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Starbucks Unity Cups: Why Hate Them?

Outrage over Starbucks unity cups is a news story because of hate … of Liberal nannies.

The Starbucks unity cups were devised to inspire hate. Why? Partly because hate means free publicity in social media and elsewhere. If the marketing people didn’t already know that then they learned it last year with the red Christmas cups.

First, if you haven’t heard of Starbucks unity cups, let me give Starbucks more of the free publicity and introduce them to you.

But there has been a negative reaction. The Pittsburgh CBS affiliate reported,

This time, some believe the company is trying to influence voters in this final week before the election.

Starbucks says it’s a “Unity Cup” and is supposed to show we’re all connected with more than 100 people drawn with one continuous line on the side of the cup.

But some don’t think the cup is very unifying, claiming it shows a Liberal bias.

One person tweeted: “My coffee should not (and does not) come with political brainwashing. I dropped @starbucks like a hot rock.”

Another wrote: “All Republicans boycott Starbucks.”

Okay. But what people say on Twitter doesn’t represent much intensity of feeling. People basically use social media to publish stray stuff that they are momentarily thinking. On YouTube, which requires more effort, I’ve not found any videos (yet) objecting to the cups. Instead I’ve found videos by self-congratulatory millennials who mock such conservatives who might not like Starbucks unity cups.

So, it seems to me that people feel much more intensely about virtue-signaling that they are better than those stupid conservatives than any conservatives feel about the cup.

And that powerful feeling of self-righteousness is a great way to appeal to consumers. I’ve been interviewed at Starbucks in the Midwest and have been told that, in that region, the brand still seems cool. On the Left Coast, however, Starbucks coffee shops have lost some of their magic. They aren’t as cool as they used to be.

We have an election coming up in less than a week. Those who don’t want Trump as President feel passionate about it. Starbucks has come up with a cup that feeds that passion and makes drinkers feel like they are demonstrating their ethical superiority. Adding some mocking response to conservative objections only helps that marketing ploy.

Brilliant move, Starbucks.

While there’s no evidence that conservatives feel strongly about it, we should state why they don’t like the cup. One way of putting it, if you have read Harry Potter, is that no one likes Delores Umbridge.

To unpack that: No one likes to be nagged and told how to think and act. It is especially offensive when it is done by someone expecting you to spend four bucks on a cup of coffee. It communicates to such people that they don’t get the basic respect that all other customer’s get in a pluralistic society.

So, that adds a level of hypocrisy to the offense of the Starbucks unity cups. The cups are meant to divide people into two camps rather than allowing them to drink their overpriced coffee in peace.

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Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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