Monday, April 14, 2008


David Boaz, blogging for the Cato Institute, David Boaz reports on a landmark victory for the forces of good:

I just talked to Brad Stevens, who runs the customized card programs and much else at Starbucks, about how the company came to reject customers' request for customized cards featuring the call to arms "Laissez Faire." In my Wall Street Journal article on Monday, I noted that customers had had requests for "Laissez Faire" rejected, while "People Not Profits" and "Si Se Puede" were approved. I wondered "just what the company’s standards were. If 'laissez-faire' is unacceptably political, how could the socialist slogan 'people not profits' be acceptable?"

Stevens assures me that the company has no intention of approving or rejecting personal messages on the basis of ideology. Only a very small number of requests are rejected by the review team at the contractor who actually fulfills the orders, mostly because they are obscene, are insulting to the company or to a specific person, infringe on trademarks, are overtly political, or in some other way associate the Starbucks brand with images the company doesn't want....

Stevens says the rejection of "Laissez Faire" was just an unintended outcome of the instructions that the company gave its supplier. And indeed, Jonathan Adler reports today on the Volokh Conspiracy that a VC reader inspired by my op-ed has received his Starbucks Customized Card proudly carrying the message "Laissez Faire." ...

There are tears of joy streaming down my cheeks as I read that last sentence. The Magna Carta ... Brown v. Board of Education ... and now this. The People have stood up to The Powerful, and freedom is on the march.

What Brown, say, was for African-Americans, this is for another oppressed class: everyone who chooses to subsume a personal identity in corporate branding. Don't those people deserve rights, too?

Seriously -- I agree with Boaz that banning "Laissez Faire" wasn't really fair, but why the hell does anyone feel the driving urge to personalize a freaking Starbucks card?

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