Starbucks: The Cup Half-Full

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By Paul Whitbeck
Staff Writer

The holidays are approaching, the semester is winding down, and cooler weather is on the way. With all the things people have to complain about this time of year, it’s surprising the biggest problem people seem to have is a Starbucks disposable coffee cup. People are in an uproar over the choice Starbucks made to not have a Christmas themed cup. Instead they chose a neutral red color.

Photo: Julian Wilson
Photo: Julian Wilson

Debated often in the news, on talk shows and many Tumblr blogs, most people are familiar with political correctness. Whether Starbucks was right in their choice of cup design, they have inadvertently brought political correctness to the front page.

In years past, images of snowmen, igloos, reindeer, and other festive imagery decorated the Starbucks seasonal cups. The uproar against the new cups derives from many Christians who feel that Starbucks is trying to remove Christmas from the holiday season.

Perhaps most prominently representing this position is self-proclaimed social media personality and American Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein. In his viral video, he said “Do you realize Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups?” and “That’s why they’re just plain red. In fact, do you realize that Starbucks isn’t allowed to say Merry Christmas to customers?” In protest, he told a Starbucks barista his name was “Merry Christmas” to force her to write it on the cup then say it out loud.

Around campus, it was hard to find many students who shared a similar opinion to Feuerstein. Most students were more concerned over the contents of their cup rather than the cup itself.

“When I first saw [the cups], I thought it was a really cool artistic take on a plain red cup because it starts from a darker shade of red and fades upwards,” said Logan Dewih, sophomore music and theater major. “Then I saw online that people are offended by it.” As a practicing Christian she feels that “our goal is to help those in need and not petty about cups.”

Perhaps the most hypocritical part of the entire argument is the fact that the word “Christmas” has not appeared on a Starbucks cup for the past 10 years. If one is to make the argument that Starbucks is taking Christmas off their cups, it must also be true that Starbucks once had the word “Christmas” on its cups at one point in time.

If you are still unsatisfied, you can look just about anywhere else in a Starbucks shop and find Christmas. Christmas Coffee blends, Christmas gift cards, and other products with Christmas printed on them can be found inside any Starbucks. Even a Christmas Cookie Latte exists on the menu.

Because of this, many students believe the argument isn’t even worth discussing. There are other things going on in the world right now that are much more important than a Starbucks cup. Sophomore acting major, Tamer Bolin said, “The fact is, I don’t think [Starbucks is] doing anything to attack Christians,” and that there is “…more actual news to be covered.”

With all the reasons to not be offended by Starbucks, why is it true that so many people are outraged over its cups? Maybe the real problem is not Starbucks, but the flawed society we live in. Maybe, political correctness has gone too far. I may be wrong in saying so, but I feel that many more people are feeling offended, than there are people seeking out to hurt others.

For example, a professor at Yale university emailed students saying that they should use common sense in picking out their Halloween costumes and if someone felt offended by someone’s costume, they should use it to start a dialogue with that person about why they feel that way. This sounds like a good idea, be smart in picking out a costume, and enlighten others as to why they may be offending others. Though I do not believe this professor sought out to hurt anyone, hundreds of students broke out into protest, videos of which have gone viral over the Internet.

Another recent viral video shows Students at Claremont McKenna College in California who are demanding a racially segregated “safe space” for “marginalized identities.” During the rally, an Asian woman shared a story where she was told “go back to your country” by an African American individual. Her point was to show that anyone could be racist, even other minorities and that “we must look at everyone individually.” Amazingly, the crowd thought this was wrong and embarrassed and silenced her. I do not understand how that sort of logic also promotes his or her own cause.

I feel that as a society, we have overcompensated for the lack of political correctness that existed in the early 1900s. As a result, we have lost sight of reality. We live in a world where we can’t be told to use common sense in choosing Halloween costumes, or suggest other minorities can be racist too without offending someone. It has gotten so bad, that even a cup without a few snowflakes on it is enough to offend many people.

I honestly do believe that most people are good, don’t discriminate, and do not mean to hurt or offend anyone, yet so many people constantly complain that someone or something is attacking them. The Starbucks red cup itself is not the problem, nor do I think they set out to offend Christians. The problem is how people reacted and how that reflects upon our society. The same problems are present in many other recent controversial topics, and it is important that we discuss these issues to help us improve as a society.

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