Two More Starbucks Boycotts

Singapore’s Chua Chin Hon wrote in the Straits Times in 2003, “I’m no anti-globalization protestor, nor am I about to become one. But after the “American coffee giant his words opened in Beijing’s Forbidden City, he thought he could understand “a little of the rage against the global capitalist machinery’s relentless and oft-times, senseless drive to sell a few more cups of coffee, burgers, or T-shirts. Yet he still believed in consumer power. “We can . . . send out an unequivocal message by voting with our wallets. No more Starbucks for him until it got out of the Forbidden City. In 2007, Rui Chenggang, a news anchor for Chinese Central Television, renewed the call to get Starbucks out of the 587-year old royal residence also known as the Palace Museum. He and his supporters accused the coffee company of tainting “China’s national culture. Looking to pressure Starbucks, he called for a boycott of the company everywhere in China until it closed shop in the Forbidden City.

This boycott actually worked, or sort of worked. The Starbucks in the Forbidden City is closed, but it has been replaced by a Chinese company selling pricey lattes and cappuccinos in white cups with green logos. Progress?

Like Chua Chin Hon and Rui Chenggang, a large cross-section boycotters are trying to get Starbucks to stop doing something and thereby protect something they value. Forty-four year old James Hartline told me over the phone that he used to be gay. “I was in that lifestyle for thirty years, he admitted. He continued, actually he barely took a breath when we talked, that he knew first hand how destructive this gay world could be. Too many drugs, too much sex, too much pornography, too many men into S & M and “cold steal chains, and too many pedophiles. As a Christian, he declared, he wanted to save the children of his city. By sponsoring the San Diego Gay Pride Parade and other “homosexual foundations, he argued, Starbucks supported this “lifestyle of triple X pornography, causal sex, and the recruitment of the young. “I can’t stand on sidelines any longer, Hartline proclaimed, “its like the Nazis taking the Jews away. I would stand in the train tracks. Lack of action is very dangerous. With this in mind, Hartline used a web page, blog, and speeches to call on all true Christians to boycott Starbucks and stop the spread of homosexuality.

In 2008 Hartline, in fact, claimed that the boycott was starting to get to Starbucks. Check out his blog. He actually says that Starbucks closed its stores — this was true, but it was to train employees to pull a better shot of espresso.