The only rule of making jokes about domestic abuse is that you shouldn’t make jokes about domestic abuse. One Glasgow bar doesn’t seem to have got that particular memo though and used this week’s release of blockbuster fetishfest Fifty Shades of Grey as the set-up for some shite patter about giving out “free gaffa tape” to “shut her up”.
On Wednesday, Alfies Bar in Yorkhill used their social media channels to share a photo of a board outside their pub, with the boast that they “couldn’t resist” doing so. We’re not quite sure of the reason for it but probably something about “banter” and “freedom of speech”. And maybe shameless misogyny too, because – as everyone knows – the subject of silencing women with gaffer tape is a goldmine of hilarious one liners. On Friday afternoon, the internet caught up with this and images of the sign went viral.
As of 5pm – just as the story was breaking on Twitter – there was no evidence of the board in the vicinity of the pub and bar staff were pleading ignorance and refusing to comment. It’s currently unclear at what time it was removed. However, despite taking the sign down, the owner of Alfies Bar has accused critics of a “witch hunt” – which seems a bit weird given he’s the one wanting to tie women up – and dismissed it as a harmless joke.
“It’s my belief that we’ve not done anything wrong to be perfectly honest. It was actually a joke,” he said over the phone. “The press speculation about this at the moment has obviously been a witch hunt.”
A statement is set to follow later this evening on the bar’s Facebook page. All bets are off on how many Je suis Alfie references it contains as they inevitably mount a passionate defence of the freedom to have tedious gags about getting women to “shut up”. If they want to come out of this with a shred of credibility, then perhaps Glasgow’s self-proclaimed “best West End student bar” should take a step back, have a think about why the board maybe wasn’t so funny after all, and get to work on rewriting that statement.
Addendum: Alfies Bar published an official statement at 21:25 on Friday 20 February which can be read on their Facebook page here