Texas Store Goes Viral for ‘No Democrates Allowed’ Sign

no democrates allowed

Facebook/Zach Snyder R&R Appliances in Abilene, Texas, went viral for a sign that reads, "No Democrates Allowed."

An appliance repair shop in Texas is grabbing attention online because of a sign in the front parking lot that indicates what sort of customers are not welcome at the establishment. The owner of R&R Appliances in Abilene posted a sign that reads, “No Democrates Allowed.”

Democratic voter Zach Snyder snapped photos of the store and shared them on Facebook on December 11. His images have since circulated widely online and the term “Democrates” was trending nationally on Twitter on December 14.

The Hays County Democratic Party, based in San Marcos, Texas, was among the organizations to share the picture on social media. The group poked fun at the misspelling with a caption reading, “R&R Appliances in Abilene apparently doesn’t want Democrates to visit their classy store. Is Socrates allowed?”

George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, former senior counselor to President Donald Trump, was among those who shared the picture on Twitter. He responded to someone who had asked “what’s a Democrate?” Conway’s answer was, “A box of Democrats?”

Here’s what you need to know:

The Store Owner Says He Believes the 2020 Election Was Stolen & Doesn’t Want ‘Anything to Do’ With Democrats


rr-appliances.business.siteA screenshot from the website for R&R Appliances in Abilene, Texas.

The owner of R&R Appliances, Gary Rutledge, confirmed to local ABC affiliate KTXS-TV that he will not serve Democrats. “I have the right to freedom of speech, I’ve given fair warning. Don’t come to my store,” he said. He told the TV station he believes those on the political left stole the 2020 election. “I don’t have Democrats, I just don’t want to be around them, don’t want anything to do with them,” he said. Rutledge added he may fix the spelling of his sign but that it will remain in place.

R&R Appliances is located at the intersection of Walnut Street and North 10th Street in Abilene, according to the company website. The site says it is an appliance store and includes a phone number, but there is no other information listed. The company name also appears to include a typo on the website; it says “R@R” instead of “R&R.”

It’s unclear how long Rutledge has been in business. The company does not come up on the Abilene Chamber of Commerce website. It also does not come up on the Texas Comptroller website, which is the state agency in charge of collecting taxes.

According to a profile on Groupon, R&R Appliances is known in the area for selling small appliances at lower prices. The company is described as a “trading post” on the app.

Refusing Service to People Based on Political Affiliation Is Generally Legal

Snyder wrote on his Facebook post that he confirmed with the business owner that the “No Democrates Allowed” sign was not some sort of prank. According to Snyder, the owner said he would not sell to Democrats. Misspelling aside, the owner actually does have a legal right to refuse service to someone based on their political party affiliation.

This exact topic made national headlines in 2018 when then-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service at a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, called the Red Hen, according to The New York Times. The co-owner of the establishment, Stephanie Wilkinson, explained in a Washington Post editorial that she refused to serve Sanders because Wilkinson disagreed with the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. She wrote, “Faced with the prospect of serving a fine meal to a person whose actions in the service of our country we felt violated basic standards of humanity, we balked.”

The executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Reginald Shuford, explained to USA Today at the time that political parties are not considered protected groups. “A restaurant can refuse to serve someone on the basis of political affiliation or disagreement,” Shuford said. She explained that one exception to this rule would be if the business owner was actually discriminating based on race, gender, ethnicity or religion but was trying to use political affiliation to disguise it.

The Washington Post explained in 2016 that some local governments may pass laws banning discrimination based on political party. Washington, D.C., has such a law on the books. But as the newspaper pointed out, these specific statutes are rare.

Commenters Joked About Whether Democrates Was a Reference to a Greek Philosopher

The sign barring “Democrates” from entering R&R Appliances inspired many jokes from online commenters who wondered whether Democrates was an ancient Greek philosopher. The Hays County Democratic Party questioned whether Socrates was also banned from the store.

One Twitter user cited a pre-Socratic philosopher named Empedocles in her remark: “Oh goodness. Democrates is going to be heartbroken. I know he had his eye on that stove sitting right there. I wonder if he can pretend he’s Empedocles and snatch it up. #PhilosophicalProblems.”

Another joked, “sure but Aristotle can waltz right on in.”

One user shared a photo of a painting by Jacques Louis David called “The Death of Socrates” along with the caption, “#Democrates refused to drink poison when asked.”

Another added, “Attention #Democrates: Do not bring Plato” along with a picture of a child’s Play-doh set.

The original photo also inspired a meme featuring Rudy Giuliani. One user inserted the former NYC mayor standing at a podium in front of the “No Democrates Allowed” sign.

He followed that with a second meme showcasing Guiliani standing at a podium with a Star Wars background captioned, “Here’s rudy in 10 years.”

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there really was a Greek philosopher named Democritus who has been remembered as a rival of Aristotle. Stanford describes Democritus as the “laughing philosopher” who valued “cheerfulness” and was credited as “one of the two founders of ancient atomist theory.” The encyclopedia mentions that work done by Democritus may be wrongly attributed to “an otherwise unknown philosopher ‘Democrates.'” A Wikipedia page for Democrates describes him as a “Pythagorean philosopher” but there is no source listed to confirm this statement.

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