I don’t jump on bandwagons. They’re usually too full of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, but are just hanging out so they can feel like they belong to something.
But I have to say something about this ridiculous Starbucks Red Cup business that’s going around.
First, my position on Starbucks is this: I don’t like their coffee. I will drink it if I don’t have any other option, like at FOT plantings or business meetings where the enormous jug of brewed sludge is the only source of caffeine, or I’m on the road and I need caffeine and a toilet, or if a friend wants to meet for coffee and, for some reason, picks Starbucks. I prefer small businesses, and, as I said up front, don’t jump on bandwagons. On Starbucks, I’m not a fan.
But the furor around this year’s (very sophisticated) design of the cup is preposterous. First, even though I’ve worked in marketing and understand how companies focus on “brand” and color and imagery for marketplace position, that there is a contingent of the population that gives two shits what the coffee cups look like is mind blowing. That that contingent furthermore has interpreted religious stance from a marketing decision is insane. It’s like the scene in The Holy Grail where the peasants accuse a woman of being a witch and drag her to the stake. Based solely on their terror of things they couldn’t understand, they interpreted benign characteristics (her “wart”) as evil and immediately condemned her to death.
and so it is with the Starbucks accusers. Based solely on their terror of things they don’t understand (marketing) they interpret benign characteristics (absence of holiday imagery) as evil and have condemned Starbucks to…to what, I don’t even know. A boycott? Sure, I’ll boycott Starbucks, but only because their coffee sucks.
There are hundreds of cogent defenses of Starbucks, none of which need my voice to improve their message. The gist of the defense is, essentially, “No, Starbucks didn’t mean to be anti-Jesus by using a plain red cup. They just liked how it looked.”
It’s a fine response. And I’m sure it’s true.
But what if Starbucks DID intend to be anti-Jesus? I mean, what if they had a hard-line atheist CEO who wanted all branding to reflect a total rejection of holiday imagery? What if their marketing division was led by a Satanist who wanted to re-appropriate the color red from Santa? What if the company WAS trying to make a stand against participation in Christmas spirit?
It is, after all, their right.
We saw the same radical fundamentalist Christians defend Hobby Lobby’s right to use their corporate actions to reflect closely held religious beliefs. The argument of the radicals at that time was that corporations have an absolute right to freedom of religion, and that Christian-led companies have a right to establish corporate policy based on those Christian beliefs.
Doesn’t the same hold true for non-Christian-led companies?
If Starbucks were *actually* making an anti-Jesus policy statement with their red cups, wouldn’t that simply be an expression of their freedom of religion?
And as an expression of religious freedom, wouldn’t Starbucks also deserve the wholehearted support of the radical fundamentalists who so ardently defended other corporations’ religious expression?
I’m cynical enough to know the answer will be “of course not!” The position of radical Christians arguing publicly for Hobby Lobby isn’t “hey, we want to be free to practice our religion!” it’s “We believe Christianity is the only true religion and we support corporations and policies that align with OUR principles, but everyone else can go jump off a cliff.”
A surprising number of people have been conned into believing that Christians are being persecuted, and now, based on their terror of things they don’t understand (the power of diversity, the peace that’s possible through love and acceptance of our fellow man, the *actual* instructions from Jesus, like “whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, that you do unto me”), they are interpreting benign characteristics (red cups, or in my fictional scenario, an expression of non-Christian beliefs) as evil, and have condemned Starbucks.
Tell you what, radicals: go on with your protest. I’m not going to try to convince you Starbucks didn’t mean any harm. You would never believe me anyway. Plus, your protest won’t amount to a hill of coffee beans, what with the prevalence of Starbucks addicts and people who might just be swayed by the idiocy of your argument to start drinking Starbucks.
But you’ve painted yourself into a corner with your so-called defense of religious freedom. I can’t wait for the day when a Satanist-owned bookstore wants to express their closely held religious beliefs by requiring all employees to remove religious items (a cross necklace, for instance) while they are working. Your refusal to defend the employer will reveal the truth of your argument: that it’s not about the freedom to be ANY religion, for you it’s only about the freedom to be YOUR religion.