Photo by Bret Redman.

Arts & Entertainment

Deep Ellum Bars Should Ban the Wearing of Any Hateful Imagery

The one thing being overlooked in the controversy over Double Wide.

Editor’s note: We asked Joe to write this opinion piece after he criticized our article on a controversial incident at Double Wide last week.

Allow me to start this off with several clarifying statements. These statements are all responses to the gut reactions that have been shared over the past days (now weeks) concerning the Double Wide’s handling of two apparently intoxicated men who confronted a patron wearing seemingly racist patches. The two men were kicked out of the Deep Ellum bar, while the patron in the vest was allowed to stay.

  1. I am in no way affiliated with ANTIFA Dallas, the group that has, among other things, called for a boycott of the bar and accused Double Wide of condoning racism.
  2. I am not affiliated with the Double Wide. I’ve never been to Double Wide. I have a lot of friends who are friends of the owner and staff of Double Wide, and they have almost all come out in defense of the bar.
  3. I believe that the Double Wide was correct in kicking out the patrons who were confronting the man wearing the allegedly racist patches, and I also think they were correct in allowing that man to stay.
  4. I do not believe that Double Wide, or its owners and staff, condone or endorse racism or hatred of any kind. I can say this with confidence because I know that my friends who have been defending this place of business would not publicly defend them if they believed otherwise.

Now that that’s out of the way:

Last week, D Magazine posted an article entitled, “A Harbor for ‘Neo-Nazi Scum’ or One of Dallas’ Most Inclusive Bars?” The title of the article immediately struck me as excessively hyperbolic, and upon reading the article, I felt as though it had more than a slight bias in favor of Double Wide, painting the opposition to Double Wide’s actions as too small and disorganized to even remain committed to a planned protest against the bar.

Some have defended the bar by explaining what the SS patch represents in biker culture, suggesting that perhaps that patch, and any of the other seemingly racist patches, were not worn with racist intent. I can’t argue against that point, as I wasn’t there and don’t know the person who was wearing the vest, or “cut,” as it’s known in biker culture.

Unfortunately, this isn’t The Matrix, and we do not get an instant history lesson on biker culture and the appropriation of hateful imagery within that culture when we first stumble upon someone wearing imagery that has also been used with hateful intent. We are only equipped with our prior understanding of the symbolism we are viewing; which, in this case, includes the mass slaughter of millions of people by animals intent on wiping out an entire culture.

The thing that keeps getting drowned out by the people yelling for a boycott of a “Nazi bar” and the people defending their friends is the fact that many people are simply asking Double Wide to implement a “no hateful dress” policy. It probably feels as though doing so would feel like conceding to the ANTIFA protesters, which is why they’ve stopped short doing so.

Even staunch supporters of the bar concede that something could be done to ban hateful imagery on biker vests. While Double Wide can’t inspect every person coming in the door, something could be done if it is brought to the staff’s attention. The bar Reno’s Chop Shop, for example, has a ‘no colors’ policy, meaning no biker cuts. A similar policy at Double Wide could help the issue.

Personally, if I were on staff that night, I would have said, “Sorry those idiots gave you a hard time. Now please remove your cut.”

Obviously, this is an issue that brings out strong emotions on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, in 2016, people with opposing viewpoints on a business’ actions have resorted to “review wars,” where one side of the issue gives 1 star reviews and the other side gives 5 star reviews. For a small business, 1 star reviews hurt, even if they are offset by enough 5 star reviews to not damage that business’ overall rating. Both serve to only misrepresent the actual opinion of that business by the general public.

Here are the two best courses of action I see going forward that will put this issue to bed once and for all:

  1. I am going to contact Facebook and attempt to have all reviews written about Double Wide from Sept. 22 forward removed from the page in order to more accurately reflect public perception of the bar.
  2. I am calling on Double Wide, as well as every bar in Deep Ellum, to implement the following policy:

No biker cuts, racist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise hateful imagery may be worn at this bar. If one of our patrons brings it to our attention that you are wearing an item that they deem offensive, we will ask you to remove that item or leave the bar. We will have the final say as to what will be deemed “offensive” so that this policy is not abused.

“Don’t confront people in public places who are minding their own business” doesn’t need to be stated, it’s just common sense.

Joe Panuska is a Dallas resident. His Instagram is @LifeAfterMagic.


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  • Hannibal_Lecter

    So you’re not a fan of that whole “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” concept, eh?

    • bigheadjoe

      Patron of the bar has a problem, they say something to the staff. Read the article. Every patron should feel comfortable. This is the last time I just repeat things I wrote to people who didn’t read the article. I can’t be any more clear.

    • Pol Pot

      Americans today soft and think everyone have right not to be offended and a right to a safe space. Wish that was way imperialist Americans were acting back during Operation Menu bombing of Cambodian countryside in 1970’s.
      –Brother Number One

  • Pol Pot

    Can you define hateful imagery for me? I know the Supreme Court had a tough time with defining obscenity, but I presume those stodges don’t have your omniscience.

    What about anything with a Pepe the Frog on it? I hear that’s now considered racist.

    Where do things stand with shirts that say Black Lives Matter vs White Lives Matter? Is one OK and the other not? Are they both racist, neither racist, one is the other isn’t? And since there are competing groups that make each of those claims, how do we decide what is and is not officially hateful?

    I have a shirt from a friend’s band (they have even played Double Wide) it has an upside down cross, is that OK in the bible belt or do I need some sort of authorization?

    If I get a T-shirt with a print of a Robert Mapplethorpe work, would the BDSM imagery cause it to be hateful even though Mapplethorpe’s work was clearly pro-homosexuality?

    –Brother Number One

    • bigheadjoe

      Read the article. “Bar will have final say…” etc etc. You are a mighty internet warrior!!!!!

      • Pol Pot

        I am the Original Khmer!! And I advocate for ever glorious agrarian utopian Angkar, furthest thing from internet warrior.

        If bar have final say, then really no change from how things are already. So you just want to get by-line that you can change into wolf at will without noting that your proposed standard is so loose as to have no substance.

  • JamieT

    I blame Toxoplasma gondii for this sort of thinking.

  • bigheadjoe

    The bio line was supposed to say “Joe Panuska is a Dallas resident who can change into a wolf at will.” Sorta bummed that got cut.

  • OldLakeHighlander

    No Shoes, No Shirt, Hateful Images, No Service. There. Done.

  • North_of_LBJ_kYle

    It’s gonna happen. Some whiny, entitled DFW sports fan will ask that a patron wearing apparel for an opposing team is removed from an establishment.

    • bigheadjoe

      Haha. Again, bar gets final say and tells them to shut up. 🙂

      • North_of_LBJ_kYle


  • Chris

    Wait… Wut? This is stupid. Any private establishment can already ask someone to leave. You don’t need ANOTHER official policy for something that already exist.

  • Ean Schuessler

    Scene cuts to a bar full of “anti-hate” groups fighting over which sets of symbols are and are not allowed.

  • Cabe Booth

    Yeah I remember back in 1998 Clearview instituted a no hockey jersey rule (among others) because at the time it was all the rage for the…. um I guess “gangbangers” wear hockey jerseys. When I arrived at my own art show (Art Bar) and was denied entry because I was wearing a Joe Nieuwendyk Stars Jersey ( proud fan) with my date for the evening on my arm???….. I was denied entry to my own fucking art show….. Even the people at the door, who all knew me, said “sorry that’s the policy”. I was flabbergasted … I thought they were kidding until with absolute mortification I realize that they weren’t…. I went back across the street and everyone said you should go yank your fucking artwork off the walls. And I agreed, but I didn’t do it. Because well….number one, I couldn’t gain entry as I had a hockey jersey on..of all ridiculous things. Shortly afterwards the management found out and made a rule that everyone but Cabe couldn’t wear a hockey jersey… which obviously, was a nice tip of the hat …but it didn’t solve the problem. They also gave me a bunch of coupons to Liberty noodles back when it was open and free drink tickets…. But it didn’t change the fact that I was turned away at my own art show ….with a date….. that was over the freaking top fucking embarrassing. And again, ridiculous. And I must say, all those people are my friends to this day and I would never hold them personally responsible for the dress code… or enforcing it, even as ridiculous as it was. They didn’t want to get fired for “not doing their job”. When management found out what “doing their job” affected …they kind of face-palmed themselves unconscious. I think they got rid of the rule altogether pretty soon afterwards. Thing is, I know a hockey jersey isn’t an SS patch….. but you know how many people out there do not know what is Nazi imagery and what isn’t? I do. Because, I’ve painted pictures of the Red Baron and his plane and people have accused me of being a fucking Nazi. “Why do you put all those Nazi images all your paintings and why would you paint a Nazi blah blah blah”? God forbid all the comments I never heard, or were able to defend myself against …or shall I say facts. You know how many times I had to say “no the Red Baron was not a Nazi and the Iron Cross is not a Nazi symbol”? You know how many times have to educate people on World War 1 and World War 2? And if smartphones were around back then I could have easily pulled up a modern German military unit and showed them the exact same freaking emblem on NATO tanks! It is not the job of any business to monitor what people wear. After all we’re not just talking about a Nazi patch here we’re talking about biker history and if people don’t care about history and why something is what it is and they don’t want to listen ….then we’re all fucked. Look, I wouldn’t wear one. But I’m not a biker. I understand the biker history and where it started. People that don’t care? These people get the call the shots just because they don’t give a fuck? or give too much of a fuck? To the point where they don’t want to listen or learn? You really want ignorance to call the shots? I know it’s hard for people to see something and not understand it and then not get angry …because they understand it “as they perceive it”. But who made them the fucking Fashion Police? What isn’t being addressed here is that the left or liberal mentality in it’s extreme?? is just as bad as any other political ideology taken to its limit. If you want people telling you what’s funny what’s not funny what your supposed to find attractive but you can’t find unattractive what you can wear what you can’t wear who you can allow into your restaurant who you can’t?……then god..please “move”…. and yeah, I know that is a very typical response of people that I wouldn’t associate with… but so is telling people that they need to monitor other people. I really think what people here are really forgetting? Is to mind their own business. And if you think your business is about getting into other people’s faces? I’ve got some good targets for you besides a guy drinking quietly at a bar. For all I know?.. the guy was a white supremacist Nazi. And for all you know?… he wasn’t. Bottom line. Telling him to take the patch off doesn’t fucking answer that question. But it does make somebody start acting like a Nazi….. you think Nazi behavior requires that a swastika be involved? Who in their right mind knowingly or ignorantly seeking to institute a similar mindset (and have it be successful) would brand it with such a failed symbol ? A symbol is not powerful until you give it power. Maybe that’s why a lot of people are just rolling their eyes… because they’ve seen worse and they’ve seen this for years and they know it doesn’t mean squat. Seriously, this is a flag burning issue. Free Joey.

  • Jacob

    The problem is, this forces the bar into moral and political debates. For example, someone in the bar is offended by another patron who is wearing a Donald Trump shirt. They notify the bar staff that because of the hateful remarks Trump has made towards women and people of color, they are offended and find this shirt unacceptable. If the bar chooses to allow the person wearing the Trump shirt to stay, then the offended patron will likely go online and have all their friends that have never been to the bar leave dozens of negative reviews and physical threats against the bar and its staff. They will claim that the bar supports Trump and all the negative things he stands for. On the other hand, if the bar chooses to throw out the customer wearing the Trump shirt, that person will likely get online and start a smear campaign against the bar. It’s a lose/lose situation for the bar, who is just trying to operate a legitimate business. I could show up to the bar wearing my favorite Kiss shirt and have no problems, but the next weekend, wearing the same shirt at the same bar get kicked out because someone was offended by the SS bolts in the Kiss logo. The fact of the matter is, it is impossible for a business to guarantee a space in which no matter one is offended by anything they see.

  • PeterTx52

    does the ban include the wearing of Che t-shirts?

    • Jacob

      The ban includes anything that anyone could interpret as offensive. It’s not likely the bar would disagree knowing that if they do, they would be bombarded with negative reviews and physical threats.

      • Then it absolutely bans Che shirts. Guevara was a mass murderer who specifically targeted gay people for execution.

  • William James Ford

    Oh quit fucking crying. It’s a fucking bar. If you don’t like seeing clothing that offends your sorry ass then DON’T FUCKING LOOK! I hate racist pieces of shit, but if some idiot wants to wear a patch that’s his fucking business. Until he starts shit.

    I wear all sorts of shirts and patches that could be considered “offensive” I dare one of you hipster pussies to say or do something about it. Fuck outta here with that shit.

    • Michael Owens

      Perfect response…thank you.

  • Michael Owens

    Maybe every bar in town should provide milk and cookies and coloring books for those “easily offended”…

  • mrEmannE

    Hey bartender, you see that chick over there in the tight jeans and belly shirt? I find her clothes highly offensive. Make her take ’em off!

  • Inspector Todd

    Perhaps if people quit being offended, we wouldn’t need to have asinine discussions like this to begin with.
    BTW, if the bar has “the final say”, which I agree is as it should be…then what’s the problem?

  • Here’s an idea — maybe we should have people who run bars decide what the bar policies are, and not have them decided by know-it-all “reporters” who aren’t even customers of the bar.

  • biffula

    The problem with a blanket ban on attire is who gets to decide what is right and wrong? How long before certain political parties shirts, patches, hats, badges, etc. aren’t allowed? That’s the way democrats would have it. So back off banning. Banning doesn’t work for drugs, alcohol, guns, books, race, religion or even hate.