Aaron Blanco “Smiles”, Rescinds Apology

 
By 30 June 2011
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Aaron Blanco of Brown Coffee Company removed the apology from his website yesterday and posted this on his company blog today:

For a while Tuesday I considered closing the cafe for a day or a week to let this crud blow over, hoping maybe our military decided to bomb Bermuda or something so the subject could be changed.  Seriously.  We were a bit worried for our persons. But then I figured, why?  Why do I need to do anything differently?  I know who I am.  I’m not any of those things any of those people said about me.  And so we opened our doors like normal.  And something very normal happened.  People came in the door and they bought coffee.  Lots of it.  Extra bags of it.  Extra rounds of it.  They bought coffee gear, empty jute bags we have lying around and extra packs of coffee filters.  They bought drinks for people they’ve never bought drinks for.   They bought  Brown shirts for themselves that they already owned.  They bought practically anything that wasn’t nailed down.  And they smiled.  And it was good.  And there was much rejoicing.

I haven’t checked yet, but I think we had our second biggest sales day ever, second only to the last day before Christmas last year. And so I want to say thank you.  Thanks to all of you who showed us that while personal beliefs are, well, very personal, they do not have to be buried or compartmentalized; that we are undeniably whole people.  Thank you to all of you, those who tend to agree with my worldviews and to those who don’t, who came and supported us out of the principles of free speech.  Thank you for showing us that businesses are populated by people, not automatons; and people have feelings.  And there is nothing written anywhere that says that the people who run/own businesses cannot have opinions that some people consider unpopular, even in the name of the business.  That is part of what makes this country so great.  If you don’t like one business, go to another.  Take your dollars somewhere else.  Or start taking your dollars here.  It’s your choice. Just don’t act like a angry Cubs fan about it, is all.

 
  • Jeepers says:

    May I just say that I hate how easy it is to thumbdown and make comments disappear here? Most of the hidden comments aren’t even “that bad.”

    This Aaron Blanco guy just sounds like a douchebag, even if you forget about the homophobic part. And that’s enough for me. There are way too many great coffee shops to give your business to instead of to some jerkface.

    Reply
  • ryan gonzales johnson says:

    c’mon… homophobes, heterosexism and heteronormativity should be smashed… there’s no problem with that. There’s no higher road to take against inequality.

    Reply
  • Sam Tisdale says:

    I’ve been hooked on this story since it broke, since there’s nothing I love more than watching people do stupid, self-destructive things as Mr. Blanco has done here. (You’ll notice that nowhere in this post will I claim to be a nice guy).

    In any case, as of a few hours ago, enough people had flooded Yelp voicing their concerns with Mr. Blanco’s tweet to bring his overall rating down to 2.5 stars. Many of the posts were in the vein of “I am saddened since I can no longer support what was once my favorite coffee shop.”

    However, as of a few MINUTES ago, all of these posts have been cleared by Yelp’s moderators. I think that it’s probably safe to assume that this is because of a complaint made by Mr. Blanco?

    If so, it’s interesting that he stands adamantly behind free speech when it comes to himself, but feels the need to silence others who have made their opposing views known in a PUBLIC FORUM. Hypocrisy is fun!

    Reply
  • Joe Marrocco says:

    I like gay people.
    I like straight people.
    I like coffee people.
    I like tea people.
    I like people.
    But I don’t like the Cubs. GO CARDS!
    ~ Here’s to dumbing down threads. I just find all of this painful. some random fringe dude who is on the fence about who to please has an iPhone and tweets before he thinks. DISREGARD.

    So what’s going on in the coffee world today?

    Reply
  • Jason Dominy says:

    i like the Cubs.
    i like gay people.
    i like straight people.
    i still like the Cubs.

    Reply
  • Mb says:

    I know we are a minor of minorities, but does he need to slam homosexual cubs fans too? I’ll be working on my paper hat this weekend #YesEqual

    Reply
    • Brian says:

      I don’t like the Cubs either, but I do think Cubs fans should be allowed to marry one another, gay or straight.

      Reply
  • Brian G says:

    When you think of someone who is prejudiced, often you’ll think of someone spitting out vehement slurs. There are many more subtle ways to be prejudiced, however. Someone can be a nice person and be very kind and very obliging to their friends and customers, but if they approve of state-sanctioned heterosexual marriage that comes with a bunch of benefits and rights, and meanwhile disapprove of state-sanctioned homosexual marriage because gays are “not equal” (or that gay marriage is “just not the same”), I don’t care how kind they act, but they’re either really ignorant of their own privilege and bias and are acting like a jerk out of tradition and because people around them who they love and trust are doing it, or they’re just a knowing jerk. Either way, they’re thinking from a place of prejudice.

    I know it’s downright impossible to withdraw completely from ingrained prejudices of people who are different from you. I find it painful and shameful to confront my own prejudices. But the gracious thing to do in this case is to acknowledge when you’ve treated minorities like lesser persons and to learn from your missteps. By deleting his apology and acting smug that he can now laugh all the way to the bank, he’s shown what he thinks of sexual minorities, which is that they’re fodder to speak ill of in order to draw in the smiles (and dollarsigns) of a likewise prejudiced clientele… and that the apology was only an expedient way to stop people from calling him out, before his true feelings came out, that gays really do deserve to have their equal rights withheld.

    And yeah, it’s in his legal rights to express his views, but for those who recognize that Blanco is following in a tradition of marginalizing queer people (whether consciously or not), it is quite fair and proper to be disgusted.

    Reply
  • James King says:

    Please help me understand.

    If we expect OTHER people to be open, understanding, tolerant, patient, and loving of people they don’t know and understand, why is it OK to be so enraged and hateful towards someone who we SUSPECT of disagreeing with us.

    It is confusing to expect more from others that what we are willing to live up to.

    I know the family behind Brown well. In my frequent observation, he has treated ALL TYPES of people with full dignity and respect. MUCH more so than I have seen exhibited here on the site (or any other). His daily actions do not support any of the claims made against him in the recent media.

    Judging him and/or his family makes all of your arguments baseless. To fight ALLEGED and UNFOUNDED intolerance with further intolerance does not strengthen a cause, but rather renders it COMPLETELY IMPOTENT.

    I support Brown. He has more compassion, love and respect than this entire “online community”.

    Reply
    • Agiocambos says:

      James, you say you’ve seen Aaron treat “ALL TYPES of people with full dignity and respect.” How do you square that with his expressed views that gay people’s core relationships shouldn’t be fully **respected** by the law? How do you respond to incontrovertible evidence that he opposes granting their relationships the **full dignity** that straight married couples enjoy?

      Similarly, how can you characterize his intolerance as “ALLEGED” and “UNFOUNDED” when he has actually stated that gay people are not equal and their relationships are unnatural?

      Reread what you wrote, James: You wrote that Aaron is a victim of unfounded allegations of intolerance. It doesn’t make sense. His critics don’t “suspect” him of disagreeing with our belief that gay people deserve equal rights; he stated as much.

      So go ahead and stick by him if you want — I’m sure he has many, many good qualities that make your friendship rewarding — but please defend Aaron in a way that’s honest enough to acknowledge the fact that his words aren’t subject to various interpretations; they were clear statements — they couldn’t have been any clearer — that gay couples don’t deserve the same rights enjoyed by straight couples.

      Reply
  • B says:

    Let’s not forget he ended his horrible tweet with #notequal

    #notcool #nottrue #shouldnotbetolerated

    Reply
  • Brian G says:

    John: so you think that being tolerant of hateful views that aim to devalue the lives of minorities / queer people and staunchly express their inequality as human beings is a good way to have a healthy society?

    By all means Aaron Blanco is free to have his own opinions and voice them (though maybe his company’s twitter feed was an unwise place to do it), but you / he shouldn’t feel entitled to not be called out on his bullshit. Being a homophobe isn’t just another interesting worldview that we should embrace for the purposes of multiculturalism. It’s a set of views that categorically aim to maintain the privileges of straight people at the expense of others’ freedoms, and he is now proudly standing with those views. We as people for empathy and equality and justice have a right to voice our objections, and this is neither hypocritical nor inconsistent.

    We don’t have to kindly bow before Blanco’s bigotry for the purposes of creating a more “tolerant” society.

    Reply
    • John Warren says:

      Just so I’m clear, it seems like you are saying that being opposed to the legalization of gay marriage is a hateful view. I assure you, I have no hatred in my view on this issue and though I oppose gay marriage I do so not on a hateful or homophobic basis.

      This is exactly my point that everyone is slamming anyone who opposes gay marriage as a hateful bigot. I think we should be more careful in our categorization of people.

      Reply
      • Brian G says:

        Let me be clear, saying that non-straight people are not equal to straight people is actually the result of a powerful undercurrent of bigotry, whether you like it or not. You might be friendly and you might even have friends who are gay, but if you want our country’s laws to sanction and give the most rights to straight couples and many fewer rights to gay couples, you are trying to maintain a societal structure which devalues the lives and experiences of minorities.

        Consider the possibility for a moment that the heritage of Christian straight white male privilege in the USA has influenced the opinions of both you and me, normalizing inequalities in ways that are hard for us to even begin to understand. People who have the most privilege in our society often tend to lose sight of how being in their demographic puts them at severe advantage over other people, and that even if they don’t want to be a bigot, there are many ways in which they can perpetuate the existing societal inequalities, to, in effect, maintain their own privilege. Saying that homosexual relationships are not equal to heterosexual ones (and wanting laws to reflect that) is just one glaring instance of this in our current society.

        You don’t have to be in the KKK to be a racist and you don’t have to be in the Westboro Baptist Church to be a homophobe. Wanting our country’s laws to enforce inequalities and continually disadvantage people who do not fall under the pre-approved umbrella of societal privilege is just one way to be a more friendly bigot.

        I do not say this with hate. I just think it’s helpful to step back for a moment and examine one’s own privileges before deciding that other people’s freedoms are not as valuable as those who adhere to our society’s traditional place of privilege and power.

      • Anon says:

        What are your non-homophobic reasons for opposing gay marriage?

      • Rob says:

        John, you oppose gay marriage (equal rights) yet say you are not hurtful, hateful or homophobic. I’d say that makes you clueless.

      • Brian says:

        That sounds an awful lot like, “I’m not racist, I just don’t think white and black people should be allowed to marry.”

  • John Warren says:

    I don’t think that being opposed to a categorical change in the definition of marriage is the same as being racist or anti-semetic. Blanco might not have chosen his words well, but most people seem to be bashing him not for that but for simply not sharing the same view point. His company will suffer consequences and it probably should. My point is simply that coming out and slamming him so vehemently for being intolerant smells of the very thing you condemn him for. Be frustrated and angry at the way he chose to express his opinions and his poor use of words, but not his opinion.

    Reply
    • Anon says:

      I think people were largely bashing him for the flipant and dismissive tone he used in the anti-gay tweet. His use of the #NotEqual hashtag was especially spiteful. And it’s not “intollerant” to disagree with someone about public policy.

      Personally, more than his anti-gay views (which are sadly rather common), I find his defesiveness and equivocation in the face of criticism to be the most irritiating. He’s being a whiney, passive-agressive martyr about the whole thing. Either own your anti-gay views and face the consequences, or appologize and call it a day.

      Reply
  • Jon Schumer says:

    I hope the bigots in Texas who defend this moron enjoy the ‘frothy mix’ on his coffees.

    Reply
  • Mark Inman says:

    You’re right, John. I should probably be more tolerant. What a hypocrite I am being. While I am at it I should be much more tolerant- heck, loving to anti-semites and racists as well.

    For the sake of consistency and all….

    Reply
    • Mark Derby says:

      Most know only the first few words of the familiar Emerson quote. Take the time to read all of it:

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

      #YesEqual!!

      Reply
  • John Warren says:

    Interesting to me that people who slam Blanco for being intolerant are so fiercely intolerant themselves of his views. A little consistency would be nice.

    Reply
    • Chris says:

      Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences

      Tolerance does not require tolerating bigotry

      Reply
    • Anon says:

      I don’t think anyone is being “fiercely intollerant” of Blanco’s views. No one is saying he shouldn’t be allowed to express his disapproval of gays (though some have said he was foolish to do so for financial reasons). Many people have said that they disagree with his views, but that’s not intollerance; that’s debating issues in a free society. Another part of living in a free society is the right to choose what businesses to patronize, and a few folks have decided that they’d rather not patronize Blanco’s business because of his views. But that’s hardly intollerance.

      Reply
      • John Warren says:

        this isn’t “fiercely intolerant”

        “I guess racists, bigots, hate-mongers and brainwashed religious nuts need a place to get their coffee to.”

        from the first comment…

        seems like it to me

    • Rob says:

      It’s not intolerant to be sickened by those who desire to keep equal rights away from others, much less those who actively seek to ban those rights. Appeasement didn’t work in Nazi Germany in 1939 and it doesn’t work with bigots, anti-Semites, homophobes and their ilk in America in 2011 either.Speaking of bile, his last blog brings a little throw-up to my throat, it’s so grotesque.

      Reply
  • anonononon says:

    Yes, but how is their espresso?

    Reply
  • Anon says:

    Blanco’s responses have been a bit bipolar. First, he explains that his anti-gay tweet was really just about Plato and he was misunderstood. Then, he posts a heartfelt appology and pulls the “classical philosophy” post. Now, he’s pulled the appology, owning his anti-gay views, saying that businesses should be allowed to have views on social issues, and comlaining about the manner in which those who disagree with him are expressing their views. He’s really all over the place.

    He’s lucky that he’s in Texas, though. I can’t immagine what the fallout would have been if, say, Stumptown had done such a thing. Overall, I think it will hurt his business, since most fancy-coffee drinkers are fairly liberal and find homophobia distasteful.

    Reply
  • Mark Inman says:

    “you’re ” instead of “your’re” ….damn outrage clouding my ability to write clearly….

    Reply
  • Mark Inman says:

    that woudl be “too” and not “to.” Zachary, please allow us to edit….

    Reply
  • Mark Inman says:

    “And they smiled. And it was good. And there was much rejoicing.” Rejoicing what? That you’re a segregationist who believes only certain people deserve the right to marry? That you had the balls to issue a string of mealy-mouthed half apologies only to finally man up and show your true colors?

    I guess racists, bigots, hate-mongers and brainwashed religious nuts need a place to get their coffee to. Thank your God that they finally have a place to feel at home.

    Go, get’em Aaron, Your’re really living the dream!

    Reply
    • Rob says:

      Thanks Mark, all the polite discourse to a man with such extreme views has been a bit silly, you called Aaron out so clearly, with no punches pulled. Putting it mildly but simply, he’s a nutter, hardly deserves another thought and certainly isn’t worthy of forcing simple grammatical errors on one so literary as yourself. Get a grip Mark!

      Reply
    • Al says:

      Mark, you sound like the very thing you detest.

      Al

      Reply
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