UPDATED: The sign outside Roots Bistro today, Monday, carries the following apology: "Sorry a million times over, Houston." See next page for more.
The last time anyone found a domestic violence joke funny was during an episode of The Honeymooners, and those were dark times, America. However, one Houston restaurant still finds the topic hilarious nearly 60 years later.
Roots Bistro, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant on Lower Westheimer, ran the following sign on its marquee this weekend: "Beer should be like violence: domestic." Although a manager would later claim the sign was only up for 10 minutes, it immediately sparked outrage across the Internet, on Twitter and on Facebook.
"Shame on you for that sign," wrote Elizabeth Hilts on Roots Bistro's Facebook page in only one of a flood of comments. "Shame, shame, shame."
Above her on the restaurant's Facebook page, Stephen Madden had written: "Recommendation: Take the sign down, apologize and contact HAWC for badly needed training on the horrors of domestic violence."
When contacted about the sign and its intentions, a manager on duty who identified himself as Kenneth offered the following explanation: "That sign is not up now. It was up literally for 10 minutes and it was pulled down."
"We'll go on the Internet and look at other businesses and what they post on their signs," Kenneth said. "Another business had posted it," Kenneth continued, and the employee who put together Roots Bistro's marquee apparently took that as a cue that the message was somehow acceptable.
"Obviously no one here would condone any type of violence, domestic or otherwise," Kenneth said, although he couldn't explain why no one thought the sign was tacky, tasteless or offensive until a customer dining on the patio pointed it out.
He did claim, however, that the restaurant actively supports local non-profits like the Santa Maria Hostel, which provides chemical dependency treatment programs for low-income women.
"Everyone makes mistakes," said Kenneth. "We completely deserved the backlash, and I can't be mad at anyone but myself."
This apologetic demeanor isn't in keeping with Roots Bistro's next marquee message, put up after the domestic violence "joke" was taken down.
"Seriously, focus your energy on equal rights," the new, curiously defensive marquee read.
Andrea Greer of the blog Nonsequiteuse was unimpressed by the new sign, writing: "The tone of this sign, needless to say, doesn't suggest genuine contrition so much as 'get over it, ladeez, we're just making a joke, so focus on what really matter, 'mkay?'"
Greer finished: "I'm pretty sure Roots Bistro has now lost the benefit of doubt with most people who see this."
Meanwhile, according to a Senate judiciary report, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States -- more even than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner, although low-income women are at a three-times higher risk.
One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States.
UPDATE ON FOLLOWING PAGE.
Roots Bistro replaced its second "equal rights" sign with the above sign on Monday morning. In the meantime, the restaurant's original "domestic violence" sign was featured everywhere from Salon and Jezebel to The Daily Mail and MSN.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.