying customer and I go into an establishment where I’m paying for a service, I should be allowed to ask the manager to send away any waitstaffer who ridicules me for my beliefs, especially if they make threats that I deem to be racist. Just like if I’m at Starbucks, I should be treated the same whether I’m black or white.

And just like if I pay for college, where there has been an over 250% increase in white supremacist propaganda in just a few short years, I should be allowed to demand that speakers coming to my campus to tell me that black people have inferior intellects, or that lesbians aren’t real, or that I wasn’t really raped, should be disinvited. Especially since no one seems to care that the bill for my college that I’m paying is a lot more fucking money than a goddam cheesecake.

And of course, there’s nothing necessarily untoward with liberals demanding that these horrendous spewers of hatred do come to campuses, so we can have it out with them in the “marketplace of ideas” and prove their racism and sexism and homophobia to be the junk science that it is. Many liberals are very pro-speech as well, for just these reasons.

I wish I could say the same for conservatives. But as this example from the Cheesecake Factory shows, suppressing free speech, and even having a hissy fit, is something that conservatives love to do even more than they love shitty chain restaurants.


D. M. Collins

D. M. Collins is a journalist and writer based in Los Angeles.

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