It's hard to find something more offensive to women than the alleged behavior of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. The former Democratic congressman has been accused by more than a dozen women of making wildly inappropriate sexual comments, groping them, and trying to force himself on them physically – sometimes with the infamous "headlock." It's disgusting; it's illegal and the only person who seems not to understand how awful it is is Filner himself.
That was until Hooters, a restaurant – or, rather, "restaurant" – put up signs saying Filner was not welcome there. The signs, downloaded from the website of conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck, say:
This establishment recognizes that we all have political differences, and we serve people from all walks of life. We also believe it is imperative for people to have standards. The Mayor of San Diego will not be served in this establishment. We believe women should be treated with respect.
The cheeky point – that yes! even we, "Hooters," an establishment named for a 14-year-old boy's moniker for women's breasts, a place where women serve men while wearing tight T-shirts and streetwalker-short orange shorts, yes, even we find Filner offensive – is almost as offensive as Filner himself. First of all, it's not a serious defense of the women Filner allegedly harassed and molested, and it's definitely not a defense of the dignity of women in general. It's a cheap marketing stunt that seeks to make the chain's degrading treatment of women seem somehow acceptable or quaint in comparison with Filner. Sure, the sign suggests, they may be a poor man's strip joint masquerading as a lunch spot, but they draw the line at putting our waitresses into a headlock and running our slimy tongues on their faces.
The signs in general are amusing in theory, but in practice make little sense. Any establishment might find itself in legal trouble for refusing service to an individual who is not a specific threat. And it's hard to imagine that Filner would be so foolish to enter a place like Hooters, unless he's building an insanity defense. But Hooters surely knows it is not in a position to lecture anyone on showing women respect. It's reminiscent of when former Miss America Vanessa Williams was pressured into giving up her crown when nude photos surfaced of her – photos released without her consent. It was a terrible thing to happen to the lovely and talented Williams (who since has built an impressive career as an actress and singer), but the hypocrisy by the pageant patrol was stunning. An operation that judges women on how they look in a swimsuit and high heels, and which once announced the weights and measurements of contestants, finds it immoral that a woman was photographed nude? Seriously?
Filner's judgment will not happen at a pageant or certainly at the pageant's fine-in version, Hooters. It will happen in a courtroom. And that's the way to ensure dignity for women.