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Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2018

I Am Figuratively Burning With Rage Over This Bar’s Refusal to Serve Patrons Who Use the Word “Literally”

A bar in New York’s East Village has chosen the hill they want to die on, and it’s the word “literally.” According to this sign posted in the window of the Continental, if you say the word “literally,” “you have five minutes to finish your drink and then you must leave.” If you start a sentence with the words “I literally,” as if, for example, “I literally do not know why someone would care about this so much,” then, according to the sign, “you must leave immediately!!!”

Apparently, there’s no limit on exclamation point usage or overreactions in The Continental.

The tweet that sent the sign viral describes it as tongue in cheek, but I find myself not caring about the logistics of actually booting patrons from the bar vs. just expressing extreme annoyance.

Instead, I wonder why this word is so offensive to the owner of this bar. Sure, it’s overused, but by whom?

This sort of language and behavior policing is reminiscent of the horrible restaurant that recently said they’d require a doctor’s note from anyone requiring gluten-free items.

Obviously, to start, that completely ignores Celiac sufferers and those otherwise intolerant of or sensitive to gluten or other elements of wheat. But even if we’re just talking about a preference based on a fad diet, the reaction to the very word gluten is weirdly and disproportionately railed against. When Atkins, for example, became popular, we didn’t deride the idea and demand doctors’ notes. Instead, we started putting bacon on everything down to our t-shirts.

An aversion to gluten, on the other hand, is largely associated with women. Lettuce wraps and gluten-free toast have unrealitstic but pervasive feminine connotations. As someone with a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, I can tell you that when I have to state my food-related intolerance, I get approximately 1,000,000,000 times the eye-rolls, along with waiters’ and baristas’ opinions about whether that is or is not a real thing (it is) than, say, my lactose-intolerant friends.

The same goes for the word “literally,” as well as the condemnation of the world’s “kardashianism.” I’m no fan of the Kardashian family’s work. I also railed against the bastardization of the word “literally,” and mourned the day its actual definition changed to mean the literal opposite of its original intent.

And yes, I do acknowledge this man’s right to ban whatever words he wants from his bar. If I had a bar, I might ban any dude who uttered “Well, actually” or, you know, harassed or assault other patrons. On the scale of social ills, those are the ones I personally would prioritize. To each their own, I suppose.

(It should be noted that the owner, who–in things you cannot make up–is a white guy named Trigger, has in the past been accused of implementing a racist door policy. That is not within his rights as a business owner, obviously.)

Still, while it’s within his right to ban speech from his bar, it’s within our right to question the motives. In this case, they seem infuriatingly transparent.

But if you do want a place free from the specifically gendered use of the word “literally,” you’d better get on it. According to the internet, the Continental is scheduled to close this summer. I can’t possibly imagine why.

(via GrubStreet, image:y Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock)

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