Friday, May 14, 2010

Gay Dogs Not Welcome?

A blind man with a guide dog was refused entry to a restaurant because a waiter thought his partner, Chris Lawrence, said she wanted to bring a gay dog into a restaurant.

The way the article phrases the situation, it comes across as if bringing any other dog into the restaurant would have been fine, but a gay dog? Not on.
"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog," the statement said.
If that were the case, that would surely be the most ridiculous example of homophobia anyone had ever seen. I'm going to give the staff at the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and assume that the article is merely clarifying what the waiter thought he had heard and that the dog's sexuality had nothing to do with the issue, only whether or not it was a guide dog.

I think this is a nice example of a lack of critical thinking.

A guide dog is typically easy to spot: they wear special harnesses, to allow the blind person they are guiding to easily sense what the dog is doing. The dog is typically a Labrador, which is fairly distinctive. The final clue is that the owner is blind.

Granted, there are different degrees of blindness and not all blind people wear sunglasses and carry white canes, but the combination of Labrador and person whose eyes don't seem to focus on what is in front of them should set off enough mental alarms to start anyone thinking.

On top of the visual clues, we also have what the waiter heard. A diner telling a waiter they would like to bring their gay dog into the restaurant is not, I don't think, an every day request. Surely it would make the waiter curious enough to wonder to themselves; along the lines of "Why has this patron mentioned that their dog is gay? How can a desexed dog be gay? Perhaps I have misheard. I will ask for clarification about the situation."

It seems no such thought process occurred.

The manager of the restaurant also told the blind man and his partner that the dog could not be brought inside without permission from the police. I'm not sure where this rule could possibly have come from. After all, the restaurant displays a "guide dogs welcome" sign.

I'm surprised that at this point that the couple hadn't left to try their luck at a more reasonable restaurant, but they persevered enough for the manager to say that the chef was allergic to dogs, so the dog wouldn't be able to enter the premises. Unless the chef was going to come out to pat the dog in the dining area, rather than stay in the kitchen, or the waiter was planning on bringing the dog into the kitchen, I can't see how this is more of an issue than if a dog were to pass by the front of the restaurant.

Hopefully this sort of miscommunication between people and misinterpretation of the law needn't occur in future. Perhaps if Ms Lawrence had pointed at the "guide dogs welcome" sign as she explained the situation a second time, the waiter would have understood. In this case he would have either allowed the dog inside, showing that it had been an innocent misunderstanding.

Or he would have continued to bar the dog from entering despite knowing it was a guide dog, showing that he was just being an inconsiderate twit.*


* Excuse my french.

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