The owner of a popular Brooklyn brewery has come under fire after calling the city’s ongoing vaccine mandate a “crime against humanity.” “If you are not speaking out against them, you are a conspirator,” Josh Stylman, co-founder and CEO of Threes Brewing, posted to Twitter on February 14. In subsequent messages, he likened vaccine mandates to Jim Crow laws, the Nazi regime, and other historical atrocities.
Stylman, who is partially vaccinated, claims the vaccine “does not stop transmissions” of coronavirus. He says the mandate provides “no health benefit” to New Yorkers, including his employees, who he would prefer to let decide about the vaccine themselves. According to the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated individuals are more likely to contract coronavirus, while vaccines can also help prevent serious illness and death in the event of infection.
It’s not the first time Stylman has aired grievances about mask and vaccine mandates that many find offensive; it’s just the first time most people noticed. In December, Stylman responded to a commenter asking about his stance on the mandate by saying, “[H]ow would you feel about no Jews, blacks, or gays? Same logic, is that ok?” Later that month, he referred to the mandate as “the dumbest policy of my lifetime. If you support them, history will judge you as the monstrous segregationist that you are.”
Since his outburst on February 14, Twitter users flooded have flooded the post with comments, drawing issue with his use of the phrase “crime against humanity” and vowing to take their business elsewhere in the borough. Lincoln Restler, a City Council member in Brooklyn’s 33rd District, said he had been considering hosting an event at the brewery. “After this comment from one of their co-owners, I am going to pick a different spot,” he said.
In an interview with Eater on Wednesday evening, Stylman doubled down on the remarks, but claimed that he was not comparing the mandate to the Holocaust or concentration camps. He says that he was talking about the onset of Nazism in Germany, when Jewish people were banned from entering restaurants, theaters, and other public spaces. “[F]rom everything I learned from my family, all Holocaust survivors, what’s happening now sure does resemble Germany in 1933,” he wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
The Threes co-founder has no plans to apologize for his remarks, but offered an apology to his co-workers at the brewing company, who he says may suffer consequences from his post. “If I have fear, it’s for the people who work here,” he says. “I feel terrible for the position they’re in, and for that I’m truly sorry.” Multiple wholesale clients that Threes works with have contacted the brewery with concerns, he says.
In an Instagram post on Thursday evening, Threes Brewing distanced itself from Stylman but did not issue an apology for the posts. “We do not stand by our CEO Joshua Stylman’s comparisons of the mandates to historic atrocities based on religion or race,” the post read. “We think the comparisons are inappropriate and inaccurate.”
Vaccine mandates are a crime against humanity.— Josh Stylman (@jstylman) February 14, 2022
If you are not speaking out against them, you are a conspirator.
The private biz thing is an interesting argument and I might agree. It gets tricky though: how would you feel about no Jews, blacks, or gays? Same logic, is that ok?— Josh Stylman (@jstylman) December 12, 2021
Regardless, what's happening is not just private businesses making a decision, governments are mandating it.
Threes has been following city and state mandates at its locations in Gowanus, Greenpoint, Governors Island, and Huntington during the pandemic, Stylman says. Partially out of respect for the food businesses he partners with, including the popular Meat Hook butcher shop, but also because he doesn’t want to “put the company at risk” — by which he means the possibility of being “canceled” online, not his employees contracting coronavirus.
Stylman is the latest in a series of restaurant owners to publicly denounce the city’s vaccine mandate. In January, Stratis Morfogen, the owner of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, Brooklyn Chop House, and other restaurants, called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to “arrest him” for opposing the mandate. Morfogen does not require his employees to be vaccinated, but almost all are except for a few who are required to take tests before each shift, he says.
Across the country, states are dropping their mask and vaccine mandates, potining to a downward trend in hospitalization and positivity rates. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the end of New York’s mask-or-vaccine policy earlier this month, but restaurants and other food businesses in New York City are still required to check for proof of vaccination, in line with local guidance.
NYC’s current vaccination mandate for workers has been in effect since December 27. Employees who work in-person work or come in contact with the public are required to receive two doses of the vaccine, or one dose in the case of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The mandate was put in place to protect workers against the virus and its variants, former mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time.