No Mall For Old Men

spartacus.jpg Spartacus

37356199Last Saturday, Don Zirkel from Bethpage, NY was forcibly escorted from the Smith Haven mall in Lake Grove, NY — a suburban community here on Long Island.

Zirkel (left) is an 80-year old deacon at a Roman Catholic Church is Wyandanch who’s had a distinguished career in public service including a stint in the Army. He was there to protest the war, exercising his Constitutionally granted right to free speech by handing out pamphlets and wearing that t-shirt, which Mall management found offensive.

The full story can be found here from Newsday.com.

But a more careful reading of the article reveals that this is not so much a cut-and-dried denial of free speech, but a more sinister denial of Zirkel’s civil rights.

According to the article, the actual protest against the Iraq War took place outside the mall. When Zirkel was confronted by mall security and later arrested by the Suffolk County police, he was inside the mall enjoying french fries and coffee with his wife. He was still wearing his Iraq-War-protest t-shirt, but causing no trouble. Yet, he was forcibly removed from the mall and arrested because he refused….REFUSED…to turn his shirt inside-out. C’mon, look at this guy. Does he look like anyone who would cause a ruckus, let alone present a danger to mall patrons?

Unbelievable.

Welcome to America 2008. Deal with it. I never thought I’d see a day when a private entity has the right to declare an object of clothing offensive because someone happens to be wearing it on their property. What’s next? A return to days of segregation when black folks could only drink from certain water fountains or use a separate entrance to access an establishment? Okay, so you think that’s extreme? What if the mall owners one day decide that wearing a yarmulke or a “Kiss me, I’m Irish” t-shirt is offensive ? While it would be my dying wish to see them ban people who come in wearing pajama bottoms and flip-flops, could this be considered a case of unfair discrimination against war protesters? I wonder. I know these are hyperbolic examples, but given that malls now have the right to remove people from their private property that they deem “offiensive”, what’s to stop them from targeting other classes of individuals?

The case most often cited by the mall owners goes back to 1985, when, ironically, the New York State Court of appeals ruled in Shad Alliance v. Smith Haven Mall, 66 NY2d 496 that “no free speech right that would entitle citizens to hand out leaflets in a private shopping center.” Writing for the Court, Judge Vito J. Titone stated:

“Smith Haven Mall is not the functional equivalent of a government and its conduct is not the equivalent of governmental conduct.”

and

To be sure, the shopping mall has taken on many of the attributes and functions of a public forum … but the characterization or the use of property is immaterial to the issue of whether state action has been shown.

(Source: Law.com)

What this ruling tells me is that, if that a mall’s management does not like you, for any reason, they can throw you out on your ass, or worse, have the police arrest you for trespassing. Never mind that these structures are designed as open public spaces. Mall owners and operators in the State of New York have had a 23-year old ruling that, in effect, states “just call them protesters.” It says that as a private property owner, you can pick and choose which constitutionally protected civil liberties you want to honor.

Still, the fact remains that Zirkel posed no threat to anyone. Clearly, up until his arrest, he had no beef with the Smith Haven Mall. He was patronizing one of their establishments. He was spending money!

But that didn’t matter to the crack Smith Haven Mall security force. They’re probably under orders to not let anyone interfere with the pleasant shopping atmosphere they work so hard to achieve. The last thing a big ticket shop-a-holic needs to see is some old geezer in an ill-fitting, blood stained t-shirt protesting the war. I could just hear the mall manager blurt, “It’s bad enough we have to let them get their exercise in the place, now they want to protest the war? Get the fuck outta here!”

And that’s where it’s at people.

“Sorry, Mr. Zirkel, this is no mall for old men! We don’t serve your kind here.”

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~ by Spartacus on April 3, 2008.

49 Responses to “No Mall For Old Men”

  1. Since the aim is to privatize everything, ultimately there will be no public space left in which to protest. The right to assemble has already been under attack for years with laws against “loitering,” the requirement of permits in order to demonstrate, the ghettoization of protest into so-called “free speech zones” and so on.

  2. CDash – You’re absolutely right about that. I saw that first-hand here in New York in 2004 during the Republican National Convention. It got pretty nasty, too, with cops rounding up anyone that looked a protester. The City is still sorting through the lawsuits and claims of police brutality. Again, I ask how long will it before you get hauled off for looking like some other undesirable character, say, a terrorist? I fear that it’s not far off, if not already at hand.

  3. What next, segregated lunch counters again? I mean, what was the legal rationalization for those?

  4. I would say “unbelievable”, but it’s not. A similar thing was going on here; the county leased public space to a private developer for a “Downtown Silver Spring” shopping area, and the developer proceeded to have citizens with cameras removed (and arrested if they refused to leave). This isn’t even a mall, it’s a neighborhood, with county-maintained streets. They’ve changed this policy after vigorous protest, but I wonder what would happen if someone wore this tshirt in Downtown Silver Spring.

    Maybe I’ll just have to find out.

  5. SB – The legal rationalization for it was called “separate but equal”, otherwise known as the Jim Crow laws, which, essentially legalized segregation. Those laws were invalidated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but like all legal finagling, it would appear that malls and other corporate interests have found a loophole via this free speech restriction.

    CDP – So, it is worse than I thought. They actually tried to do that down in the DC area? Awful. What is this country coming to with these civic associations gone wild?

  6. It was a rhetorical question, Spartacus. The justification for this reminds me of that (i.e., the idea that individual store owners could make those kinds of decisions). And don’t forget Brown v. Board.

  7. The property is privately owned even though it’s open to the public.

    Businesses have the right to refuse people service.

    Is it right?

    In this situation, I’d say no. Obviously, as you mentioned, he posed no threat.

    Although, one could argue because passions are so strong in regard to the war, it could create a danger.

    Of course, if that’s their stance, then they’d have to ask people wearing, “I Luv Merica” shirts to leave as well.

    If people are honestly pissed, they need to stop visiting that mall.

    Boycott.

    And I don’t think it’s right to compare this to Segregation.

    They didn’t sick German Shepards on him, or crack his skull, and dump him in a ditch.

    He can change his shirt.

  8. Many people did use that exact same argument for segregation in private businesses, fairlane: that private business owners could serve whoever they wanted, regardless of color, etc. Yeah, he can change his shirt, and yeah, it’s a lot easier when we can hide our differences.

  9. I understand that Empress, but the two issues don’t even remotely compare.

    First, and foremost, millions of people have been murdered (and are continued to be murdered) because of racism.

    Other than the great “Prussian Tee-Shirt Purges of 1787” people with Tee-shirts are relatively safe 8)

    Second, as I mentioned, passions over this war are HIGH. I’ve seen people almost come to blows over bumperstickers. All it takes is one asshole with a short fuse, and Presto, Blammo!

    Business owners have to protect themselves. (Not all businesses are bad).

    If a riot broke out over a tee-shirt, who do you think people would come after?

    Whomever owns that property.

    Third, he can change his tee-shirt. His attire is what’s being “segregated,” not him. Shirtism is not the same as Racism.

    I understand this administration is hellbent on doing away with dissent, but at the same time, you have to choose your battles because there are simply too many to fight.

    If I were him, or someone in that town, I’d push to have all political tee-shirts banned. No, “Support the Troops,” or “Let’s Roll,” or Pictures of Bin Laden being murdered, whatever.

    I think that’s more effective than complaining about it because it’s too easy to dismiss it as pettiness.

    If other people, who may not agree with Mr. Zirkel, are also included, then you have a “Serious Issue.”

    I’m not saying we should have to hide our differences, but I don’t understand advertising your political beliefs in such a way. What does it accomplish?

    If I ever get a manslaughter charge, I don’t want it to be over a fucking tee-shirt.

    In other news, this disagreement only furthers my belief that you were the right choice as Empress, and as our newest contributor.

    But I’m not “idealizing” you.

  10. I know the issues don’t compare. I just think the fact that people can make rationalizations to smooth over the wrongs committed by society that seems similar, if that makes sense. Does that make sense? I think it’s the war thing that makes me defensive of this man and this issue in particular. It’s the idea that people still want to defend it, and his shirt so clearly bottom lines it for me. I find it offensive, too. That’s a lot of dead people. I don’t just see a T-shirt. I see a godawful fvck up that we’re responsible for, that I am morally responsible for even though I didn’t want it and I didn’t vote for the Shrub or any of that, and I feel sick about it. Nothing can make this right or bring those people back. I hate that. Which, I guess, only proves your point.

    Is this a disagreement, fairlane? Am I going to get flowers when we make up?

  11. I like white roses.

  12. As a moral and ethical proposition, it’s appalling. As a question of property rights, the mall owners may well be within their legal rights to take this action.

    The market-based economy, however, is a cruel master. One tends to think reflexively that such things as “free-market” and “property rights” = USA-USA-USA-THE-SURGE-IS-WORKING and so on.

    It’s just not that way as the European Union and Canada to take two familiar examples have quite ably demonstrated. Capitalism doesn’t know from patriotism. It doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about jobs shipped overseas and it equally doesn’t care about a bunch of limpdick mall owners’ “patriotic sensibilities.”

    From what does a mall derive it’s profits? Principally, it derives its profits from the leases of the franchises within the mall and whatever profits they take from the parking. There are other issues, of course, like the fluctuating values of the leases, etc., but that’s the basic sense of it.

    The mall needs franchises to keep paying rent and people to keep coming to pay for parking and to keep the franchises profitable so that they can continue to pay rent.

    Last I saw there were quite a few malls on Long Island. The Smith Haven mall therefore is rather vulnerable to a boycott in the short-term and the kind of bad publicity that arises from the disgusting treatment of Don Zirkel. Franchiss-holders of places like Burger King and McDonald’s are very sensitive to this sort of thing because they already have to pay the franshisors such huge fee. And that really goes for the smaller chain stores and family-owned stores as well. If not more so. How about some of the upscale stores like Armani or Prada? The HAVE no customers who wave flage, hate Arabs and support the war and the Smith Haven mall is at best a gamble or a loss-leader for them.

    If everybody wrote one email to the marketing departments of all the parent companies of the upscale stores in the Smith Haven mall with Mr. Zirkel’s picture and the accompanying article, they would feel pressure to give up on such a place, eat the lease or sue to break it, and focus their more reliable customers in Great Neck, Roslyn, Oyster Bay, Plandome, etc.

    Moreover, upscale companies have too much goodwill on their balance-sheets to begin with. A story like this could affect them EVERYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. Do you really think any of these upscale foreign compainies want to be seen as PARTNERS-IN-WAR-PROPAGANDA with some bullshit Archie Bunker mall? Don’t you thikn they could even get a push in their better US locations by SUPPORTING Deacon Zirkel’s right to protest? Or to wear whatever fucking T-shirt he wants?

    BENNETTON and KENNETH COLE figured this out sometime during Reagan’s first term!

    The owners of Smith Haven Mall bankrupt of this? Hmmm…I like the idea. It certainly has a sense of sweet justice to it.

  13. Fuck it, Spartacus, you tell me the names of the upscale stores in the Smith Haven Mall and I’ll write up an email that will have some “bite.” No foul-language. No slang. Just eloquent business-speak with an edge.

  14. Empress- I’m committing white roses to memory.

    Goodnight.

  15. Spartacus – you and I discussed this a bit. The f*cked up system does make the mall private property blah blah blah.

    To me the real issues boil down to the fact that there are many in our country who would just want to jackboot and silence any dissenting voice in any way possible.

    We are f*cked.

  16. Hello, Spartacus.
    Having been one of those franchisees that had to go shopping around for a property, I can tell you that the mall owners did the right thing.
    You put up a lot of money for the franchise, and hope you can get it back. Then more for leases for equipment, bankrolling the payroll, as debt increases. It has a way of making you seek out the safe way of doing things.
    Any strip mall owner is going to have a policy on signage. As the business owner, you can negotiate a bit, but in the end, you either accept it or you don’t.
    So you’ve got these businesses paying out probably between $25 to $30 per square foot to be in this mall. And then they pay the common area maintenance fees for the landscaping, security, etc.
    The franchisor has requirements as to what type of insurance is necessary. In my case it was $1 million liability with both myself and the franchisor named on the policy.

    Just as the owner of the property is entitled to rights and reasonable expectations (which are formalized in state law) governing the relationship with whatever businesses are located at that property, the business owner also has an explicit contract, also governed by state law, with any of its patrons.
    The patron also has certain rights and obligations.

    Going back to an incidence in Ontario where a Sikh student sued for the right to carry his ceremonial dagger to public school, and won on the basis of freedom of religion.
    If anyone came into my business wearing a dagger of any type for any reason, it would be time for them to leave the property, and quickly, unless they really want to be hasled by the cops.
    Not against the practice of anyone’s religion, just that my business is not the place for people to be going to make a show of their faith.

    Similarly, with an ongoing protest right outside its doors, and in a potentially combustible situation, the management demonstrated reasonable discretion in asking the man to turn his t-shirt inside out. That would be the prudent thing to do, both to maintain order and to minimize the possibility of harm befalling this patron by dissenters.

    The matter would have been over and done had the man been able to see the other side of it.
    Too many one-track minds.

    As for myself, I am fully willing to let these modern day Zenos step off of the cliff.
    That would make the world a more peaceful place.

  17. Prog/Trad:

    As a free-market capitalist, I absolutely agree with you as I think I made clear, though probably in too tongue-in-cheek a way. So, let me start again. I agree with you. I wish I didn’t have to because I oppose the war in Iraq but I do agree. My point is that there are plenty of “business-first” reasons for NOT taking the course of action they did and quite possibly the smarter business decision for all involved would have been to let Mr. Zirkel go about his shopping without hassle. That’s what’s great about capitalism. You pay your money and your take your chances.

    I am merely curious about your own personal level of consitency on the subject. Since neither of us have access to the developer or current owner’s finances we can’t really make a guess at what the right business decision for him,her them would have been.

    I know plenty of property developers whose politics are far left of mine. I’ve yet to hear than any other them kicked anybody out for wearing Nazi gear let alone any kind of enthusiasitic American patriotic gear that might be interpreted or misinterpreted as being say anti-Arab, anti-Black, anti-Mexican and so on.

    If I had developed a mall and was running it myself and had good franchises in it and was making good money, and let’s aay it was April 18th and there was a kind of Pro-America/Pro-Aryan/Pro-Hitler demonstration going on outside my mall and some old dude strode in wearing a shirt that said — let’s say — “1,000,000 IRAQI DEAD < TWO TWIN TOWERS”, unless it caused some fracas inside I’d be inclined to let the fellow go about his shopping and if asked my opinion by a reporter, I’d probably say “I believe in freedom of expression…so long as he’s not hassling other customers, I really don’t care what idiotic shirt one knucklehead wears inside my mall.”

    I know developers who would not be so broad-minded, who might have the guy tossed on his ass by security and say “I run a plaza of shops here not a Militia compound…come here dressed to shop and stay as long as you like…come here looking to offend my many Arab and Muslim customers and you’re gone.”

    So, with the shoe on the other foot, would you, yourself, Prog/Trad take the same point of view? You can be dishonest with me if you like, but you should be honest with yourself.

    Really, when you think about it, most Americans AGREE with the sentiment expressed on the imaginary t-shirt in my example. Most Americans feel no number of dead Arabs will make up for the attack those Americans really only suffered by proxy.

  18. All – I will try and be brief with my comments here because so many of you have made strong points arguing both sides of the issue. I think the question here is where is the line drawn between Mr. Zirkel’s right to free expression and the mall’s private property rights?

    I fully understand that a mall’s property rights are rooted in it’s right to earn a profit and that it must and will do all it can to protect the brand names of the businesses that are operating under it’s roof. But in this case, and in many others, it runs smack up against every American’s right to free expression and to be who they are.

    The reason why I characterized this as a civil rights issue is because, in my mind, this type of broad authority that malls have to exclude anyone that is a threat to their business or “brand” can have ramifications greater than just free speech denials. My fear is that unscrupulous or weary mall owners looking to exclude classes of people will use its private property rights to restrict free speech to do so.

    My question remains – where do we draw the line?

  19. There is a particular shop that I patronize.
    This is a mom & pop hole-in-the-wall, two shops in one, really.
    I think if I went up to the guy and told him that I want to bone his wife it wouldn’t go over to well.
    Any place you go into, you’re there on your good graces. If you can’t act right, you’ve got to go.
    And “act right” means different things in different places. Proper behavior at the skating rink might not go over so well at the library.

    And consider the average laziness factor of the typical mall security grunt.
    I can’t help but think that they would find a way to not walk across the mall if there wasn’t any way they could get out of it.
    What’s missing is a statement from security as to exactly why this was an issue.

    Now, were this to happen out on the village green, it would be a different matter.

  20. Kelso said better what I was going to say. I would’ve just let the dude alone unless he was generating quite the ruckus, and that would go for anyone donning pro-war/occupation shirts. Sure, some customers might have been offended Zirkel’s shirt just on viewing it, but I’ve seen my fair share of Jesus! Yay! clothing and have to listen to wankers tell me to have a blessed day. Unless the situation was going to escalate into a riot of fisticuffs detrimental to the bottom line of loot and control, and that’s what everything on planet earth is about, then let the man stroll around, especially if his pamphleteering was outside.

  21. What if he bought the t-shirt at that mall? It isn’t impossible since I’ve seen some very weird ones and certainly offensive to some people for sale at malls here. Perhaps it’s all beside the point but I wonder if that would have made a difference? All in all I prefer a nice plain shirt since t-shirt philosophy is lame and leaves no room for rational discussion about complex issues.

  22. I was trying to get at Mr Graves point earlier.
    From the business owner’s perspective, it is always easier (ie less marginal costs) to let the thing blow over.
    This guy came in for a burger (!) after rousing a ruckus outside.

    It is security’s job to make sure that the ruckus doesn’t make it in the doors.
    Arrest is a last resort. The man wouldn’t comply with more polite requests.
    Failure to comply with polite requests is de facto requisition of less likely means.

    We still don’t know what kind of complaints were phoned in to the mall security due to malcontents.

    I support the man’s position, but I can’t support his methods.

    The means is the end. The road is the journey.

  23. Prog/Trad:

    My point is that there’s no STANDARD to solve this problem, so I’d prefer to err on the side of free-speech. Property-rights alone are not going to provide the answer. I’m going to write some very tough things now because apparently my more reasoned posts didn’t sink in.

    Go back to what I wrote about capitalism. It knows no flag. Why don’t you understand that? That’s a rhetorical question.

    How much time have you spent among the ultra-wealthy? I mean billioinaires and titled English land owners and that sort of thing? I’m guessing not very much. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in those circles because I used to run money.

    The wealthy don’t mind profiting off of American patriotic fantasies, but they don’t hold them themselves. Whom do you think would be a more welcome guest of Dick Cheney, me or you? Whom do you think Dick Cheney would have more to talk about with, me or you? You care about a nice old man’s T-shirt and how it steps on the rights of the mall owner. Maxel tov. Do you think Dick Cheney does? It doesn’t mean a pile of warm dung to Cheney or anyone like him.

    As “liberal” as I am, as “street” as I am, as outrageous as I am, I can move in those circle and you CAN’T, because I know how to speak their language even if I speak it with a coarse New York accent.

    The American flag wavers are merely another factor in a complex series of stochastic decision trees leading to various complex wagers and investments — all of which carry the same property-rights as some nudnik’s mall does. That’s all your patriotismn is worth. Sorry.

    Isn’t it better then to be part of a movement that supports basic constitutional rights? Isn’t a freer society better for both the individual and corporation?

    I hate to break it to all American flag-wavers but if I don’t write what I know I do nobody any good: YOU HAVE APPROXIMATELY ZERO CHANCE OF JOINING THE RULING CLASS AND THE RULING CLASS’S POLITICS ARE WAY TO YOUR LEFT. You make useful tools and good physical agents of enforcement, but nobody of any wealth or stature is in a big hurry to invite you to dinner.

    I’ll sum it all up with a joke: One nobleman to another “The peasants are revolting!” The 2nd nobleman: “No more than usual.”

    You got the wrong side in this fight, buddy. Trust me.

  24. Hello, Kelso.
    I think you missed the boat, buddy.
    I don’t see how this has anything whatsoever to do with capitalism or a political structure.
    It does have to do with common law and a priori claims on property.

    It also has to do with confusing the right to free speech as an absolute right.
    But neither are property rights absolute, granted.

    Still, it comes down to property rights vs. speech rights.

    Now, with the shoe on the other foot, where do you wish for your property rights to be limited?
    To what extent should the assertion of another person’s rights be allowed to affect your property?

  25. good post.
    If you spend money you should be able to wear whatever t-shirt you want.
    if they set trip…go somewhere else

  26. Alo Prog/Trad:

    I want my property, inlcuding intellectual property, if not pledged as collateral, to be free of the possibility of expropriation whether by public or private interests. I do not consider a collective labor bargain to be expropriation. I do not oonsider an old man wearing a t-shirt I agree with or disagree on my mall if he’s there to spend money or just enjoy the day to be expropriation. But I hold a very expansive view of freedom of speech, expression and assmebly. I also think that I’d be nimble enough to turn a PROTEST at my mall to my business advantage while not interfering with any protestor’s rights.

    But which boat did I miss? That means a missed opportunity, uusally financial. I’m not speaking much English these days but it is my first language and I used to be OK at it.

    If you mean I “missed the point,” I disagree. I don’t think I missed the point at all. My point is that I can make a good argument that by tossing the guy out of the mall, the owners (or the guards if it had just been them acting impulsively) were putting their own property at MORE risk because of the nature of commercial development, retail, publicity, etc.

    I was also making the argument that capitalism as such is not partisan and that there is a great misconception in America about it. And about social class. Throwing Don Zirkel out of the mall could end up costing the owners more money than it potentially saves them.

    I think a lot of these kinds of paradoxes are kind of endearing in a peculiar way. I found the book WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? troubling because it made me realize that ultimately I’d have to leave the country. The part, however, about the average Kansan’s propensity to vote for and work against his own best interest and for my best interests was pretty tragic. I have opposed the war in Iraq and basically everything the Bush administration has wanted and gotten, but do you think that would stop me from keeping my ExxonMobil stock and from putting it into trust for my son?

    Defending the institution over the individual is a fine point of view for you to have. Defending the rights of the individual over the instituion is a fine point of view for me to have. Neither of us is going to profit necessarily from our own points of view, but if enough poor American hawks whose annual salaries aren’t equal to the dividends my son’s getting on that ExxonMobil he doesn’t even know he owns, want to play the fool, it’s super cherry by me.

    I just happen to have a social conscience and when an opportunity to write the truth presents itself, I’m going to do it.

    I have no idea. Maybe some Wingnut shows this thread to his son and says “look at this shit this Jew bastard Kelso wrote about your having no future…stay in school do your work be a good American and prove that Jew motherfucker wrong.” If that happens, I’ve maybe in my atheist way, saved a soul, and started a kid out on a successful career path.

    Similarly, if the small businessperson believes that halting dissent helps him or her, that’s also tragic. I thikn I made that well clear.

    Missed the boat? Yeah, I missed the boat alright. I didn’t buy any Wackenhut or CCA stock when Bush got selected.

    Funny how these 19th-century arguments remain relevant today.

  27. Spartacus: I’m sorry for going on about this. I know it wasn’t what you intended and I know it’s the kind of thing that makes my blog such slow-going. I happen to be very radically left on individual rights, but intensely practial even obsessive — far-right, if you will — about money and markets.

    I’ve spent more time finding a moral balance on this subject than I have on any other philosophical question. This post just hit me on about every subject that interests me from current affairs to Marxism to the valuation of contingent claims.

  28. Kelso (and everyone else on this thread) – this is the kind of commentary a blogger can only dream of. I welcome it. All of it. Ask Fairlane, the man who runs this “team” — we just don’t want commenters who agree. We want commenters who comment; who give us opinions; who make us think.

    For the record, I don’t fully agree with the Progressive Traditionalist because I believe that the right to free speech one’s property rights are ordinal; that is, free-speech must come first. Yes, there are limits that involve safety and civility (e.g., fire in a crowded theater; I want to fuck your wife/husband), but clearly Don Zirkel passed that test. He was no threat.

  29. Hello, all.
    Once again, I was not as clear as I had hoped.
    Here it is:
    but clearly Don Zirkel passed that test. He was no threat.
    We don’t know the level of threat for certain.
    I’m not suggesting that the old man was a threat, but he might have been under some threat. There may well have been calls in to security from people opposed to the protesters.
    The man was out having a nice little protest and went in to have a burger. Fine.
    Then they say, “Don’t bring your protest in here.” Fine.
    The old man didn’t care to acknowledge that he was there by virtue of his good graces. He was shown bad graces.
    The business owner is always going to err on the safe side. Having a lot of money invested will tend to do that to a person.
    Five bucks on a burger and the guy thinks he owns the place. He learned different.

    Defending the institution over the individual…
    Wrong. It comes down to one guy that got a license from the city– no institution.
    It was his place.
    Wondering if the old man would have showed up at Trader Vic’s and been refused entry if there would be the same type of fuss.
    The mall here has been the victim of its own hospitality.
    And that hospitality was violated.

    One more point:
    [T]he average Kansan’s propensity to vote for and work against his own best interest…
    Absolute bullshit.
    I’ve been to Kansas. I spent most of last September out there. I like those people.
    Who says that they’re voting against their own interests? Some consultant-class wobble-head?
    They went with what choices they had.
    Did you know that Kansas has a Democratic governor? Kathleen Sebilius.
    Kansas isn’t that much different than the rest of the country.
    They voted for Republicans because they wanted government reform. Instead, they got some wackos with a hidden agenda. They voted them out in the next cycle. In some cases, they just got rid of them.
    When they saw they had a problem, they dealt with it themselves, and to hell with what anyone else thought.

    Instead of blaming the good people of Kansas, why not ask why it was that the Democrats weren’t able to give them a better choice?

  30. “Kansas” was a metaphor and you know that.

    Sibelius by the way would fit comfortably in the right wing of the UK’s Tory party or Spain’s Alianza Popular. Shit, she might fit in the left-wing of the National Front or Fuerza Nueva! Yes, that’s how far to the right American poltics are compared with the world’s other democratic capitalist republics. So, let’s stay a little focused here.

    Really, plesae tell me how different Sibelius’s views are than Ann Widdecombe’s. Or than Jean-Marie LePen’s. For crying out loud the leader of the British Conservative Party is AGAINST the war in Iraq. So, if you want to talk about Midwestern female pols who are in step with the rest of the capitalist world, let’s talk Tammy Baldwin, Marcy Kaptur, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones…at least they’d be in the Kenneth Clarke wing of the Tories or tne Blair wing of Labour.

    I not only don’t care that you’re a corporatist, I’m happy about it on a million levels. I am about making money first and foremost. Now, that I don’t have to deal with the cultural values of “Kansas” telling me how to live my life, I can focus on making money. I like that.

    Bush’s wars have been a financial boon for me and I count on able footsoliders such as yourself to keep the fires burning and to argue against dissent whenever possible. Listen, I wanted peace, but if someone’s going to throw free money at me, I’m going to put it in my pocket thank you very much.

    Being 6000 miles away, I really need more White people to crush dissent and vote for a police state. Just more lettuce in my pocket, buddy, and I don’t have to deal with all the infernal rules. I can wear any T-shirt I want anywhere I want and about the worst that’ll happen is a good-natured barb from a Yankee fan for my Mets shirt or from a Herrera fan for my Metro shirt.

    I have approximately zero chance of having a Don Zirkel experience. You have about a 25%.

    But I’ll go along with the owner of the mall being an “individual” with rights that perhaps supercede those of Mr. Zirkel in this situation. But why can’t I make you understand that capitalism has no side in a stupid culture war? I just hope the mall owner doesn’t cry foul when the management of ARMANI (USA) tells him that they depend maintaining a certain kind of corporate image and that rough treatment of Mr. Zirkel near an ARMANI outlet in New York State has very bad consequences for their brand and thus rae suing the mall owner to break the store’s lease and for compensatory damages to the “goodwill” in the brand.

    The mall owner’s not a favorite to win that case you know.

    Whose side do you have in that fight? Armani (USA) Inc is by US law a “person,” and “individual,” with the same rights and responsibilities as Don Zirkel and the mall owner.

    Either study some business, finance, law, and interntioanl politics or go back to Kansas because you’re not bringing anything to this discussion beyond a rehash of some corporate mantra that most corporations don’t even want any part of, least of all American subsidiaries of European parents.

    Something I tell my son all the time. You can learn a lot by doing the reading, the homework and paying attention in class. Funny how THAT works.

    I’m very glad you like Kansans. I’ll probably bet on KU to beat NC in the semis.

  31. At one time, I thought you were slightly intelligent, though too dumb to know that you bore the fuck out of people.

    Where have I EVER said anything that would indicate that I am corporatist in any way?

    Not white, not fully. And if you weren’t so stuck on yourself, maybe you would already know that 1 out of nine people in New Mexico are indians. That’s registered with a tribe. Lots more like me that are mixed or unregistered.

    I don’t give a damn about KU. I like the people, not their sports teams. There’s a difference, ya know.

    Either study some business, finance, law, and interntioanl politics…
    You’re a fool Kelso.
    With this statement, you said it yourself.

    Learn to read before flapping your gums. You are empty wind, with a foul smell.
    Where I come from, we have a name for that.

  32. Alright kids, let’s at least try to keep it Civil.

    The Dude was kicked out of a Mall.

    The Fate of the Empire isn’t at Stake.

  33. Alright.

    I just called Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and spoke to someone at the management office there.
    I was told that they don’t have an Armani’s there, and that the nearest one is at Roosevelt Field Mall in Cedarhurst.

    So I called there and spoke to the lady at AX Armani Exchange at Roosevelt Field. I asked if there was another Armani’s around that would be closer to Lake Grove.
    I was told that the only other Armani’s on Long Island was in Walt Whitman.

    So post a case number, if this is something real.
    Because nobody else has ever heard of it.

    Peerhaps it was that fabrication was your specialty in your study of business, finance, and law.

  34. I should have said that that is a distance of 31 miles.
    So, I think Armani is going to lose that case.

  35. What the Neo libs and cons want to see is a T shirt that says I am spending my grand children’s inheritance. or some fucked up shit like that.

    The pictures in this post tell it all – his bio tells it all , and the Malls freakin privatization of everything – no public plaza, anymore.

    MY major COMPLAINT : they do not listen to us. I got hung up on twice by Kerry’s office , called Kennedy, Have called dozens of them dozens of times…isn’t that what we are supposed to do ? WE THE PEOPLE – i was calling about their support of a NONinclusive ENDA bill leaving out the T or transgendered in the bill. Anyhow with Kerry i calmly said He has blood on his hands. Twice. His punk ass office gomer..hung up on me. We pay their saleries..

    I digress but i sooo tired of not being heard by government and living in fascist Corportist amerika

  36. PT- I had to remove some of your comment.

    Sorry, but that went a little too far.

    For all concerned parties, I’ll ask again, keep it civil.

  37. It’s gettin hot in here…prog trad- it is much easier to break something down than it is to build it.
    We all like challenges
    shake hands(souls) fellas

  38. Agreed..love the commentary. Everyone makes good points.

    Prog/Trad – Appropos of nothing, but Roosevelt Field Mall is in Garden City.

    I won’t go into it any further on whether Zirkel was a threat or not. Not liking a guy’s t-shirt, in my book, does not constitute a threat. Throwing him out on the other hand, and correct me if I’m wrong, was a business decision. And if the latter is true, which I believe it is, then our country has a much deeper problem looming with civil rights than we think. If brick-and-mortar establishments are allowed to exclude anyone on the profile basis, then we need to go back and re-think how the constitution and federal law apply to businesses. I know that I can take my business elsewhere if I am rejected at one place, but why should it be on me to have to drive for hours and miles because the place nearest to me won’t let me because of what I choose to wear or, dare I say, the texture of my hair? I don’t believe for a minute that businesses will exercise restraint in this manner, and by your reasoning, they simply don’t have to.

  39. Prog/Trad: You win, buddy. I’m wrong and I’ve taken your harsher remarks about me to heart. There’s merit in them. I would only beg everyone’s understanding that I cannot help myself from being boring because I don’t speak much English anymore. A lot of thoughts, ideas, concerpt in English build up while I’m speakng Spanish.

    For better or worse Spanish is my language now and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Best to set the English aside for times when I really need it.

    Congratulations, Jonestown. Keep up the good work.

    Congratulation, Prog/Trad. Ring up a winner for yourself. Put it in the books, buddy. You got the best of it. Your logic was superior, your stylistics better, and you fought your corner more bravely. No one can say you’re boring or are of limited intelligence.

    Me, on the other hand, well….I got a problem or two in both those areas. Should have known I was overmatched.

    Thanks for being a good sport. If you are ever in Panama City, be sure to look me up and we’ll knock back a beer or ten and settle the world.

    Once again. Mazel tov, mi brother. Well done.

  40. Hello, Kelso.
    Don’t overdo it.
    You’re not a bad fellow, and for the most part, I like you. And usually, your comments are rather insightful, and your take on things is a bit refreshing because it’s not so bland.

    As an observation, did you ever notice that it’s when you leave the topic to go into something personal that the problems start?
    Same here.
    Going to the person is rarely an effective means of discussion, and even in those cases where it is, it remains in poor taste.
    Not that you wouldn’t see a lot of that around the blogs. Most blogging is knee-jerk kind of stuff without much thought. Doesn’t mean all of it has to be.

    And Fairlane was right to edit that comment above. Really, he wouldn’t have been in the wrong to delete, although I would hope that he would give me the opportunity to try again if it came to that.

    Now, the reason that I didn’t take to the apology the first time around was because of the smugness. And now that it’s gone, I accept.
    And I offer you my sincere apology.
    But I don’t feel as if I’m able to apologize meaningfully without being able to accept the other party without reservation.

    I got really angry when you came out with a bucketful of assumptions about me, and just because of the one position.
    The fact is, I am looking at it from the other side. I don’t want people to have claims on my property (although there are), and so I want to be very careful about laying claims to others’ property. Be it a person or a business– doesn’t amtter.

    I have to wonder if some anti-war activist car-jacked somebody to get a way to go to some protest if everyone would like it just as well.

    Now, from other accounts of this incident, the protest moved across the street to some park after the old man was arrested, and everyone was happy. The security got several “Thank yous” from the people there.
    It’s not about the war. It’s about commandeering anothers’ property.

    I have no right to shove a shopping cart into someone’s car.
    But supposedly, were I to do so as a legitimate means of protest, it would be ok.

    WTF???

  41. wow

    now back to our movie “Scenes from a Mall” starring Bette Midler and Woody Allen

  42. DCap- LOFL! (And I hate using those chat room acronyms, so, you know I’m honestly laughing out fucking loud).

    I’m glad you two came around because it is a serious pain in my white ass when I have to intervene.

    I really want this blog to provide a place where people can disagree, but we can’t have people threatening one another. It could result in Jonestown being locked down by WordPress.

    I already had a fucking Wingnut get my blog locked for two days because my mother called her a “Pinhead.” And then for a month afterward, WordPress Administration had a link to my blog monitoring me.

    I don’t know how Blogger works, but if WordPress so deems it, they can take your blog, and not give it back.

    That’s a lot of writing (Some great writing, by the way), and a lot of work.

    I would not be a happy camper, and would have no other choice, but to have those responsible removed from the gene pool.

    Remember, my mother is a well connected Wingnut.

    The cursing is fine, but keep the “My dick is bigger than your dick” shit where it belongs, at the Frat House.

  43. If I accept the free speech argument, then I have to accept that Fred Phelps has the right to go into a funeral home where he’s protesting at to get a cup of coffee.

    I don’t want to give Phelps that right.

  44. Sorry Prod Trad but there’s huge difference between Fred and Don. For one, people don’t normally go into funeral homes to purchase coffee. Number two, (and I could be wrong on this), but Don was not protesting the mall per se, he was protesting the war. Three, a protest against the war create a security threat, in the way that harassing someone at funeral home does. other than the wearing of the t-shirts, Don was no security threat. He was no menace. Someone just didn’t like his t-shirt. Fred Phelps, on the other hand, is a bona fide terrorist.

    I’m sorry man, but I get what you’re saying about a property owners rights, but in this case a mall is much too public a place that argument to apply. If I were to buy into that argument then Don could have complained about, and have tossed, every flip-flopped teenage girl wearing those obnoxious statement-across-the-ass sweatpants. It would not be right, but I don’t see how it’s different than a t-shirt that speaks the truth about the Iraqi War.

  45. FAIRLANE: No worries, tio. I’m a Jonestown Super Team fan. If WordPress is monitoring this, me, Kelso of Kelso’s Nuts takes full responsibility for any inappropriate language or comments or insults. I personally guarantee it will not happen again but if a condition of maintain the Superteam site, is restricting my access, I accept that without reservation or argument. There’s too strong a body of work here to put at risk. I’ll take the blame. I’ll pay any fines if I have to.

    Dale, FAIRLANE!

  46. See what you miss when you are flying across the pond??? Well I am glad this is over or someone [read me] might have done something to jeopardize this blog and that would make me personally ill since it is head and shoulders above any other SuperTeam in the blogosphere even the one to which I belong. But don’t go Kelso, please don’t go.

  47. Kelso- They’re not monitoring you, but like all of these services that provide free blogging, other members are allowed to flag your blog.

    Like I said, some Wingnut chick did, some months ago, and I was unable to log in for two days.

    Luckily, they gave it back, but according to their TOS, they don’t have to do so.

    Eventually, I’m going to move Jonestown to its own server.

    Diane- I appreciate that, and I definitely enjoy your Super Team as well.

    The world needs more Super Teams.

  48. FAIRLANE: You are indeed the EMPEROR. In the kingdom of those who will not see you go into everything with your eyes open.

    You’ve got a midas touch is all. At least by my standards.

    Not a word your write is foolishness or without sense even when you delve into the surreal. I appreciate the way you handled the problem here, buddy.

    Alls well that ends well. I am now where I really should have been months ago. I could no longer do this level of work as a one-man band. So, I avoided the Wingnut sites. I did the SABR thing and emphasized what No_slappz did well, not what he did poorly and tried my best to be an all-round good citizen. I’ve fought and argued like crazy with everyone of my regulars and yours. Somehow, I always resolved it and came to the point of view that the question was 50/50 or insoluble, but never had I experienced something like this and I knew it would happen again.

    Your AWARD meant a lot to me and will never come down from it’s spot on my site. I felt, however, that as aggressive as I am, I have my limits and a well-ressoned opposing point of view will usually get me to lay it down before it gets mean.

    I knew what you meant about the service. I just wanted to make sure I had THAT on record so you could show it if necessary to keep the Jonestown Super Team going without interruption.

    It’s all good. I couldn’t be happier at my new spot on my team. They love you, I know, so I’m sure we’ll have some excellent cross-posting and commenting.

    The funniest thing is that, as you know from your visits there, I fit somewhere in the CENTER of the Hellac Party in terms of insanity, vocabulary, and life experience. They are hoping I bring blog traffic! I doubt I’ll bring all that much but I’m not there as a rainmaker, merely as a Contributing Editor. Luckily, I responded to Spartacus’s mall post. A couple of days of drama but I’m where I should be.

    See ya on the Rialto.

  49. Great post – it’s amazing what a slippery slope we’re sliding down and there isn’t enough outrage out there about this sort of thing.

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