June 11, 2003


A Danish pizzeria owner who refused service to French and German tourists because their governments didn't back the US-led war in Iraq was convicted of discrimination today.

Aage Bjerre, who owns a pizzeria on western Denmark's Fanoe island, was investigated by police after he wouldn't serve Germans and French.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 11, 2003 01:18 PM

Yeah. Great. What a petty bastard.

Posted by: Rick Squane at June 11, 2003 at 02:03 PM

Petty, yes. Must be conservative voter.

Posted by: Stewart Kelly at June 11, 2003 at 02:09 PM

As owner of the shop he should have the right to decide to whom he serves.... good on ya' Aage!

Posted by: Steve at June 11, 2003 at 02:15 PM

Where do we send money for his legal defense fund? Great Dane indeed.

Posted by: Ricky D at June 11, 2003 at 02:24 PM

Petty is right Rick and Stewart. How dare this bastard stand up for his beliefs. What an absolute prick, to have a morally supportable position and have the gall to actually do something about it. He should be ashamed of himself. Not like those fearless crusaders for truth and justice in Greenpeace. When they descriminate against business it is purely on the basis of their beliefs and they should be commended for it.

Posted by: Todd at June 11, 2003 at 02:56 PM

For Rick and Stewart. Two years ago in Munich my wife was ordered out of a takeaway food shop by its muslim owner because of her sex. How say you guys - was he being petty and should he have been fined or, let off because his beliefs were offended?

Posted by: H R T at June 11, 2003 at 02:57 PM

H R T, of course I agree with you completely. The petty shopowner- a Muslim in your case- should have been fined and made to apologise. He was a jerk and deserved to be treated accordingly.

Posted by: Rick Squane at June 11, 2003 at 03:16 PM

A pity this Great Dane. He probably didn't know how to make a sauerkraut and snail pizza.

Posted by: Wallace at June 11, 2003 at 03:54 PM

Where can we send $$ for Mr. Bjerre's legal defense, indeed.

Posted by: Harry at June 11, 2003 at 03:58 PM

How dare this bastard stand up for his beliefs. What an absolute prick, to have a morally supportable position and have the gall to actually do something about it.
So you're applauding this Danish guy for 'standing up for his beliefs' while condemning France and Germany for standing up for theirs? Hmm, have you ever heard of something called 'hypocrisy'?

Posted by: Gianna at June 11, 2003 at 04:49 PM

Looks to me like he found something within his sphere of interest and acted on it within his sphere of influence.
Petty would be comment such as "Must be conservative voter."
Petty also are those who saw what he was doing and decided to have him punished for it by reporting it to the police (who possibly have more important things to do).

Posted by: Motley Fool at June 11, 2003 at 05:00 PM

Gianna, the important part of the sentance that you might have missed was the "morally supportable" bit. Yeah, I know, stuck there in the middle with all those other letters and punctuation, it could be easily overlooked.

Economic benefit whilst aiding and abetting mass murder and vile and repugnant human rights abuses doesn't really have the same ring to it, doncha'think?

Posted by: Todd at June 11, 2003 at 05:03 PM

Considering that Denmark sent troops to help liberate Iraq, the police action wins the Chris Puplick Award for moral hypocrisy of the highest order.

Posted by: Rod at June 11, 2003 at 05:19 PM

Look....I just can't get past the full synergistic horror of "Danish" and "Pizza." It presents about as appetising an image as "Scottish" and "barbie".

And what are citizens of the nation that invented haute cuisine doing slumming it in some cheapjack, Danish grease-up n'go? Bet they'll be hoping that the French press doesn't run their names as part of some "brave victims of discrimination" piece. The embarrasment of it all....

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at June 11, 2003 at 05:33 PM

The Danes have an army?? Wow, I thought the US funded and ran the entire defense of Europe, and, maybe even the world given enough time. At the end of the day you are legally allowed (as far as I know) to refuse service to customers for a variety of reasons. Nationality isn't one of them. Generally I support his right to serve who he wants - it's his shop after all.

Imagine a world where american tourists are no longer tolerated outside of Florida because the Yanks didn't give Australia comprehensive free trade agreements. Sounds silly does it? No...wait...I'm on to something...hmmm...got to go call someone....

Posted by: Jake D at June 11, 2003 at 05:37 PM

Before people get too upset about the Danish pizza guy, how about the Melbourne bed & breakfast proprietor who refused to accept bookings from American, Israeli and Jewish tourists in protest against the (then) im[pending war in Iraq? Where were all the howls of protest then?

Posted by: Steve at June 11, 2003 at 05:45 PM

What we have here is real, bona fide, squashing of dissent, actual censorship by state action. And the folks who spend squawk because Tim Robbins had to settle for speech at the National Press Club and the Dixie Chicks had to settle for only $14.5MM in album sales are just fine with it. Go figure.

Posted by: T. Hartin at June 11, 2003 at 09:28 PM

Huh? Free speech is putting a sign up in his business, or telling his customers what he thinks of their governments, either of which he was (I assume) free to do.

Refusing them service is discrimination of a form that is unlawful in every western country.

Are you really arguing that would be "censorship" or "squashing (sic) of dissent" to enforce laws prohibiting people from refusing service to, say, blacks or jews?

If not, what's the difference?

Posted by: Mork at June 11, 2003 at 09:50 PM

Yeah, the guy was "making a statement" that I support in principle and he's sure getting some publicity, isn't he? But refusing people service is a clumsy and stupid way to do it. It's just wrong to do that on the grounds of nationality alone.

Putting up some big signs would have been a much better idea - if anyone was offended by them, they could just bugger off and everybody would be happy.

As it is, if I was the Dissident Frogman on holidays or something and was fanging for some pizza, I would be mighty pissed if I was refused service just for being French. I would have loved eating under the signs, though.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at June 12, 2003 at 01:14 AM

But if the Danish pizza-maker had been anti-war, and had refused service to Americans, he would never have been arrested, and all these people who condemn him now for "discrimination" would make him a folk hero, like that arsonist French "farmer" who still hasn't been arrested and continues to be acclaimed at French protests. As for Mork's comment, I don't know what the law is in Denmark, but in the US, in fact, a private person has a perfect right to discrminate, for whatever reason -- it's his constitutional right not to associate with those he doesn't wish to associate with (freedom of association included not associating). It's only illegal for the government, and entities receiving government funds (ie universities that get federal funding), to discriminate on certain bases. Bjorn Staerk quotes a poll of Danes which would seem to indicate that the Danes think the pizza guy has the legal right to serve or not serve whoever he wants in his shop.

Posted by: bluejade at June 12, 2003 at 01:20 AM

Bullshit, bluejade. You need to familiarize yourself with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 201 of which reads:

"Sec. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin."

Let me know if you need help interpreting it!

Posted by: Mork at June 12, 2003 at 01:31 AM

you are right Mork -- I forgot, Title VII applies to privately-owned accomodations as well, thanks to a (rather strained) reading of the Commerce Clause. But as to the general nature of your response, it seems way over the top. Did the tone of my post call for such contempt from you? If you can correct me, that's all to the good. But I don't think I said anything that deserved such mean-spiritedness. Your last line really says more about you than me.

Posted by: bluejade at June 12, 2003 at 03:12 AM

Not to mention... American civil rights statutes only apply to businesses in America. Obviously they have different laws in Denmark. Ideally, the man should be able to refuse service to whomever he pleased for whatever reason he pleased. And ideally his business should suffer in the open market accordingly, like businesses that refuse service to blacks in the US South pre-Civil Rights era surely must have. (At the very least, they weren't earning any income from the potential customers they turned away.) Anyway, now we have laws and things so business owners risk more than income loss if they discriminate on the basis of race or creed or whatever. While this might be a bad thing in the ideal free-market sense, this isn't a perfect world, and everything doesn't work out ideally.

Where I stand on this is... while I applaud this man's support of the coalition actions, I can't help but wish he'd picked some other way of showing his solidarity than being rude to hapless tourists, some of whom might have been inclined to support his views. And I don't think he should have been arrested and convicted; his penalties should have been social and economic. But like I said, Denmark obviously has anti-discrimination laws, and this isn't an ideal world.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 12, 2003 at 04:59 AM

Good to see at least some of the posters are sane, there for a minute I thought I was reading LGF.

Posted by: anony-mouse at June 12, 2003 at 06:47 AM

Every time I hear some lefty use the word "discrimination" I know that I should get out my hypocrisy-meter. It is now such a useless term, that I wonder why anyone uses it, except in the proper sense, ie "Joe Blogs showed taste and discrimination in buying a house in Bellevue Hill and not in Newtown."
What annoys me most about the Danish case is that it shows what has gone wrong with the justice system. The ploice waste their time prosecuting middle class people for thought crimes whilst violent undeerclass criminals can get away with anything with little prospect of being caught.

Posted by: Peter at June 12, 2003 at 09:00 AM

Fair call, bluejade. It was uncalled for, and I apologize.

Posted by: Mork at June 12, 2003 at 10:02 AM

Since when is 'collateral damage' morally supportable? Since Bush said so? Hmm, what does God say? Wasn't it something about "thou shalt not kill"? Or was it "thou shalt not kill (unless liberating people)"? Incidentally, before you accuse me of being an appeaser - there is a difference between 'appeaseement' and 'containment'. And look at what your war has achieved so far: we've lost Saddam and we've lost the WMD. Great, huh?
So, vive la France!

Geoff - what, you don't fancy a rollmops pizza? Surely almost as good as the Aussie-style bacon'n'eggs pizza...or maybe one of those 'burger pizzas' (talk about McMangling!)

Posted by: Gianna at June 12, 2003 at 01:45 PM

Ah, a theological discussion. Leaving aside the many and undoubtedly varied views that any given person might have on what God thinks of anything, I will point out that the original Hebrew word in the ten commandments is more accurately translated as "murder" than "kill", the difference of course being one of intent. Indeed the Mosaic law called for the death penalty as punishment for several offenses, and God actively told the Jews to invade various other places throughout the Old Testament. See the books of Samuel and Daniel for example. So in short, the "thou shalt not kill" argument, while a nice sentiment, falls short as a serious antiwar argument.

So then, onward. Collateral damage, while regrettable, is also unavoidable in any war in which anything bigger than hand-to-hand weapons are used. We can find moral support for using these weapons, however, by remembering that at the end of the day, we save lives by shortening the conflict.

As for appeasement vs. containment, the two become effectively synonymous if you don't enforce your containment. The UN was, for lack of a better term, too pussy to enforce the containment they had decreed, preferring instead to wait for the US and its allies to clean up the mess for them. As for "losing" Saddam, who cares? The point wasn't to catch him, it was to remove him and his family from power. Furthermore I see no problem with assuming he's dead until proven otherwise. And the WMD's? We didn't lose them - they're right over there, see?

*points in the general direction of Damascus*

Yes, that was a joke. I hope.

Posted by: W. at June 12, 2003 at 02:35 PM

interesting, W. so i guess it depends on if you believe in the wrathful Yahweh or the more forgiving peace-love-mungbeans modern God. but as an atheist, i just threw that in there to stir (as is my wont), though i do think whether or not you feel justified in killing someone just depends on which side you are on, doesn't it? that's why the whole question of whether something is 'morally supportable' is problematic. it's pretty obvious the September 11 hijackers felt their actions were 'morally supportable' according to their own paradigm.

and you know, I really don't see that the UN was doing any worse a job of finding the WMD than America is.

Posted by: Gianna at June 12, 2003 at 04:59 PM

Paradigm is a weasel word , let us see.

Science refuses to be fixed in paradigms which illuminates, paradigms are meaningless.

Posted by: d at June 12, 2003 at 05:12 PM

Well of course perspective plays a part. But surely we can't draw any realistic moral parallels between the Sept. 11 hijackers and the ensuing US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The difference here is not so much one of moral supportability, since as you say, this is a slippery concept whose meaning changes from person to person. I think it's more about intent, and the ends people are trying to bring about. Which is not to say that this isn't also a tricky area, but at least it's easier to come to a kind of general consensus without having to quote obscure philosophers from the 15th century.

Thought experiment: the hijackers of Sept. 11 caused roughly 3000 deaths. The US-led invasion of Iraq caused about the same number of civilian casualties, according to recently-released UN figures. Which is worse?

On the surface of course they appear the same, since a dead innocent person is a dead innocent person, but looking a little deeper we can come to some different conclusions. The attacks in NYC targetted civilians, and were specifically designed to cause a shock reaction by doing the most horrific thing imaginable to a noncombatant population. In Iraq, by contrast, we had no reason to go about killing civilians, not merely because we had the world watching everything we did live on CNN, but because we had the means to go directly to military targets and therefore to win the war much more efficiently. One of our major goals was to gain the sympathy and trust of the local populace (see, we did learn a few things from Vietnam ;)). Given all this, it's reasonable to say that very nearly all, if not all, of the civilian casualties in Iraq were brought about accidentally. Our accidental killings while trying to make the world a safer place (and I just know that phrase is going to lead to an argument) vs. hijackers' callous and intentional murders while trying to bring about...well, what exactly? A weakening of our support for Israel perhaps? I'm not entirely sure that such an argument even makes sense, and I don't pretend to understand their reasoning. What does seem inarguable is that their cause was essentially political. So to sum up, these people killed 3000 of us for the equivalent effect of say, staging a sit-in. This is what I mean by intent, and this is why there is no moral equivalence.

As for the UN, the only reason they even got back into Iraq is because we had a few hundred thousand troops sunning themselves in Qatar and waiting for Saddam to twitch the wrong way. But even putting that aside, the UN inspectors had 12 years to do their job, and you're passing pronouncements on US effectiveness after 1 month? Come now, weren't you the same people who were shouting "more time" just last March?

Posted by: W. at June 12, 2003 at 06:07 PM

I disagree with the Dane's actions on moral grounds, but support his right to do it as my political philosophy precludes me imposing my moral philosophy on others.

My moral objection is based on the fact that the Dane was judging people based on their nationality - irrespective of their personal position.

My acceptence of private discrimination is importantly different from govt discrimination because the former only refuses to improve somebody situation (refuse to trade) while the later threatens to worsen the situation (through in jail, kill etc).

Posted by: 24601 at June 12, 2003 at 08:24 PM

W, i agree completely that there's no moral equivalence from our perspective and i'm not 'drawing a moral parallel', my point is purely about perspective. the S11 hijackers thought their actions would be creating a better world for them, just as we think getting rid of psycho fundamentalists will create a better world for us.

Posted by: Gianna at June 13, 2003 at 11:01 AM

Gianna - what an utter load of crap. Getting rid of psycho fundamentalists will mean that we're NOT KILLED by said psycho fundamentalists. Crashing planes into the WTC towers was not an attempt to 'create a better world', but to revel in the glory of killing those you hate. Much like the glee Hitler must have felt when he saw Treblinka functioning at full capacity.

Perspective is the technique of representing three-dimensional objects and depth relationships on a two-dimensional surface. When it comes to what's right and what's wrong, 'perspective' has bugger all to do with anything.

Posted by: Sam at June 15, 2003 at 03:09 AM