The Walk Her Inn in West Allis is facing online backlash over its name, which one Facebook user believes perpetuates "rape culture." The bar features the slogan "Walker her inn, drag her out" on the side of its front door and a picture of a caveman dragging a cavewoman by her hair above the door and on a sign in front of the bar.
The bar is located at 74th and Walker and is the name "Walk Her Inn" is a play on words. It has been named Walker Her Inn since at least 1985.
This, however, appears to be the first time that outrage over the name has hit the media. OnMilwaukee reported on the controversy on Wednesday:
Yesterday, while driving through the neighborhood, Paress Huebner noticed the establishment for the first time, took a photo of the bar's painted sign and put it on Facebook with outraged commentary. The post has since caught the attention – almost entirely negative – from many social media users and the media.
Many responders to the post believe the name suggests the assault of women.
Kristian and Diane Plumeri took over the bar in 2009. OnMilwaukee called Kristian and left a message, but has not heard back from the tavern owner.
OnMilwaukee did not link to Huebner's post or quote from it, and her Facebook privacy settings made it impossible for News/Talk 1130 WISN to see either the post itself or the comments on it.
In an interview with OnMilwaukee, West Allis Mayor Dan Devine seemed to agree with Huebner's Facebook post, telling the publication that, "to be honest [he's] never set foot in there and there's a reason for that."
In a subsequent interview on The Dan O'Donnell Show, however, Devine insisted that this comment did not mean he doesn't frequent Walk Her Inn because he finds its name offensive.
"I do like beer, don't get me wrong," Devine said. "I just have places that I go to and places that I don't and I just don't get out much, but when I do, I've got places I like to go. To me, I look at that place and I don't have anything against it--I wish them well--but it's really just not my kind of place.
"I try to support locally-owned restaurants whenever I can, I try to support local coffee shops whenever I can. Granted, this is a local business, but I think if people are offended by [the Walk Her Inn name], they vote with their feet and they vote with their pocketbooks and they spend their money at some of the other options that we have."
In his OnMilwaukee interview, Devine added:
This is the perfect example of why you need to spend your money in businesses that you want to see in your community like, for West Allis, Westallion Brewing Company or one of our many great restaurants or cafes.
When confronted by this on The Dan O'Donnell Show, though, Devine said he wasn't trying to take business away from Walk Her Inn by actively promoting a less "offensive" alternative.
"In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have specifically mentioned anything specific, but I am a big believer in shopping local," Devine said, adding that he personally doesn't think the bar's name is offensive. "I can see why people are offended by it, but personally it doesn't offend me."
It does, however, offend one Facebook user, and that is enough for three different local media outlets to run stories about a supposed controversy surrounding the bar, thereby magnifying it a thousandfold.
This, sadly, is how the perpetually outraged in society operate:
1. Decide something that has been perfectly acceptable for decades is suddenly unacceptable
2. Find "people on social media" who are now outraged by this thing that is suddenly unacceptable
3. Get the news media to run stories about the "social media outrage" and hound the person or people doing the thing that is suddenly unacceptable
4. Share the news media stories on social media to get more people on social media to be outraged
5. Organize boycotts, protests, negative online reviews, or other bullying of the suddenly unacceptable thing so that the person behind it relents in a desperate attempt at saving their reputation and/or business
6. Get the news media to report on how "the internet" affected societal change
7. Celebrate selves for affecting real change
8. Find a new suddenly unacceptable thing over which to be outraged
In this manner, outrage has become a sort of weapon wielded against anyone or anything that literally anyone finds to be offensive. If even one person on social media (as in the case of Walk Her Inn) voices a grievance, a media eager to promote both controversy and social justice will amplify it without ever stopping to wonder whether that grievance is overblown.
Does any rational person really believe that a cartoon caveman dragging a cartoon cavewoman by her hair (an image that has existed for literally decades if not centuries) promotes a culture of sexual assault? Has anyone ever pulled a date out of Walk Her Inn by her hair because the sign on the door told them to?
Of course not. The very idea is laughable, or at least it used to be, until "the internet" reminded us that it isn't, and it is instead very problematic and offensive.