Silver Spoon Cancels Gun-Rights Fundraiser (Updated)

Owner says callers threatened boycott

The owner of the Silver Spoon Cafe in Cold Spring said he canceled a fundraiser planned by Philipstown Gun Owners at the restaurant because of callers who said they would boycott his establishment if it took place.

Abdelhady (Jimmy) Hussein told The Current on Tuesday that he received calls and saw Facebook posts from people who said they would no longer eat at his Main Street restaurant if the fundraiser, scheduled for Thursday, March 15, was held there. Philipstown Gun Owners said online that it had been informed Monday that it could no longer have its event at the Silver Spoon.

The Silver Spoon Cafe (File photo)

Hussein said he was approached about using the restaurant for a fundraiser that would include music and food. He said he agreed but did not realize it was a guns-rights group. That didn’t matter to him, he said, because the restaurant is used for many types of events, although he said he has been criticized in the past for hosting political fundraisers by people who supported opposing candidates.

“I don’t understand that,” he said. “I just want to run a restaurant.”

Hussein said he did not cancel the event because it was a pro-gun group but because of the response by some customers who said they would no longer patronize the restaurant.

Detail from a flyer for the planned Philipstown Gun Owners fundraiser

However, a Monday post on the Silver Spoon Cafe’s Instagram account said the “gun event” was canceled because “arrangements were made by an individual, and we were unaware of the event’s purpose or sponsor. Once we found out, we canceled it immediately.” A flyer for the event said it would be “a night of company with other Second Amendment supporters” with a performance by Tenbrooks Molly and a $20 donation requested at the door.

Philipstown Gun Owners characterized the calls to Hussein as “threats from anti-Second Amendment groups” and charged they violated his First Amendment rights.

“We want the proprietor to know that we have asked everyone to stop in and have a meal as we continue to support his business and his right to earn a living,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Michael Turton contributed reporting.

35 thoughts on “Silver Spoon Cancels Gun-Rights Fundraiser (Updated)

  1. This is incredibly one-sided “journalism.” Did the owner’s perspective actually come from an interview, or from the fundraising group? Because according to the Silver Spoon Instagram account, it was canceled because the proprietor did not realize what kind of function was being hosted. If individual residents decided not to frequent his establishment anymore, i.e. voting with their feet and dollars, that would have been their right as well. No one was “threatened.”

  2. The good ol’ free market. People voting with their wallets.

    In many communities in U.S., a business would see a boost in sales for hosting a pro-gun fundraiser. Happily Cold Spring isn’t one of them.

  3. Although the gun-rights advocates have every right to be disappointed, this is not an infringement on Mr. Hussein’s First Amendment rights. The First Amendment informs what the government can and cannot do with regards to its citizens. Private enterprise is a different matter entirely.

  4. It’s worth pointing out that individuals can’t threaten anyone’s First Amendment rights. The First Amendment limits what our government can do to us. Also, I’m curious what “anti-Second Amendment groups” in particular were issuing threats. All the gun owners I know are in favor of sensible gun violence prevention. I don’t know anyone who is “anti-Second Amendment.”

    • What exactly are these “sensible gun-violence prevention” laws? How can anyone agree to something if they have not been informed of them?

  5. Where are you getting your information from, Highlands Current? This is inaccurate and one-sided reporting, apparently meant to stir up even more tensions? Jimmy himself said that he had not been informed of the fundraiser’s purpose and apparently did not support it. Did you even bother to call Silver Spoon for a comment? Or did you take all of your sources from Facebook?

  6. Speaking from past restaurant/catering experience, it is usually NOT the owner who books large “parties.” It is not always asked (but hopefully will be in the future), what the nature of a gathering is. As an activist for gun control, I was originally upset, but I give ownership (Jimmy) the benefit of the doubt now that he has cancelled the event. I hope people believe his statement that he was unaware and that he is uninvolved with this organization. I’m glad people voiced displeasure to Silver Spoon. It’s not a place I frequent, but I hope people can move on from this mistake. I regret that sensationalism is being added to this situation, i.e., “restaurant receiving threats.” Smh. Problem solved, move on.

  7. And right here, in our own little town, proof that there are (at least) two sides to every story and that anything can be spun to fit the desired narrative. Peace, people.

  8. Free speech has never been especially welcome in the People’s Republic of Cold Spring. This is the kind of tactic that is more to be expected of Antifa than the local liberals from Philipstown and vicinity.

    The way it works is simple: instead of engaging in an actual debate about ideas, shut down the discussion before it even happens. It speaks volumes about certain people in this town who are so fearful of having their agenda and political leanings exposed.

    It is truly reprehensible that an honest business owner cannot hold an event in his own establishment for fear of reprisals.

  9. How about this: a fundraiser for pro-gun and a fundraiser for anti-gun. Like Ross Perot used to say, “Problem solved.” Stay calm and carry on.

  10. Free speech unwelcome? Preposterous.

    Free speech is entirely welcome in Cold Spring. Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean free speech is not welcome — quite the opposite. When a business owner decides not to host an event that relates to a hot cultural issue, that is his or her right, whether through moral, ethical or business considerations. If regular customers told the owner that they would stop supporting the business if it hosted or declined to host a particular event, that is their right to do so.

    Voting with our feet and our wallets is part and parcel of the free market. Nobody’s free speech has been trampled on. Customers embraced their rights. The business embraced its rights. When a moderator on a social media page guides or deletes a conversation, nobody’s free speech is being infringed upon — my page, my rules, I can let you stay or boot you out, just like I can at my house — everyone is free to go to another page. Same applies to the comments section of this newspaper. A host can welcome or boot.

    Your First Amendment rights are violated when the government prevents you from speaking or gathering, or imposes or disallows your religious practice. That has not happened in Cold Spring. In fact, a wide array of opinions are strongly expressed on a regular basis. People gather on a regular basis. We are a microcosm of the nation as a whole, with all the good and bad that implies. Even people who don’t live here, but regularly express derision-loaded opinions, are regularly tolerated in social media and in the press. Free speech thrives in our village — the disagreements prove it.

    I have great sympathy for the owner of Silver Spoon, who has unintentionally found himself at the localized crux of a national debate that has absolutely nothing to do with him or his business. I don’t know Jimmy, but I am certain he welcomes all of us to his establishment. Winters are tough on Main Street businesses.

    • The point of my comment was less about free speech, freedom of assembly and association and the First Amendment and more about the thuggery that occurred in this instance when a pro-gun group attempted to meet in a Main Street eatery. Mr. Hussein has no political axe to grind and he would no doubt have been glad to make the extra money hosting the event at his restaurant. As Greg Miller acknowledged, winters can be very tough in Cold Spring.

      In my estimation, the line was crossed by whomever took it upon themselves to contact Mr Hussein and warn (threaten) him that if he did host the pro-gun group they would subsequently boycott his establishment. Would anyone say that is being “tolerant” of different points of view?

      If you want to see just how “tolerant” some of the locals really are, read a few of the comments in this forum. I don’t blame Mr. Hussein from backing down, but I do find it tragic.

  11. I’m just glad I left Cold Spring when I did. I went to Haldane from kindergarten through high school and loved it. Everyone was friends and neighbors. I knew everybody and everybody knew me. Parents, kids, teachers, officers, firemen/women, it didn’t matter. Now it’s just a bunch of crying and complaining people who think they are going to make a difference. Get over yourselves and move on. I’ve been to the Silver Spoon a few times and enjoyed myself. I would go back again. The guy is just trying to get through his life the best he can and provide for his family. God bless the USA and the Second Amendment.

  12. I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a mom concerned about gun violence, to me, the NRA represents a powerful force looking to get guns in as many hands as possible. I think to the gun owners, I look like someone who wants to take away their rights to protect themselves. But, in reality, I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between. The only goal I have is to keep our kids safe in school by making guns harder to get. New York does have some of the strictest gun laws in the country but that doesn’t stop by guns from coming into New York illegally or from falling into the wrong hands. It also doesn’t protect the rest of the children in America from the liberal gun laws in their states.

    Personally, I think a universal age requirement for firearms purchases is a no-brainer. Kids can’t by alcohol until they’re 21, but they can buy an AR15. I also want background checks, user training, gun-registration requirements, gun-education requirements, periodic gun-safety inspections, basically what you would need to do to own an operate a car.

    Honestly, I think the things that us “cry-baby liberals” want are things that most reasonable gun owners would do as a matter of course. We all agree that the senseless slaughter of our schoolchildren needs to stop. You are right, we live in a special place where neighbors take care of each other. The solution is for us to come together to find a solution, instead of fighting each other and letting outside sources stir the pot and make enemies out of friends and neighbors.

  13. As a Haldane graduate and business owner in the area for over 20 years, I’m appalled that Jimmy has been put in this position. I have always known him to be a great guy and he has the right to host any event in his establishment that he sees fit. Hosting an event does not mean he agrees or disagrees with any of the issues or beliefs the people who come to his place of business may have.

    This is not a hate group. It’s simply people who have different beliefs. He does not deserve to be judged by who he is hosting. He is simply running a business which is hard enough in itself. Some of my best friends are guns owners and advocates of the Second Amendment while some are vehemently against it, yet somehow we agree to disagree and remain friends. For anyone who threatens to boycott this establishment because Jimmy is simply hosting an event- take a long hard look in the mirror and think about what you are doing.

    • Time is now for some reflection. Apparently it’s a fine line between conducting a “boycott”, which an action in and of itself presumably protected as free speech under the First Amendment, and “bullying”, which in this case falls under the column of economic warfare, also presumably in and of itself, within limits, a legal activity.

      But a question I think others in the legal profession (I am not) will be asking: could a pre-emptive boycott, or threat of a boycott, before and in advance of any actual motivating action on the part of the party being boycotted, be construed as a form of hate speech? Or an illegal category of bullying? And depending upon who organizes a boycott, and their personal intents and interests, could it be considered activity falling under the RICO Act?

      It is far from clear to me. However, I would not rule it out. Legal minds will need to weigh in. Yet for now I would encourage circumspection, lest things get out of control, and this becomes a “federal” case.

      Parenthetically, I am not convinced that “hate speech” laws have passed the constitution test. But that is a whole other matter, and for the now these laws are on the books and subject to enforcement..

  14. A fundraiser expresses support, like or not. If you are a person doing business on Main Street, accept the consequences. You own your position, and that usually boils down to where you get your funding.

    • At the risk of seeming vulgar, there’s an old expression that is very apropos of the Silver Spoon situation, namely, “don’t s*** where you eat.” Every business owner, especially those in small towns, realize the truth of this saying. In Cold Spring, I can think of only one person and one establishment that ever engages in politics by having posters and advocacy in the store window.

      I give this person a lot of credit for their passion and for engaging in free speech even though I completely disagree with the viewpoints expressed. This business owner must feel very confident that their advocacy will not cause a loss of business.

      On the other hand, Jimmy, the owner of Silver Spoon, has never said or done anything that advocates any political viewpoint. As a matter of fact, I doubt anyone even knows what his politics are. I certainly have no idea nor do I care. For all the years I have been here, right across the street, Jimmy has been one of the best, most outstanding neighbors and business owners in the Village. He is always working and improving the restaurant and the building. He is unfailingly friendly and willing to help his neighbors. In short, he is an all-around great guy and asset to the community, and he does not deserve to be treated like this and to be harassed, threatened and intimidated in this manner.

      I am certain that if Jimmy had any idea of what would happen when he agreed to host the gun club event, however reluctantly, he probably would have turned it down. No business owner, especially in the dead of winter in Cold Spring, can afford to lose money on a sure thing.

      This whole brouhaha has brought shame on wannabe social-justice warriors and the Village of Cold Spring. Anyone who thinks it’s OK to try and put an innocent man out of business because he holds a political event in his restaurant are beneath contempt. If anything, you owe Jimmy a big, public apology.

  15. As a constitutional law geek (though no expert), I so love this thread. And it’s nice to rewind to the First Amendment for a moment.

    So, here’s my (hopefully correct) legal take.

    Technically, Jimmy, as the owner of a place of public accommodation in New York State (not in every state), violated the civil rights of the fundraising organization. That’s because in New York State “political activity” is a protected class, just like race or religion. Yes, that surprised me too. So, you can’t discriminate against a political activity same as you can’t discriminate against a particular race if you run a public accommodation (restaurant, hotel, etc.). Jimmy is free to not hold any private events at all but if he does, then alas, it has to be open to anyone that falls under a “protected class” in the New York State Constitution. No, nobody should sue Jimmy. He’s nice. His food is good. And we’re nice people.

    As for boycotting, or saying you will boycott, that’s still protected free speech. I say “still” because Congress is sneaking up on that one. But I won’t go into that.

    The suggestion that boycotting is hate speech is interesting. I never heard that one before. I suppose nothing says “I hate you” better than a boycott. Still, I don’t know if I want the government telling me where I can and can’t spend my money. (Don’t get me started on that pesky federal law that criminalizes a particular boycott.)

    That said, nobody sue anybody, OK?

  16. Are we done yet? This is NOT working together, something people don’t know how to do anymore. Time to retire this post.

  17. It is extremely distressing to read that Abdelhaby (Jimmy) Hussein, owner of the Silver Spoon Cafe, felt it necessary to cancel a planned fundraiser by the Philipstown Gun Owners because of boycott threats from opponents of gun rights.

    I am not a gun-rights devotee. However, gun owners not only have rights under the Second Amendment, they enjoy the First Amendment’s protection of their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. Business owners also have the right to offer their goods and service to all law-abiding persons. Threats of economic harm by means of a boycott in an instance such as this is unprincipled and threatens democratic norms.

    I am certain that had a boycott of the Silver Spoon for catering an American Civil Liberties Union or NAACP fundraiser been threatened by individuals opposed to those organizations’ policies, the same individuals who threatened the instant boycott would have been outraged. Hence, a caveat: those who would abandon a neutral principle of freedom of speech or association will have little ground to stand on when those seeking to limit their freedoms come for them.

    Hellerstein is a retired law professor.

  18. A Main Street Business Perspective: It’s so hard for businesses to stay neutral in these very charged, political times. Political activists vote with their wallets, and small shops rely on ALL of their patrons to stay in business. We may not agree with all of our customer’s political views, but we lose business if we express opposing views. Even in this chain of comments people are threatening to boycott Silver Spoon because they didn’t express anger and hatred for “gun-rights activists.” That’s unkind, it doesn’t sound like Jimmy invited the pro-gun group to approach him. He got stuck in the middle of this.

    Most of the Main Street businesses prefer to stay neutral where politics are involved and don’t want to offend any of our patrons. We hear a vast range of political opinions and angles from people in our shops. Our small businesses are happy for any opportunity to get a crowd of customers, and fundraiser events at a restaurant can boost a bad month of business. Judging from his response, it looks like Jimmy was not fully informed about what the fundraiser was for when he agreed to allow the group to host their event at his restaurant. Knowing that Cold Spring is a left-swinging town, the gun-rights fundraiser group may have chosen to keep that part of the event undisclosed when they approached Jimmy to use the space. Jimmy is a very respectful man who probably would not pry and wanted the potential boost to business, and therefore did not ask about what the fundraiser was for. It’s always good to ask.

    What I want to know is why gun-rights activists are looking to fundraise in Cold Spring? It seems Carmel would be a better location for their supporter base.