For some, the coffee-house chain has become an island of calm in a hectic world; for others, it’s a place to pick up something civilized to wake them up in the morning.
Starbucks is an iconic symbol of Yuppie culture. It is where young professionals reveal their level of sophistication by ordering complex coffees handcrafted to their particular tastes. The very idea that a Starbucks customers would order their cappuccino while packing heat just does not seem possible.
Not only was it possible, it was being done, so gun-control advocates such as “Moms Demand Action” and the “Coalition to Stop Gun Violence” set in motion that most American of protests — an economic boycott — that ended up costing Starbucks around $11 million a year.
Faced with this, CEO Howard Schultz published a letter making “a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores and outdoor seating areas.” It was not an outright ban, but rather a polite proposal made to a class of customers who, if nothing else, have long been considered polite.
Yes, there have been a smattering of counter protests and promises of boycotts from the other side, but gun-control advocates are claiming it a victory, and maybe it is.
Closer examination, however, again reveals the social and cultural divide that exists in the land. Starbucks was an easy target. The stores are concentrated in what columnist and cultural critic David Brooks calls “latte towns” — in-town enclaves where young urban professionals gather, college communities and upscale suburban shopping centers —their target clientele has always been those who follow Downton Abbey, not Duck Dynasty. It
is no surprise that those folks would get upset when the guy next to them in line is carrying a gun.
However, recent studies have revealed increasing libertarian leanings among this group, leanings that have manifested themselves into an acceptance of cultural diversity, gay rights and a host of other attitudes toward the way institutions, governmental and otherwise, interfere with choices they feel should be personal.
Will these libertarian leanings eventually work in favor of those who want to carry guns into Starbucks? It is too early to tell, but the outcome, whatever it is, will tell us a lot about the way society is evolving today.