Update: “Albino Rhino” beer brand withdrawn following human rights complaint

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2013

“Earls Restaurants will take beer sold under the 25-year-old brand off the menu after a Vancouver woman with albinism filed a BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint against the chain in 2012. The same craft beer will still be sold, but just as ‘Rhino.'” [Emily Jackson, MetroNews, Canada; earlier]

P.S. Frances Zacher at Abnormal Use on other beer-naming controversies.


1 proof 02.20.13 at 12:31 pm

Along the same lines, a Cranston, RI, woman prevailed on a pickle producer to remove the word “midget” from its pickle label, claiming it was insensitive toward her daughter, who has dwarfism. Strangely, the term didn’t bother the lady until she bore the offspring. I guess the kid will never have a miniature horse as a pet, or see the Wizard of Oz (damn Munchkins), or see the Small World exhibit at Disneyland or read about Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels. Will her mother let he see Giant, or Attack of the 40-foot Woman? Or will she try to ban everything to do with size disparity.

2 gasman 02.20.13 at 12:43 pm

Who knew that albinism was a condition with thin skin too.

The complaint is based on: “A person must not publish, issue or display…any statement.. that indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or group or class of person or is likely to expose a person or group or class of person to hatred or contempt”.

So just who is exposing the albino community to hatred or contempt in the filing of this complaint? Ikponwosa Ero wants to represent all humans (and rhinos) with albinism as thin skinned wussies.

3 Robert 02.20.13 at 1:13 pm

Too bad there was no monetary award! As a fat, bald person, I’d go after “Fat Tire” beer and, “Bald Eagle” beer.

4 Robert 02.20.13 at 1:15 pm

…and I’ve always wanted to claim (here in the U.S., that Disney’s “Mad Hatter” is offensive to the mentally ill.

5 gasman 02.20.13 at 2:29 pm

“Strangely, the term didn’t bother the lady until she bore the offspring.”

Motivation requires skin in the game, ask the albino…

6 boblipton 02.20.13 at 2:59 pm

Oh, the poor, oppressed rhinoceros!


7 Black Death 02.20.13 at 3:33 pm

What about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?

8 mojo 02.20.13 at 5:32 pm

Johnny Winter hardest hit.

9 gitarcarver 02.20.13 at 6:54 pm

Somewhere there is a herd of albino rhino’s who now feel under appreciated and want their voices heard.

“No libation without representation!”

10 Scott Jacobs 02.20.13 at 10:14 pm

This woman is why we can’t have nice things.

11 Richard Nieporent 02.20.13 at 11:27 pm

This ruling is mind-numbing stupidity on the part of the Human Rights Tribunal. An albino rhinoceros is a real animal; thus the name has nothing to do with a human. Earls should rename it Jackass beer in honor of Ikponwosa Ero.

12 JTW 02.21.13 at 1:05 am

good to see the law applied equally for once, and the case not thrown out because it’s not a black person complaining.

Of course the very existence of such laws is idiotic.

13 John Burgess 02.21.13 at 12:01 pm

@JTW: and albino Blacks have no skin in the game?

14 Squirrels 02.21.13 at 12:26 pm

I wonder what said tribunal would make of Delerium Tremens? Or is that different because it’s self-inflicted?

15 wfjag 02.21.13 at 4:24 pm

gasman 02.20.13 at 2:29 pm
“Strangely, the term didn’t bother the lady until she bore the offspring.”

S0, which term did she find offensive after she bore the offspring? (After all, the brewer may still be in violation).

16 kimsch 02.21.13 at 9:41 pm

wfjag: Gasman’s comment was about proof’s comment about the woman who had issue with the word midget after she bore a child with dwarfism.

Even though I have a bad leg I don’t get upset with products being called “Gimp”. Wait, maybe I should sue that open source Photoshop rival…

17 Bill Poser 02.22.13 at 1:27 am

Richard Nieporent: I agree that Earl’s was foolish to cave, but there hasn’t been any ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint itself apparently led Earl’s to change its policy.

18 OBQuiet 02.22.13 at 1:38 pm

Just to be fair, it appears from the article that Earl’s is dropping the name on its own after receiving the complaint.

It just may be that they don’t want to pay to defend themselves or they may have decided that not offending those suffering from Dermal Atrophy(Is there a medical term for being thin skinned? Can we use that term colloquially when some people DO suffer from the medical condition of physically thin skin without risking a HRC investigation?) was the better path.

19 Mike 02.23.13 at 1:21 pm

I practice in British Columbia and have had occasion to deal with the human rights commission there (and elsewhere in Canada).

There’s a reason Earl’s caved – because they knew how this was going to turn out. Many writers have compared Canada’s HRCs, particularly BC’s, to kangaroo courts. Complaints are upheld at a rate of virtually 100%, and the process is both punishing and humiliating. If I were advising a client facing a complaint like this, I would advise them to either (a) cave or (b) be prepared to take this on as a martyr (e.g. as Ezra Levant has done. I suspect a restaurant is little interested in the latter position.

20 Mike 02.23.13 at 3:26 pm

Please note that Smuttynose Ale is quite popular here in Central New York, and possibly Canada as well. I see a revenue opportunity for an enterprising attorney who can find the right client.

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