As I put this week’s issue to bed, I thought I had done a terrific job of handling what could have been a very controversial story. But let’s go to the start — here’s the story from the 3 June 2007 issue:
Consider Yourself Spurred
Michelle Incanno says she was a Starbucks addict, buying beans and coffee drinks frequently. The Springboro, Ohio, woman recently got a cup of joe at her neighborhood outlet when she noticed something new on her cup: a quotation that, Starbucks says, is designed to “collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.” The company invites replies on its web site. The quote on Incanno’s cup read: “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” Incanno was outraged. “I was so offended by that,” she said. “I just want coffee.” She says she won’t return to Starbucks. (Dayton Daily News) …But if she does, she might want to consider switching to decaf.
Note I didn’t say she was stupid, nor did I say she was wrong. But indeed I did imply she overreacted a bit. And she did. That’s all — end of story. Unless, of course, you’re an overly sensitive reactionary type like, say, Ms. Incanno.
Indeed she’s not alone in her overreaction. Here’s the very first comment from a Premium subscriber on the story:
Randy, I really think you showed your anti-God bias in the story about Michelle Incanno who read that anti-God screed on her Starbucks coffee cup and decided not to patronize them anymore. As a Christian, I would have been offended too and am not going to buy Starbucks again. This is what the free marketplace allows for, right?
What I don’t understand is why you put Ms. Incanno in with the stupid crooks, etc, as though her actions were either stupid or ridiculous. She’s simply following her beliefs and acting on them, hurting no one in the process. Starbucks has the right in this land of the free to print what they want on their cups; Incanno has the right to refuse to fund them; you have the right to make fun of her for it, but I totally disagree that she should be lumped in with these bozos, like the minister who turned out to be a crazy pervert, stupid bank thieves, etc. You’re making an exception for her, making fun of her for her beliefs, not her actions, like the others. I’ve supported you in the past, but this time I think you’re wrong. Please let me know your views on this, as I think you should print an apology to her online for attacking her for her deeply held beliefs just because you don’t agree with them. –Vivian, Florida
One thing I do like about Vivian’s note: she didn’t scream that I’m going to hell, etc. In fact, she defended my right “to make fun of her.” But really, “anti-God”? A “screed”? Hardly. “Making fun of her beliefs, not her actions”? Exactly the opposite — I said nothing about her beliefs. Vivian doth protest too much.
Certainly Starbucks knew the cup would bring reaction — and that was exactly the idea. Their “The Way I See It” cup quote program was designed from the start to “collect different viewpoints and spur discussion,” as the story itself noted.
Ms. Incanno chose to go to the media with her point of view, and that’s ok, but I’m “anti-God” to give her more publicity, or to help that discussion along? Please.
The a-religious (please don’t read “anti-” there; “a-” simply means without) are told by society they must sit still and shut up when someone wants to force religion on them. But that’s not reasonable; why is it that there has to be wailing and gnashing of teeth when someone dares to talk back? Why do so many in-your-face, fire and brimstone finger-waggers scream “Freedom of Religion!” — but then refuse to recognize the same right in those who quietly speak in reply?
Sure the religious have a “Constitutional right” to practice religion the way they please; why doesn’t the a-religious? And if one side or the other decides to step into the public spotlight to sputter and rant, why shouldn’t those who aren’t addicted to caffeine be free to roll their eyes in reply?
And Then What Happened?
Starbucks quietly dropped the cup quotes, and deleted the “Way I See It” page from their web site. Vivian in Florida, who wrote the complaint letter above, didn’t unsubscribe in protest — but she didn’t reply, and didn’t renew when her subscription ran out the next spring. She hasn’t been back. How very sad that her faith is so weak that she can’t even deal with a simple question.
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