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Shawn Vestal: Spokane Daiquiri Factory owner consistently did the wrong thing

It would not have happened to a nicer guy.

When the deputies came to put a stake in the heart of the Spokane Daiquiri Factory, it had long since ceased being a matter of one ignorant rape joke. That controversy might well have subsided, had the guy who owned the place done the simple, obvious, decent thing. And, had decency not been a good enough reason to do that, a self-interested business owner might have simply recognized the chance to make the most of all the attention he was getting and pretended to be decent. He could have spun that manure into great PR: We’ve changed the name. We made a mistake. We’re very sorry.

Instead, Jamie Pendleton doubled down. He fought back. He went after his critics with a stupefying lack of class. By the time he begrudgingly changed the name of his drink, weeks later, he was done for.

And so it was, for the first time I can think of, nearly everyone cheered the failure of a downtown business.

It’s possible that Pendleton’s eviction had little to do with the uproar over Date Grape Koolaid and his subsequent spiral of self-destructive stupidity. It might be that his financial situation was already bad or precarious enough – there is always more to every story. Perhaps a business model based on cheap shots and boozy Slurpees didn’t appeal. But the wave of negative sentiment put the bar on its heels immediately and it never recovered.

Is it necessary to shed light on why naming an alcoholic drink Date Grape Koolaid was so reprehensible? I’d like to think not, but the chorus of denial over the effort to improve the handling of sexual assault on college campuses provided a depressing reminder that it just might be. Dismissive or ignorant ideas about youth culture, about drinking, about “grievance industries” have flooded the conservative media lately, all with the basic underlying presumption that rape is not underreported, as everyone who knows anything about the crime would tell you, but actually being blown out of proportion. A big part of that argument is that drunken hookup culture – the inebriated and blameless coupling of kids – is being redefined as rape.

This is as dumb and reality-detached as it comes. The truth is precisely the opposite: Rape and other aggressive behavior on the rape spectrum has long been incorrectly defined as merely drunken hookup culture. Certainly consensual drunken hookups are and have always been common. But there is a deep tradition among men that makes a strategic connection between booze and sex, a very rapey tradition that is treated as more or less normal in certain circles.

Almost all of us men, I’d guess, were advised at some point in our young lives – probably by a slightly older young man – to get her drunk. All of us have heard stories of drunk girls and young women being raped and assaulted, though it is rarely called or considered rape by the men telling the stories. It was considered sport.

The notion that someone would name a drink after this – at a bar that celebrates getting blasted on strong, fruity drinks – was disgustingly apt.

The Daiquiri Factory opened in February, and the Date Grape furor followed immediately. A group of local protesters, led by a young activist named Taylor Malone, raised hell about it. Pendleton, judging mostly by his activity online, quickly adopted the mantle of victim, which he has clung to passionately ever since.

He took aim, classlessly, at Malone, encouraging his supporters to go after her in nasty, personal ways on Facebook. Pendleton’s friends responded to that and similar posts in the most odious, swinish manner.

All of which says nothing about other issues swirling around the place, from the rent to the decibel level of the music to Pendleton’s lack of consideration for his downtown neighbors. He has hung on and clung on. His landlord sued to evict over unpaid rent, and he tried to rally his supporters to raise $30,000 on his behalf to forestall the eviction.

His supporters – one imagines this must be an exceedingly tiny group – didn’t get it done.

On Saturday, the Factory was open, advertising $1 beers. By Monday, the deputies were locking the place up, and Pendleton still wasn’t giving ground.

He predicts he’ll win in court and be back in business downtown. He has suggested that he might reopen somewhere else. One imagines this won’t happen, but if it does, here’s hoping he’s wrong about the welcome he would receive anywhere else in town.

Heaven knows he’s been wrong about everything else.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@spokesman.com. Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.

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