letters | civility and civil rights

No such thing as polite bigotry

Jeff Jacoby has “no problem” with Starbucks’ request that customers not bring their guns into its coffee shops (“A cup of civility,” Op-ed, Oct. 6), welcoming CEO Howard Schultz’s recent appeal as a model of civil behavior in an increasingly fractious society.

But Jacoby isn’t going soft here. He conflates gun ownership with civil rights, and he distorts Schultz’s request in order to conclude, in essence, that bigotry is OK as long as it’s practiced politely.


Jacoby goes on to wonder why a Christian florist should have to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding (read: sell to gay customers), or why a conservative landlord should have to rent to unmarried couples (replace “unmarried” with “interracial”).

Follow this logic, and a throwback to white-only restaurants and restricted country clubs would be acceptable as long as the decision-makers are well-mannered about it.

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Starbucks did not refuse to serve gun owners. Schultz acknowledged the rights of gun owners in “open carry” states, and politely asked them not to bring their weapons into his stores. Shame on Jacoby for trying to turn this into a Trojan horse against civil rights.

Nelson Checkoway


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