Judge Rules on Unsavory Sauce Case

Discussion
Oct 24, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson


By accounts, Maurice Bessinger makes a pretty decent barbecue sauce. It was good enough to be sold in retail stores including Sam’s, Wal-Mart, Food Lion and Winn-Dixie at one
point.


Mr. Bessinger, allegedly, also has had literature displayed in his restaurants suggesting people abducted from Africa and made slaves in America were grateful for their slavery.


It was because of his views on race and religion, Mr. Bessigner contends in various state and federal lawsuits, that grocery stores stopped selling his sauce three years ago.
In doing so, the chains that removed his product from store shelves violated his right to free speech and engaged in unfair trade practices.


US District Judge Joe Anderson, ruling on the specific charges against Sam’s, Wal-Mart, Food Lion and Winn-Dixie, found Mr. Bessinger’s suit to be without merit.


An attorney for Mr. Besinger, Glen LaForce said he will seek to overturn Judge Anderson’s ruling on appeal.


Moderator’s Comment: Should the personal opinions expressed by an owner or officer of a business be sufficient cause to pull a company’s products from
a store’s shelves?


Our immediate reaction was Mr. Bessinger should be sued for stupidity if it were allowable under the law. But, as repulsive as his views may be, aren’t
there other products that could be pulled because they represent an ideology not in keeping with a retailer’s?


Wal-Mart, for example, was certainly taking heat from First Amendment advocates for not carrying certain magazine titles it deemed inappropriate.


Was it okay to pull Mr. Bessinger’s sauce but not to remove Maxim or other lad’s mag from the publication rack? [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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