The recent decision by Starbucks to allow everybody - panhandlers and the homeless to use their bathrooms helps us understand the some of the reasons why we as a nation are having trouble dealing with people who do not wish to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It's a great idea to help the homeless and others. It's just that it's not the best idea to give them de facto rights to use bathrooms for any purpose at a restaurant.
In a way, this decision helps us understand why there has been so much unnecessary suffering and killing at public schools. All of the school shootings in recent memory had some kind of warning that was ignored by school officials.
The last was the boy who wore a trench coat and a T-shirt to school that read “Born to Kill. The trench coat was black with a German insignia medal. But his family and the school didn't know anything and that he was a nice boy.
For most people, wearing a shirt like that is a warning sign. The wise thing to do would be to tell him and his parents to find something else for him to wear, or don’t come to school. Likewise, all school officials, by this time, should know enough to pay attention to facebook postings.
But in a public school climate that values self-expression above all else, teachers and school officials probably thought that a boy wearing a T-shirt that said “Born to Kill,” should not be criticized because it was his right as a student. School officials in Florida did something similar: in order to have a better image for their school, they left Nicolas Cruz in school when he should have been expelled.
It’s amazing that the victim’ families have not filed a law suit against the school districts. The Columbine, Colorado school shooting was similar, with plenty of warning signs. Both students were considered outcasts. The clothing they wore did not fit in; they referred to themselves as the trench coat mafia; they also dressed in Gothic-style clothing, with long, black coats.
Even after the tragedy, instead of guarding the school against bad behavior, school officials in Littleton simply banned all black clothing at Columbine high school.
We have not learned a lot. Because two black men were arrested for not leaving a restaurant, after a manager made a bad decision, Starbucks announced that every store will be sort of a half way house for the indigent. After all, it’s not right that some people who can’t afford to buy things should have to find a bathroom somewhere else, is it?
Cellphone footage shows police talking to the two men sitting at a table before handcuffing them and leading them outside. Their friend arrives, a white man identified as real estate developer Andrew Yaffe, and tells police they were waiting for him, but an officer says the men were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.
Melissa DePino tweeted this:
“The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
CEO Kevin Johnson called the incident “reprehensible.” For a liberal company like Starbucks, with headquarters in Seattle, that is really bad.
The new policy, called “Third Place Policy” maintains that employees should consider anyone who enters Starbucks space, including restrooms, cafes and patios, a customer “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”
“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said.
But some Starbucks see problems ahead: one Starbucks restaurant in Chicago currently has problems with homeless people using the bathroom and causing problems. Other stores have become hubs for drug activity.
In short, Starbucks should have left the policy alone. The challenge is that Starbucks has to distinguish between people who are supposed to be there for legitimate purposes, and those who could potentially become a problem. That's not easy for some executives.
And it’s a common problem for people who don’t have common sense solutions to very basic problems. They often attempt to solve problems is by simply trying to make themselves feel better, to assuage their guilt. It's not enough to simply tell the public that they made a mistake.
That’s why they have to overcorrect the problem, thus causing another problem that is potentially worse. They have to attempt to correct public perception; they have to get credit in the public eye for forming a new policy. It does not matter if it works or not.
Likewise with school officials who often follow policies that are the result of training by liberal professors. They keep students in their school who are dangerous to students. They don't know anything about the students who are troubled because they have to treat everybody the same and can't be seen discriminating against any student no matter what they done or how dangerous they are.
Soon, Starbucks stores will have to hire annoying security guards or police to guard their well behaved customers. Instead, maybe Starbucks they should take the armed school resource officers at public schools and have them hang out at Starbucks restaurants. Public schools could implement the same Third Place Policy for dangerous students who should be expelled.
Instead of annoying other students, school resource officers could take the students to get coffee at Starbucks and help the students safely use the bathroom. Safety would come in Third Place at both public schools and Starbucks. Expelled students could learn from the homeless the proper way to use a Starbucks bathroom.
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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