Special Ed’s, a new brewery opening in the Sacramento, California suburb of Galt, has recently been boasting the catchphrase “Ride the Short Bus to Special Beer” on its products and merchandise. Unsurprisingly, the company and its owners, Edward and Cheryl Mason, are now facing criticism for their insensitivity toward the area’s disabled community, the Sacramento Bee reported earlier this week.
In addition to the brewery’s politically incorrect name and penchant for ableism, Special Ed's was also planning to sell a “Back of the Bus Brown Ale”—an apparent reference to Jim Crow-era segregation. A now-deleted Facebook page also featured beer labels that claimed the company’s product was "’tard tested, ‘tard approved."
People are not happy.
“I’m really embarrassed. I raised my children in Galt,” Tricia Bowden, one of the residents calling for a boycott of the brewery, told the Bee. Bowden’s 22-year-old daughter suffers from autism. “The special education community here is fabulous. My daughter had a wonderful high school experience. This doesn’t represent us, and hopefully it doesn’t represent Ed.”
According to the Bee, the community was originally excited at the prospect of a small brewery opening in Galt but "soon grew angry once details of the business became clear." Though the owner, Ed Mason, plans to continue using the name, he claims he never meant any harm. In the days since the controversy began, he says his family has received death threats and had to file a police report.
“I never wanted the intent to be that I’m insensitive or some of the horrid things I’ve been called today,” he wrote on Special Ed’s now deleted Facebook page. “I just wanted to have some fun with my name.”
Mason told NewsReview.com that “Special Ed” was merely a nickname he earned in 2002 from some co-workers. "“I mean, everyone is taking this way out of context,” he said. “We have a couple adults in our family like that and we love them dearly. They have an extra chromosome and they’re right—that’s the love chromosome."
While Special Ed’s website and social media accounts have all been deleted, a Yelp page for the business still exists, allowing those to voice their opinions on the brewery and subsequent brouhaha.
“Every day, my daughter goes out into the world to try to make her way on her own terms,” one user from Texas wrote on Tuesday. “And every day, I hope against hope that she doesn't run into someone like you, someone who sees her disability as the punchline to a mean-spirited joke. Turns out, that's harder than you might think.”
[via Sacramento Bee]