The owner of “Special Ed’s” Brewery in Galt, California has received death threats and is facing a backlash from disability rights activists and parents with special needs children over the name of his business.
As a result, he is looking to change his brewery’s name.
“They’re saying I’m poking fun at people with special needs. No. Absolutely not. That was never the intent,” Ed Mason, who owns the brewery, told local Fox affiliate Fox 40.
Mason said the intent was to make fun of himself and that “Special Ed” is a fun nickname his wife created for him several years ago. According to ABC 10, one of the shirts featured at the brewery has a small, yellow bus on it. Written on the back is “Ride the Short Bus to Special Beer.” Some of the names of the beer bottles include “Back of the Bus Brown Ale” and every bottle of beer has “Tard Tested, Tard Approved” on it.
Special Ed is also the name of a New York-based American hip-hop recording artist of Jamaican descent. He has a verified profile on Twitter.
“Respect for Kids” child advocate Sean South told Fox 40 that Mason’s business model was in poor taste. He said he found it curious that no one stopped Mason from using those words.
Legally, the City of Galt reportedly does not have the ability to regulate the name of a business, according to reports. It issued the following statement: “The review and issuance of a city business license is not a discretionary process. If the applicant pays the required fee, they are entitled to receive a business license.”
ABC10 notes that Mason and his wife Cheryl applied for a business license on May 18, 2016.
Mason had a Facebook page for the brewery but the page is no longer available on the social media platform. It appears to have been deleted, although the page’s name is still available in the URL.
Not everyone disagreed with Mason’s business model. Galt resident John Wallick reportedly said “One guy is trying to build a business here and I really don’t see anything wrong with a little humor.”
Mason says he has friends with children who have special needs, and maintains that his business’s name and model were not meant to offend individuals who fall into that category.
However, even with his plans to change the brewery’s name, some people say they will never set foot in his establishment.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz