Oddly Enough

Seeing red over revolutionary toilet humor

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing authorities have scolded a local Communist revolution-themed restaurant for harming national sentiment by painting a sign “liberation zone” pointing the way to its toilets.

“Times Gone Past,” a restaurant featuring waiting staff clad in People’s Liberation Army uniforms and decorated with photos of revolutionary heroes and maps of military battles, had taken the “red” theme too far and had been ordered to remove the sign, Thursday’s Beijing News said.

“Many customers had expressed their dissatisfaction, believing that putting ‘liberation zone’ on par with a toilet was akin to blaspheming the revolution and was an overly-casual use of the term,” the paper said.

China’s Communist Party referred to regions captured from occupying Japanese troops during World War Two as “liberation zones” and later applied the term to territory seized from U.S.-backed Nationalist forces during the 1945-1949 civil war.

The Communists’ defeat of the Nationalists and subsequent sweep to power in 1949 is referred to as the “liberation” of China.

A photograph in the paper showed a restaurant worker putting up a newspaper page to obscure the sign, painted in big red characters above an arrow pointing to the toilets.

A restaurant spokesman said the sign was “just a joke in keeping with the restaurant’s ‘red’ theme.”

But the local commerce bureau failed to see the humor, saying the sign’s “creativity was inappropriate” and constituted a “malicious satire detrimental to culture” in a notice ordering the restaurant to change the name.