The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dr. Crack Coffee, or, How I learned to stop playa hating and love the Starbucks

I don't normally drink Starbucks' blend of "crack coffee." In fact, unless I can kick back and relax in a coffee shop, I just brew my own strange brew. But I must say I'm quite interested in stopping by Starbucks now that they are being attacked by a group of "concerned" women for a supposedly pro-gay stance.

The point of contention is Starbucks' new coffee cups, on which they've included quotes by famous Americans in order to encourage and further discussion and debate. But they made the mistake in including a quote from a gay man. Big uh oh. Among the quotes is one from Armistead Maupin, who chronicled the 1970s and 80s SanFran gay community. "My only regret about being gay is that I 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."

Does it foster debate? Quite assuredly. Does it promote a homosexual agenda, as the Concerned Women for America allege? If talking about homosexuality is a crime, then yes. Welcome to the wacko world of anti-gay activists; their solution to the gay problem? Ensure no one talks about it. I hope that no one who reads this site, at least, would fall prey to accepting such baseless attempts at freezing debate. Question homosexuality? Be my guest. Refuse to discuss it? No thanks.

But beyond Maupin's quote, there are a lot of interesting choices that CAN further debate over a cup of coffee, a thoroughly American practice. From the grab bag of quotes: "Everywhere, unthinking mobs of 'independent thinkers' wield tired cliches like cudgels, pummeling those who dare question 'enlightened' dogma. ... Cliches begin arguments, they don't settle them." (any idea who said that? or what his political views might be?)

Controversy brews with twice the caffeine


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  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger Ben A. Johnson said…

    Brian, I suggest turning on "word verification" to cut down on future spam comments. I've had to do it on my site.

    While Starbucks isn't a great coroporation (after all... it's a corporation) they do have a track record of being kinder to their employees (providing benefits for one... though some would argue that this is to prevent workers from unionizing) and provided they don't withdraw the cup, I say your decision to start going is quite noble. More often you hear about people refusing to go some place.

    I think your statements on opening and closing the debates are interesting. When I was at Trinity, I helped to organize a panel discussion called "Homosexuality: Right or Wrong" in which various religious leaders and scholars offered their opinions. Having grown up queer in Oregon, I knew that this debate was still alive and well in many places. However, one queer professor on campus took great issue with the title saying that it shouldn't even be debated. The idea of even entertaining that there might be something wrong with homosexuality was offensive to him. And while I agree that the idea is offensive to me, I also know that no problems will be solved if we simply ignore the issue. Many terse emails were exchanged on the topic, and since it was my event, the title stayed.

    I just wanted to point out that trying to silence the debate is a tactic that all too frequently (even once being too frequently) is used by some.

    And one finaly point: I think the irony of this group's protest might be that more attention will be drawn to this single quote than if they had never protested at all.


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