Let me tell you a story about coffee beans.
We buy coffee beans from a local outfit. They are roasted here in town, and we've been using them since we started with having my groceries delivered. I'm especially fond of the French roast, but over the years others have been bought, and they are all tasty. I love them so much that other beans seem to suck in comparison.
Earlier this week when I was making the grocery order, my grocery service was out of the French roast whole beans, so I ordered a tri-roast blend to try, and guess what? I love it more than the French roast. I decided I wanted to link to it on their website to rave about it. You know, an excuse to make a happy little post to my neglected blog. A simple little post about my love of coffee and some awesome coffee beans.
What could possibly go wrong? I typed the name of the outfit into Google.
The first thing I notice is they have an actual coffee shop in town, and I get excited. I don't often go out for coffee, but sometimes I'm out and about doing things and think “A cup of joe would be nice right now.” So it's nice to know where the good shops are, and what shop could be better than one serving coffee made from my favorite beans? But that's not what I was looking for, so I continue down the list of results to find the link to their coffee bean retail outfit. I find it, and then just a couple results down further I see “[Insert Coffee Bar Name Here] is Totally Anti-Choice”. I go and read the article, and wow. Not only anti-choice … vehemently anti-choice.
In general, I don't give a damn about the political leanings of businesses. Oh, I do, but I don't go out looking for the information. There aren't enough hours in the day, and it only leads to misery once you jump down that rabbit hole. I realized long ago that to be a consumer who stays 100% in line with my my beliefs and ideals I'd have to be naked, living in a recycled cardboard box under a bridge, eating dirt and drinking rainwater, because all businesses do things I don't agree with. All of them. That's why I don't poke around too much. So long as they keep it to themselves and provide services/goods I want and enjoy (and aren't openly kicking puppies), they can have my coins.
But … when they don't keep it to themselves, and I hear about it, that changes things. It makes me consider whether or not I truly need and want to be spending money on their service or goods anymore, and the answer is almost always a resounding NO I DON'T. The head of Papa Johns destroyed a lengthy and happy relationship with me when he came out swinging against Obamacare (with the stupidest argument ever), and now my favorite coffee beans have been tainted with comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust. My delicious cup of joe tastes a little off, and as much as I love those beans, I'll be looking around for other beans to love. It's a shame.
My advice to businesses, especially small local ones, is to keep your political and religious beliefs to yourselves. If a pro-choice outfit asks you for a donation and you are anti-choice, just say no. Or ignore the damn email. To do anything else risks turning away consumers who would gladly consume your goods and services, because anything you put in writing will get out into the wild where your potential customers can see it. I've heard the arguments (at length) that then the business owners will not be living by their own belief systems and how can we ask them to do that? But isn't that exactly what businesses like this are asking their consumers to do? Wouldn't they prefer I overlook the fact I believe anyone who compares abortion to the Holocaust is a little soft in the brain and continue purchasing their product? Of course they would. They want to keep making money, and taking my dirty pro-choice money wouldn't bother them at all.
If you want to be political, run a political business. If you want to run a coffee shop or any other kind of general non-political business, keep your own politics and beliefs out of it. When you walk into the door at work, you just shouldn't be spewing anything about your religious beliefs, political beliefs, or your personal life. You especially shouldn't do so while representing your business, unless you want that to be the focus of said business and only want to cater to consumers who agree with you. I can abide a business that is run like that, but then make it clear and upfront you're a right winger and don't act like you're a hippie … and vice versa. Hobby Lobby, for example, was always upfront about being a Christian outfit with Christian and heavily rightwing, traditional ideals, so I wasn't at all surprised when they went all anti-birth control. I was though totally surprised that my favorite coffee bean roaster, people who seemed to be on the down-to-earth, laid back hippie end of the scale ended up being the sort of folks who describe abortion as the “killing of precious innocent babies” and compare it to the Holocaust. I can't possibly unknow that now, and so I also can't possibly continue giving them my money.
I guess now I have about two weeks to find some other beans to grind in my fancy grinder that taste as great to me. If it takes longer than that, I'll just go back to buying Target brand French roast until I find what I'm looking for in a bean roaster. And this time, I will actually be doing a bit of light research to see to whom I am giving my money.
In closing, I will make a rare statement on my position on the subject of abortion. I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Abortion is not a universal good, but at this time it is a universal necessity. I would like to see far fewer of them, and it would be great to create a world where they were only needed in cases of dire situations. The answer to the question “How do we have fewer or no abortions?” is actually not as difficult as people make it out to be.
Higher levels of education lead to fewer unplanned pregnancies (and fewer pregnancies in general). As does comprehensive sex education (someone needs to teach people how to use and care for their body's sexual side). Easy access to reliable and easy to use birth control would also go a long way to lowering the number of abortions (and yet pro-lifers are oh so opposed to it too). We just haven't had the political will to make these things happen, because these things are hard. Outlawing something is easy. Outlawing things doesn't make those things go away. It just makes them more dangerous and difficult.
And no … the fact that abortions happen is not at all like the Holocaust. I had living, breathing, educated, hard working relatives who were tortured to death in Nazi death camps, so that particular line of argument doesn't fly with me. If anyone ever said such a thing to my face, I'm not sure how I would react, but I am certain my usual happy-go-lucky and laid back demeanor would disappear in an instant. Thankfully in this case all I've had to do to resolve my anger was to write a blog post and stop buying a brand of roasted coffee beans, so no arrests will be necessary.
Note: I've edited out a lot of details, because I don't feel up to dealing with any hate mail on the subject of something that happened last year. If anyone local wants to know more, ask me. Or use your Google Fu. There is, in fact, enough information in this post (and with just a slim amount of knowledge about me) to find it on your own.