The decisions both to screen and now cancel the documentary have sparked criticism, so we reached out to Peddler to learn more.
Peddler co-owner Haley Keller explained to My Ballard that the idea arose when they were asked to host a panel on homelessness by a young professionals group that would include a viewing of clips from the documentary and a panel discussion with various representatives to provide diverse viewpoints, including former Seattle City Council candidate Christopher Rufo, Seattle University law professor Sara Rankin, and Seattle restaurant CEO Chad Mackay.
“This sounded like a valuable discussion to have in our community and we agreed to host,” Haley said.
However, as the event neared, she says the host organization chose to change it into a full screening of the documentary. Unaware of the controversy surrounding the documentary, they agreed.
“With all the time constrains of running a business and having an 8-month-old infant with no childcare, we failed to exercise due diligence and research the documentary and organizations involved,” Haley said. “We did not realize the social media storm push-back of even mentioning the documentary exists.”
The Kellers considered dropping the screening but keeping the panel, but in the end decided that wasn’t enough.
“It is not possible to control the perception on social media that we are merely the venue, not the organizers of this event,” Haley said.
“We at Peddler believe in having open debates about important subjects, such as homelessness, but this business is also our livelihood. While we were merely the venue, Peddler was incorrectly being perceived as organizing this event and aligning our business with a particular viewpoint. We felt it was best for the reputation of our business, and the safety and enjoyment of our customers and employees, to remove ourselves from hosting.”
While Haley said they’re “encouraged by the energy and passion our community has for ending homelessness,” they’re going to avoid hosting events on the topic in the near future.
“As a brewery with a goal to bring people together, we look forward to events like our summer viewing of The Big Lebowski, because we can all agree that The Dude abides.”