This post is a continuation of Starbucks: Keeping a Tight Lid on Freedom of Speech.
Following is the overly tactful and judicious e-mail I received from Starbucks Customer Relations:
Starbucks is committed to contributing to our communities and to the environment. We provide our support through monetary contributions, product donations and through The Starbucks Foundation.
Starbucks provides donations and sponsorships to nonprofit organizations in the following areas: the work of young social entrepreneurs, literacy, the environment, local communities, and programs in coffee-growing communities.
We believe our partners (employees) are the best resource we can offer, therefore we also support organizations in which they are active volunteers. This ensures that our investments touch the neighborhoods where Starbucks partners live and work.
Please note that as a rule, Starbucks does not donate to individuals, programs that promote or endorse a specific religious affiliation, political candidates, or for-profit organizations. This includes the donation of space inside of our store locations (ie: community boards).Sincerely,
Starbucks Coffee Company
And here is my response:
It is obvious that Starbucks is trying to make a positive impact in the communities it occupies. However, I am very sad to hear that you consider the usage of your community board as a “donation of space” and therefore something that cannot be extended to religious or political entities.
Although this type of policy is certainly within your right as a private corporation, it is nevertheless an attempt, in my opinion, to homogenize the atmosphere of dialogue within your restaurants, and avoid anything which might run counter to the beliefs or loyalties of your customers. The only possible result is a bland environment which insults people’s intelligence by assuming that they cannot co-exist with ideas which are not complementary to their own.
I say this not for my own benefit. (There are plenty of other places to put up my harmless and extremely unoffensive posters. In fact, not only have I lost interest in promoting our worship gathering at Starbucks, I’ve lost interest in your company at every level.) I say this because I believe the public deserves better, and that Starbucks has failed to live up to the culture of insightful and challenging dialogue that has characterized the coffeehouse environment for centuries.