Bar Ban: Indiana Owner Declares Anyone Criticizing Bud Light Will Be Thrown Out

We often discuss the twisted logic used on campuses where faculty and students will profess support for free speech while censoring or canceling others from speaking.  However, Fairfax Bar & Grill in Bloomington, Indiana, has taken this hypocrisy to a truly impressive level. The bar recently declared that it supports free speech so it will throw out anyone who criticizes Anheuser-Busch or BudLight for its campaign featuring transgender figure Dylan Mulvaney. Owner McKinley Minniefield told Newsweek “I won’t tolerate hate speech, and I think that’s where I draw the line.” It is that easy, you just declare opposing views to be hateful and then ban them from the bar.

The logic of Minniefield is so conflicted that it is enthralling. On Facebook, the bar posted the following:

“We are tired of all of the hate. We are very open to debate and discussion and it’s truly a shame that we can’t have open conversations about this important political and cultural topic. Bars, in our opinion, exist as public spaces where ideas should be exchanged. Unfortunately, due to all of the bigotry and hatred that has surfaced around the Bud Light controversy, any patron wanting to voice their concerns about the issue will be immediately asked to pay their bill and leave our establishment.”

Just to repeat: “We are very open to debate and discussion . . . any patron wanting to voice their concerns about the issue will be immediately asked to … leave our establishment.”

Minniefield added later

“We do not and will not censor opinions, but we do require civility in this establishment. So if you can’t play nice, then get out of the sandbox. That goes for everyone! Let’s remember why we even gather at a bar — to enjoy each other’s company — and raise a glass to civility.”

According to his policy, “playing nice” means not voicing an opposing view on this controversy. Yet, being tossed out of the bar is not considered censoring an opinion.

Notably, the ban is not on those who are shouting or engaging in disruptive conduct. It is anyone who “voices their concerns” about the transgender campaign.

Clearly, the bar has a free speech right to set such standards. Heck, we just discussed a bar that faced a boycott from the left over showing a Harry Potter game. It solved the problem with a cringing apology and promising to ban any Harry Potter images. This is not a denial of the right of the bar owner to impose his own views on patrons, but a criticism in how that right is being exercised.

Notably, many of the same people defended the right of players to kneel during the national anthem as an exercise of free speech. Yet, some support this bar tossing out those who express opposing views on the Bud Light controversy. What is maddening is for Minniefield and the bar to do so in the name of free speech.

All businesses and sites face tough choices in what to remove in terms of speech. Many blogs and newspapers like The Hill have now eliminated comment sections because it is too much work to monitor and make these decisions. On this blog, we use a WordPress system to remove profanity. We also remove a narrow range of threatening, doxing, or offensive content. However, we tend to allow a far greater range of speech than most sites, including speech that we find personally offensive and wrong.

The line drawing can be challenging. For example, most would agree that someone using racist or anti-Semitic attacks in reference to another patron should be asked to leave. However, it would be more problematic to toss out someone who is making a comment that is deemed inherently racist or intolerant. Such judgment can be highly subjective and biased.

In this case, the use of transgender advertising campaigns raises a host of issues for customers. I understand how many view this as an objection to the status of Mulvaney and a denial of her identity. However, there remains a major debate in society over the involvement of corporations to push such social agendas. We have to be able to discuss these issues. Indeed, I can imagine no more appropriate forum for discussing the Bud Light controversy than a bar. If a patron becomes loud and disruptive on either side of that debate, the bar has every reason to issue a warning and, if necessary, ask the patron to leave.

As discussed earlier, this Orwellian logic is being used widely on our campuses. Years ago, at Rice University, I debated NYU Professor Jeremy Waldron who is a leading voice for speech codes. Waldron insisted that shutting down speakers through heckling is a form of free speech. It is not. It is a rationalization for stopping certain views from being voiced or heard in higher education.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned). Even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.

So now bars are claiming that being tossed out for expressing your views on Bud Light is not censorship. It is merely “enjoying each other’s company.” It is more enjoyable without you sharing your opinion. So much for Bud Light’s slogan that it is “the perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary.”


296 thoughts on “Bar Ban: Indiana Owner Declares Anyone Criticizing Bud Light Will Be Thrown Out”

  1. Just go into the bar and order something else. Never Bud Light. If everyone does this, eventually the owner will get the message and take that tap off the menu.

  2. Professor Turley,

    Why are you covering this story and not the MT state legislature censuring a state legislator and denying her from participation in Congress?

    She was thrown out for doing her job. They blamed it on “decorum” without citing a specific rule that was violated

    This is a lot bigger deal than a random bar in Indiana. Her constituency in Missoula is directly affected by the GOP’s hatred for free speech. The mainstream of the GOP has joined the far left in their approach to curtailing speech to protect their feelings.

      1. It is only “opposite day” if you get your news from sites that fail to report on the GOPs consistent anti free speech actions nationwide.. such as fox and this blog

    1. That legislator was thrown out for both sponsoring and participating in a violent disruption on the floor of the legislature and closing down their business. They absolutely did cite blatant disregard for the rules of the legislature, including borderline illegal conduct. The problem is this legislator doesn’t want to be treated equally. The person wants to have special rights to act out, trash the order of their House and then act like a victim.

    2. That was not free speech, he deliberately disrupted a deliberative body and interrupted the work of the people. Hundreds have been convicted for protesting inside the nation’s capitol on 1-6.

  3. “We are very open to debate and discussion . . . any patron wanting to voice their concerns about the issue will be immediately asked to … leave our establishment.”
    McKinley Minniefield – he’s just a roving contradiction isn’t he? More leftist “logic” from Bizzaro world.

    Hey, McKinley, this Yuengling’s for you!

  4. On the restaurant side, patrons are being threatened by the meatball cartel. They are being warned that if they do not stop complaining about the meat balls, Guido is going have to have a chat with them. Out back. In the dark.

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