Amid Outrage, ‘Special Ed’s’ Considers Name Change
GALT, Calif. — A brewery that sparked online outrage for its name, slogan and merchandise appearing to mock people with developmental disabilities was vandalized this week, even as one of its owners said he was considering a name change.
Ed Mason, the co-owner of Special Ed’s Brewery, said two rocks were thrown through a window at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, shattering it completely. Mason said one or more vandals also tried to throw more rocks but missed the window.
By Thursday morning, the window was boarded up, but shards of glass were still scattered across the sidewalk and street. Galt police Chief Tod Sockman said surveillance video captured the incident but no one has been arrested so far.
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Following the incident, Mason said he was planning to change the provocative name for the business, which sells brewing supplies and will eventually include a brewery. At the store, Mason had already whited out the words “Special Ed’s” both on the banner hanging inside the window and on a city alcohol license posted in the window to the right of the entrance.
Mason said he had narrowed down the new name to four options but declined to reveal them to The Sacramento Bee.
“Two of the names are a little bland and two are a bit edgy,” Mason said.
The business’ name and related materials — including the slogan “Take the short bus to special beer” and ” ‘tard tested, ‘tard approved” — touched off a firestorm of complaints and boycott calls on Facebook and Twitter. The business also promoted a proposed beer, Back of the Bus Brown Ale, that appeared to refer to Jim Crow-era segregation.
Mason said he met Monday night with several Galt residents concerned about the name.
“I think we can turn this around,” Mason said. “So many people have accused me of apologizing just to save face. That’s nowhere near the truth. I’m just trying to do the right thing.”
Tricia Bowden, one of the Galt residents who criticized the name, said she met with Mason on Monday. Bowden’s 22-year-old daughter, Kristina, has autism.
“I told him he offended a lot of people and it’s going to take them a while to get over it,” Bowden said. “I do believe and appreciate that he’s trying to the best of his ability and that’s all we can ask.”
Bowden, a beer lover herself, said she will patronize the business if Mason demonstrates he’s sincere about moving forward. Bowden said she sampled Mason’s beer on Monday and thought it tasted good.
But that doesn’t mean the tensions have calmed. Bowden said she delivered two chocolate milkshakes to the brewery on Wednesday, but when she saw the window and talked to Mason, he placed the blame on her supporters.
“I told him no one I love or support would do something like this,” Bowden said. “I also told him, you need to make a public apology. You need to look everyone straight on and tell them what you learned and then move on.”
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