The now viral Starbucks incident that took place in Philadelphia last week is a genuine ethics train wreck.
Two days after two men were arrested while waiting for their friend at a local Starbucks, the company has issued an apology.
Police were called to a Starbucks after two men, who were African Americans, refused to leave the coffee store after they were told that they needed to buy something in order to stay there. The men were waiting to meet companion to have a meeting. The store management then summoned the police.
The men now have an attorney, Lauren Wimmer, who says that her clients were waiting in the Starbucks for less than 15 minutes. “These guys were doing what people do every day, they were having a meeting and they were undoubtedly singled out because of their race, ” she says.
The company tweeted the apology yesterday:
- Activists are calling for a boycott of Starbucks. Of course they are: this is now the reflex response of the Angry Left to any action or event that displeases them. The fact is that Starbuck’s is a self-consciously Social Justice Warrior-friendly corporation, obnoxiously so. Punishing the company and innocent employees and investors because of a single incident is just progressive bullying, sending the currently popular message, “Displease us and we will destroy you.”
The goal is to make Starbucks grovel, and sure enough, it is.
- Question: Is it unreasonable to have a policy against people using your establishment as a meeting place without buying anything?
- Question: Is it unethical to use a restaurant as a meeting place while refusing to buy any food?
Answer: Yes. It fails the Kantian test: if everybody did it, non-buyers might crowd out buyers.
- If the two men were told they had to buy something to stay, and their answer was “We will, just as soon as our third arrives. We’re having a meeting here,” then they were not at fault in any way.
If instead they just refused to buy anything, then they were in the wrong. Starbucks is not a public meeting place. To avoid a confrontation, they should have just moved outside.
- My guess is that the men were indeed singled out because of their race, but not because of racism. Starbucks everywhere is pretty white: two whites hanging around waiting might never be noticed. Two African Americans might stand out.
This is not “systemic racism.” This is reality. Another pair who stood out from the usual crowd for reasons other than race might well have encountered the same response.
- Calling the police is a needless escalation. If that is Starbuck’s policy, it is a bad one.
Nobody should be fired under these circumstances, but I’m betting the protesters won’t be satisfied until one or more low level employees who were just trying to deal with a situation they hadn’t encountered before with black individuals will be sacrificed.
- The police did nothing wrong.