Catering to unreasonable whims helps no one

Mike Brantley

Catering to unreasonable whims helps no one

By now, you've probably heard or read the story about the six police officers who were asked to leave a Tempe, Arizona, coffee shop.

The reason they were asked to leave is that they were being policemen, and that made one customer uncomfortable.

My first reaction upon seeing this story was that it had to be one of those Fifteen Minutes of Fame stories. You know the ones, like the woman who licked the tub of ice cream and put it back on the shelf of a grocery store.

A friend videoed it and put it on social media because so many Americans are addicted to attention and nothing is off limits to obtain it. It doesn't even matter if it is positive or negative attention.

Unfortunately, this case was real.

According to The Washington Post, the six officers were standing with their coffees near the pickup counter. They were about to go on duty.

A customer in the shop approached a Starbucks employee multiple times to complain about the officers' presence. The employee explained that the officers were regulars and were not in the store because they had been called. The customer persisted.

At that point, the employee asked the officers to "move out of the customer's line of sight or to leave," the story read.

The officers chose to leave.

It's hard to process the times we live in when we see things like this.

First of all, it is hard to imagine an employee of any store asking six customers to leave an establishment at the request of one other customer.

This is especially nuts because the six were not causing a disturbance. It's even more unreal when those being asked to leave are people whose job it is to protect the citizens of the town.

There are so many things wrong here.

First, why would anyone in their right mind be worried about the presence of police in a store, especially after finding out the police aren't there on a call?

The knee jerk reaction would be to ask if the person who was uncomfortable perhaps had been in trouble before. The next reaction might be, if the person was so uncomfortable about the situation, why not leave?

The Post, to its discredit, tried to justify the offensiveness of the police by citing a police shooting in January in Tempe. In that case, a teenager carrying an airsoft handgun was shot by a policeman who was responding to a call of someone stealing from a yard. The boy was shot as he was running away.

There have been plenty of heavily reported police shootings over the last several years. Some were bad cops doing bad things; some were poor choices made in a split second; all were tragedies.

But it is a leap to assume that all police are bad people. It's just wrong and if nothing else, statistically irrational.

We've come a long way since September 11, 2001. I remember that for about a year, all police, firemen and first responders were considered heroes and put on a pedestal for the acts of courage and sacrifice made that day.

I remember going to so many ballgames and other public events where officers were put on a pedestal that I remarked several times that public opinion can't maintain this.

Because if there is one thing the American media likes to do, it is go after its heroes. The media loves a rising star and loves helping to make one. Then, once that star is made, the hunt is on for flaws.

We see it with the rich, the powerful, professional athletes, politicians and certainly with historical figures.

I had a business in Nashville for 18 years and I always enjoyed having law enforcement on the premises. There was a restaurant in town that was a frequent hotspot for them, and I always thought that customers knew it was the safest place to be at lunch and that was one reason it was so busy (the food was pretty good, too).

I've written about this before, and make no mistake -- there are certainly bad people in law enforcement in this country, just as there are bad people in education, restaurants, retail and every other profession.

Many have called for a boycott of Starbucks over this, and that seems silly, just as the boycott that was called for over a year ago when two men were arrested at a Starbucks while they were waiting for friends.

This was just another case of an employee making a poor decision, not the reflection of an entire company. Starbucks has apologized and I'm not sure what else they can do.

I take that back: there is something they can and something more people in this country can do -- use some dern common sense more often.

People like to throw around the word "privilege" like it is some kind of weapon these days.

There is nothing more privileged than thinking the world is supposed to accommodate each person's individual whim or perceived slight. It's time the adults step up and stop this nonsense.