Thanks to the fickle nature of search engines, my blog appears in the top searches of people googling “starbucks bob jones,” “bob jones bans starbucks,” and the like—and those searches seem to be coming in droves—despite the fact that I’ve never commented on it. I’ve never commented because I don’t care: I drink coffee only socially, I’m a thousand miles away from Bob Jones University, and it really doesn’t matter.
What interests me more is the public interest. For one thing, it’s as though someone passed out talking points to bloggers: “Look, when you blog about this, be sure to say that ‘Starbucks is too gay-friendly for right-wing Bob Jones University.’ We all need to stay on-message.” Bloggers here, here, and here all got that memo.
For another, it seems ironic that one of the times the school has gracefully handled its disagreements in the public eye, it still gets blasted for bigotry, intolerance, hatred, and the like. Here’s the official statement from the school as to why it has discontinued selling Starbucks coffee:
Dr. Stephen Jones [president of the school] announced that due to the social activism of Starbucks, we will no longer be selling their product at the University.
Here’s a selection from the Greenville News:
BJU spokesman Jonathan Pait said the school’s constituency began to object to Starbucks’ stance on gays several months ago. More objections came lately, he said.
“They were supportive of homosexual events and causes,” he said. “That would be a problem for our constituency.” The issue surfaced from quotes on a coffee cup Starbucks sells from a man who supports a gay lifestyle.
And here’s the description of an eyewitness to the announcement:
[Y]ou should have heard the announcement and the lengths to which [school President Stephen Jones] went to try to avoid doing this. . . . [He] had a pleasant chat with the regional representative from Starbucks, who gave him the impression that he was sympathetic and would get back with him. He never called back, and [Jones] left eight unanswered voice mail messages for the guy. They just strung [him] along to get another three months out of the franchise.
I see no calls for smiting hip-and-thigh there. Yet reading the comments under zacfoo’s story-breaking blog entry, you might think the school had called for lynchings. I think the point is that when it comes to Bob Jones University, many people already have the bigotry meme, and by George they’re going to stick to it.