A gay shop owner demanded that a group of anti-abortion activists leave his Seattle coffee shop last week because he was offended by their beliefs, as can be seen in a video of the incident posted online that has generated a large and growing number of views.
The Washington Times reported that members of the activist group Abolish Human Abortion entered Bedlam Coffee on Oct. 1 to order drinks after distributing anti-abortion materials in the vicinity. Within a short time they were confronted by the owner who had stumbled upon some of the group’s pamphlets and proceeded to launch into a loud tirade in which he demanded they leave his establishment. From the Washington Times:
“I’m gay. You have to leave,” owner Ben Borgman said in the video.
“Are you denying us service?” Mr. Davis [a member of Abolish Human Abortion] asked.
“I am. Yeah,” Mr. Borgman replied.
Borgman then held up what appears to be a piece of the group’s materials and went on to say, “This is offensive to me. I own the place. I have right to be offended.”
The shop owner is seen to ask loudly if the activists would tolerate him engaging in a sex act in front of them, suggested that he’d perform acts on Jesus Christ – “He’s hot.” – and repeatedly demanded that they exit. The group complied promptly.
The Washington Times article includes text of a response posted by Borgman to his shop’s Facebook page that now appears to have been deleted:
“In the end, it’s all about context,” the owner wrote. “Everything is context. Out of context a comment can serve any argument. Take for example the phrase ‘I will bring my boyfriend out here and f- him in the a—.’ out of context it could mean a slew of things. It’s delivery in this case was meant to shock and repulse the audience. Out of context it could be labeled a perversion, or a kink depending how you personally couch the subject. In context it was a response, a response to being shocked and repulsed. A revenge you could even call it, a weakness demonstrated in the typical, they hurt me, I will hurt them fashion.”
The 52-year-old owner said that his full exchange with the activists included one of the activists denying that graphic anti-abortion materials were their own.
Mr. Borgman also said that anti-abortion imagery was hidden within his shop.
“They were ready with that camera,” the owner wrote. “I was baptized Catholic, Roman Catholic actually, I’ve been to a few bible studies, read the entire book, more than once. To my understanding, and to speak in the religious vernacular; these people are working for Satan. The great trickster has deluded them into believing that hate is love, that rage is peace, and that lies are truth. The God I knew, the Jesus I was taught about would absolutely never ever print a poster with a hideous dead baby representation at ‘what was clearly meant to insinuate’ at the hands of gays … suffice to the say the poster was gross, and the text on the back? Holy cow, whoever wrote that is in a lot of pain. I spoke to them in their own language.”
Although conservatives have argued in support of the shop owner’s right to deny service, a principle that was front and center in the State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers case, the apparent hypocrisy here has ignited viral attention to the video. It’s also probable that the actual manner of Borgman’s denial may not be the kind of civil refusal most had in mind. You can watch the very NSFW video of the confrontation below to judge for yourself.