Singapore’s Chua Chin Hon wrote in the Straits Times in 2003, “I’m no anti-globalization protestor, nor am I about to become one.” But after the “American coffee giant” – his words – opened in Beijing’s Forbidden City, he thought he could understand “a little of the rage against the global capitalist machinery’s relentless and oft-times, senseless drive to sell a few more cups of coffee, burgers, or T-shirts.” Yet he still believed in consumer power. “We can . . . send out an unequivocal message by voting with our wallets.” No more Starbucks for him until it got out of the Forbidden City. In 2007, Rui Chenggang, a news anchor for Chinese Central Television, renewed the call to get Starbucks out of the 587-year old royal residence also known as the Palace Museum. He and his supporters accused the coffee company of tainting “China’s national culture.” Looking to pressure Starbucks, he called for a boycott of the company everywhere in China until it closed shop in the Forbidden City.
Turns out this boycott was successful, sort of. The Starbucks in the Forbidden City did close, but now at that same spot is a Chinese owned coffee shop that sells lattes out of white cups with green logos.
Like Chua Chin Hon and Rui Chenggang, a large cross-section boycotters are trying to get Starbucks to stop doing something and thereby protect something they value. Forty-four year old James Hartline told me over the phone that he used to be gay. “I was in that lifestyle for thirty years,” he admitted. He continued, actually he barely took a breath when we talked, that he knew first hand how destructive this gay world could be. Too many drugs, too much sex, too much pornography, too many men into S & M and “cold steal chains,” and too many pedophiles. As a Christian, he declared, he wanted to save the children of his city. By sponsoring the San Diego Gay Pride Parade and other “homosexual foundations,” he argued, Starbucks supported this “lifestyle” of triple X pornography, causal sex, and the recruitment of the young. “I can’t stand on sidelines any longer,” Hartline proclaimed, “its like the Nazis taking the Jews away. I would stand in the train tracks. Lack of action is very dangerous.” With this in mind, Hartline used the web and speeches to call on all true Christians to boycott Starbucks and stop the spread of homosexuality.
Hartline claimed success as well in his blog. He said that Starbucks heard him and closed a bunch of stores. He might have confused this move with the company's responses to the economic crisis.