9.03.2005

'Starbucks Hates Children'? Umm...Okie Dokie...

Starbucks' Cup Quotes Stir Debate

from Billings Gazette / QueerDay

SEATTLE - Starbucks says it was hoping to inspire old-fashioned coffee-house conversations when it introduced a campaign this year featuring the words of notable Americans on its coffee cups.

But at least a few of those words are sparking more discord than discussion.

A national Christian women's organization is accusing the Seattle-based coffee maker of promoting a homosexual agenda because of a quote by author Armistead Maupin, whose Tales of the City chronicled San Francisco's homosexual community in the 1970s and 1980s.

Maupin's quote - one of several dozen in "The Way I See It" promotion - says his only regret about being gay is that he repressed it for so long: "I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short."

Concerned Women for America, which promotes itself as the antithesis of the National Organization for Women and boasts 8,700 supporters in Washington, says most of those quoted on the coffee cups are liberal. The group believes corporations have a responsibility to reflect the diversity of their customers by taking a balanced approach or staying out of divisive social issues altogether.

The group is also upset that Starbucks supported the San Diego gay pride event.

"If Starbucks is doing this knowingly, it is blatanat irresponsibility, wrote Meghan Kleppinger. "All I could think was, 'Starbucks hates children.'

And while the group is not calling for a boycott, its position nonetheless raises questions about what role - if any - corporations should take on potentially sensitive matters, especially at a time when the nation is divided, largely along religious lines, on issues such as gay rights.

"Corporations have deeper pockets and therefore more influence than individuals do," said Maureen Richardson, state director of Concerned Women for America of Washington. "I think it's wiser for them to stay out of these issues so that they don't offend conservatives and people of faith."

To these companies, she says: "If you want my money, support some of my causes."

But experts say that on controversial issues, no company can please all its customers all the time. Corporations, they say, need to pick their battles, staking out a position on issues they believe to be just.

"There are many religious-based social issues that are so hard for society to address right now - things like abortion and capital punishment - they're better left for another time," said Leo Hindery, author of It Takes a CEO: Leading with Integrity.

"But there are a couple of places where it is clear to me that there should be no ambiguity of corporate responsibility - the environment and civil rights," Hindery said. "As a corporation, you cannot let the desire for unanimity override your obligation for fairness."

"The Way I See It" campaign does not set out to take a political stand but rather to encourage discourse, Starbucks spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff said.

Lincoff said the company does not characterize the personalities quoted on its coffee cups as liberal or conservative, but rather as a diverse group of artists, musicians, educators, activists, and athletes. Among them: actor Quincy Jones, New Age author and alternative-medicine doctor Deepak Chopra, radio host and film critic Michael Medved, rap artist Chuck D, and Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan.

The coffee company won't be pulling the Maupin quote - or any other - from the campaign. It will expand it to feature quotes from regular customers.

"Embracing diversity and treating people with dignity is one of the guiding principles of our corporation," Lincoff said.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jakanden said...

Give me a break. It is amazing how people always need to find something to complain about.

September 03, 2005 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hating children: bad
hating gays: A-ok
makes perfect sense.

April 07, 2008 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about hating gay children?

April 10, 2008 3:28 PM  
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