|Pak-N-Sak store in Corbin, Kentucky|
A Kentucky convenience store has seen a downturn in business after rumors spread on social networks that it refused to serve U.S. military personnel. The owner of the Sak-N-Pak store in Corbin, Kentucky, is from India.
Did racism and misguided patriotism, fueled by the Web, bring harm to a business? Sure looks that way. How to deal with such a problem? We would suggest a lawsuit.
Store owner Danny Patel is a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country for 22 years. His store, Patel says, has always served military personnel. In fact, Patel's daughter is in the ROTC program at Corbin High School.
The story is a sign that quite a few Americans are willing to believe the worst about people who look different from them. Reports Michele Baker, of the Corbin Times-Tribune:
A Corbin business has suffered a downturn due to an apparently false rumor circulated on social media outlets that the owners refused to serve uniformed soldiers.
Since last weekend, the rumor has spread via Facebook and Topix posts involving Danny Patel, who owns the Sak-N-Pak station on Cumberland Falls Highway near the Root Beer Stand.
Patel, who is from India, said he found out about the rumors Saturday.
“Someone is lying. It did not happen and it is very upsetting,” Patel said. “I have no trouble serving anyone in the military.”
The rumor had no trouble spreading. Reports Baker:
Corbin Police Chief David Campbell said his department has received numerous calls about the alleged incident.
“We have had a dozen calls this morning (Monday) and we are trying to verify the allegations. We are trying to stop the rumors,” Campbell said. “This is a civil matter and if it did happen, the victims can seek civil action. If someone feels they have been discriminated against, they can call the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Attempts to contact the servicemen who were allegedly refused service have been unsuccessful.
The police chief is right, we think, about the need for a civil action. An enterprising lawyer should take this case on a contingency basis and help Mr. Patel teach some thugs a much-needed lesson. Comments on message boards and the like leave a digital footprint, and an attorney should be able to employ a Web sleuth to help determine where the rumors originated. Our guess is that Patel could wind up with a jury award, or hefty settlement, that would send a message that such shenanigans are not be tolerated.
Is there an attorney with a spine who would be willing to stand up for important civil rights? Let's hope that Mr. Patel finds out in the affirmative.
Rumors regarding servicemen apparently are common on the Web. Our guess is that such ugliness originates with conservative posters:
Allegations of business owners refusing to serve soldiers are rampant on the Internet. Snopes — a site that debunks urban legends — cites numerous cases involving fabricated stories about soldiers who were refused service. Most of the fabrications involved business owners who were minorities.
Some of the posts on the social media sites about Patel’s store include ethnic slurs.
Patel said the hearsay on Facebook and Topix has caused him problems.
“It has hurt my business. The military are welcome at my store,” Patel said. “Everyone is welcome. It is my business, it is my life.”