By Jayme Poisson
The “Half-Breed” burger and “The Dirty Drunken Half-Breed” burger had been staples on the menu at Holy Chuck Burgers for about seven months. Last week, after one customer’s objection swelled into a larger protest, the shop was inundated with phone calls and online criticisms.
Co-owner Bill Koutroubis told the Star on Wednesday that he never intended to offend anyone, and neither he nor his partner realized the term is considered a racial slur.
“To racially slur an ethnicity in a multicultural society, it’s the totally wrong thing to do,” said Koutroubis, clearly upset. He added that his background is Greek and that he would never knowingly insult another cultural group.
“We apologized on Twitter and again I reiterate the apology . . . It was never meant to be malicious; it was just an innocent play on words on our part.”
Back in December, local Geoff King flagged Holy Chuck’s Twitter account about the offensive nature of the term. The restaurant responded by saying that wasn’t how they saw it, and Koutroubis said Wednesday they didn’t look up the word afterwards.
“The term ‘half-breed,’ if you look it up in just about any dictionary, is really a negative, disparaging and offensive term used to describe people of mixed ancestry, specifically people of mixed indigenous and non-indigenous ancestry,” explained Ryerson University professor Pamela Palmater.
“Now add dirty and drunken to the term half-breed and it takes it to a much higher level in terms of the level of insult that you’re talking about.”
For the burger with extra toppings they chose “drunken,” because the veal cheek vino chili topping has alcohol. And, “dirty,” because it’s messy.
He undoubtedly heard the slur and thought it would be "funny" to use it. Which makes this another example of hipster racism. Then he got schooled by the critics.
But at first that wasn't enough. When people told him the names were slurs, he said he didn't see it that way and didn't look them up. He obviously didn't care about anyone's feelings. Only when he received a firestorm of protests did he remove the items and apologize.
So, to review: Koutroubis intentionally chose offensive names. He stuck with them when he was told they were offensive. He changed them not because he eventually realized the harm, but because they were hurting his business.
Sounds like a typical conservative to me. He doesn't let facts get in the way of his opinions. As with a bad child or dog, you generally can't reason with these people. You have to punish them, teach them a lesson, before they get the message.
For more Stereotype of the Month entries, see Echo's "Weekend Warrior" Line and Indian Chief Bust at White Faux Taxidermy.
Below: "Bill Koutroubis, co-owner of Holy Chuck restaurant, says he took the items dubbed 'The Half-Breed' and 'The Dirty Drunken Half-Breed' off the menu (now hidden under white tape on the sign) after learning of the term's derogatory connotations. The Twitter user who first brought it to the restaurant's attention months ago wonders why they didn't look up the meaning immediately." (Jayme Poisson/Toronto Star)