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Arlington’s Regulatory Fear & Loathing Spreads to Beloved Business

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DrafthouseArlington County Board Members have stayed conspicuously silent through Arlington Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman’s protracted effort to enforce the letter of Arlington’s regulations above all bounds of common sense. Artman says complaints from citizens don’t mean anything. So far, only Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy has been willing to speak out.

I have to wonder if that silence has sent the message that Arlingtonians have a green light to use the regulatory process to intimidate whatever business they please. ArlNow.com is reporting that some Columbia Pike residents want to shut down the beloved Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse after one customer was subjected to (horror of horrors) … a rap song with bad words:

“Please advise when license is up for renewal. I will object. STRONGLY,” she wrote. “Have spent too many years volunteering in this community on civic association, Arlington Civic Federation, ACDC… to have this kind of representation in our neighborhood.”

“Ok, so I am a dem, tell me all about our civil rights and freedome of speech. But I too have a right to not be offended when I visit a local establishment I have otherwise supported for the 23 years I have lived here,” she concluded. “What is next, porn tapes on the TV at the Grill?”

Pike Wire reports the person is an Arlington County Democratic Committee official. To recap, in the last year alone, Arlington government officials have harassed Wag More Dogs, Screwtop & Bakeshop, Westover Market & Samuel Beckett’s. And those are just the ones that have come out publicly – I’ve heard other businesses complain behind the scenes but haven’t said anything publicly for fear of reprisal.

After the messy departure of the county manager last year, you have to wonder if the County Board had been hoping this controversy would quietly fade away. How’s that working out?

  • Catzmaw

    I read the whole story and the accompanying links to the online discussions that followed and was utterly shocked that this person Carole so casually decided to go after the license of the Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse because – horrors! – some bartender accidentally plugged his personal iPhone playlist into the Drafthouse’s system and it played a couple of Tupac Shakur rap songs.  Oh, the humanity.  

    Can someone PLEASE remind the folks in regulatory land that the people affected by their zealotry ARE real people and they lose REAL money and their REAL livelihoods are threatened by this type of grandstanding and over-regulation?  So somebody got offended by the content of a couple of songs.  So what?  The whole attack had a vague racist tint to it, although I’m sure Carole considers herself not to be a racist.  All the histrionics about the demise of civilization because someone played a song containing offensive language … the implication seems to be that playing such language will bring bad elements – minority gangsta types?  Maybe Carole ought to reexamine her assumptions about music and its relationship to certain members of society.  Plenty of middle class kids of every color and creed listen to this stuff.  

  • the parody image of Arlington as “Communist Country.” It needs to stop. Immediately.

  • at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, not all “G” or “PG” or even “PG-13” rated? Gasp, what’s Arlington coming to?!?!? LOL

  • kindler

    …of the tone of over-the-top rhetoric and to-the-death politics that a lot of people are talking about changing.

    I mean, if you want to complain about a business, stop going to it, and even encourage others to stop going to it, more power to you.  But to threaten to shut it down?

    That would be about as outrageous as a state attorney general pursuing a fraud investigation against a university for engaging in climate science.  And no one would be psychopathic enough to do something like that, right???

  • listlady

    an unfortunate outburst by one disgruntled person. Like so many initially small incidents, this one has taken on an overhyped second life in cyberspace. The complainer and the business owner have talked and apparently come to closure. Everyone else — especially those who weren’t there and are just getting third-hand versions — should really calm down and move on.