Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Home of the Wop-per


I'm not sure how high up Louisville, Colorado is in the Rocky Mountains, but the air must be pretty thin there.

How else to explain the stupidity of Blue Parrot restaurant owners Joe Colacci and Joan Riggins, who serve a hamburger called the "Wopburger."

According to a local television station's web site, an Italian-American customer complained that the name of the burger is offensive. Others said the complaints were just "political correctness gone too far." Mostly it's just stupidity running rampant.

Case in point:

"If you were born in New York or some place maybe a wop was derogatory, but not here," said customer Bob Bush. "We love being wops."

The restaurant's owners fail to see how offensive this is. To them it's just a name for a hamburger. For some of their customers, it's a joke. It's not derogatory where they come from, only in New York.

According to Ms. Riggins, the Blue Parrot's co-owner, its not derogatory to call a hamburger a "Wop."

"It's just a wopper. It's just a sandwich," said Riggins. "If I out and called you 'a dirty wop,' then that would be a slur. That would be a problem."
I wonder if she thinks it would be a problem if she called their new chicken sandwich the "N*****." Or maybe only people from New York would be offended. Mr. Bush, who I can only assume is a lily-white yokel, would probably be proud to be a "N*****".

Apparently the "Wopburger" has been on the menu for years. After the controversy erupted, the owners planned to change the name of the sandwich to the "Italian Burger," but then changed their minds when a lot of customers said they weren't offended and left the offensive name in tact.

As for the controversy, it's been good for business. For the restaurant and the local press. Many of the local Denver-area columnists don't see what all the fuss is about. Most of them are not Italian-American and just don't get it.

According to a story on DenverPost.com: "

"Wop," of course, is an epithet occasionally used to slur Italian Americans. Some say it originates from those immigrants who were here "without papers," and others claim it comes from the Italian word "guappo."

Occasionally used to slur Italian-Americans? You're kidding, right? When is "Wop" ever used as a term of endearment?

RockyMountainNews.com just doesn't get it either:

OK, so maybe over the years, a few eyebrows had been raised, concedes State Rep. Paul Weissman, a Blue Parrot bartender for 18 years. "But after it was explained that [the Wopburger] had been on the menu for 88 years and the tradition behind it, people were fine."
So, what, slavery was a quaint tradition? It was around for more than 200 years. I guess it was OK then, huh.