The Raving Theist

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Feisty and Shrewd

August 3, 2005 | 63 Comments

You can read the Universist’s side of their dispute with the Cool Beans coffee shop here, and some other background on the controversy here. Personally, I’m not sure whether a coffee shop is the best battleground for shrill theological debates — I thought the public schools were proper place for that. But I do know that at an atheist website, the Christian side of the matter (if that’s what it really is) is always welcome to pull up a chair and set a awhile. So here’s the uncensored, unedited version of events from Cool Beans owner Amy Anderson. Quite frankly, I’d never thought I’d see the day when the main page of a corporate website would be devoted to defending itself against charges of discrimination against atheists:

Due to recent events involving Cool Beans Coffee House and a group, the Universists, I am compelled to make a statement to clarify the position of Cool Beans on meetings by various groups and/or individuals in Cool Beans.

First of all, historically, Cool Beans has been a meeting place for many different types of groups and individuals. We’ve enjoyed greatly this non-homogenous dynamic that has evolved within our place of business. We’ve embraced the diversity that is represented in our clientele on a daily basis. This fact is evidenced by the ongoing use of our location by both secular and faith-based groups and events.

As an owner of Cool Beans, I have to make decisions on behalf of the business in order to assure that our atmosphere is one that is inviting, non-threatening, and peaceful. These qualities are essential to the life and prosperity of Cool Beans. And so, to that end, I made a decision recently to close our location to the Universists, as a group, for a place to conduct meetings. The facts related to this situation are as follows:

Recently, I was approached by several members of my staff stating that a representative from the Universists was questioning the disappearance of brochures that had been placed within Cool Beans, and was apparently angry. As I later came to know, Ford Vox was this representative. He questioned the employees regarding the brochures and asked if the owner was Christian. I spoke to Mr. Vox shortly thereafter during which time he let me know that his intentions were to have his group meet at Cool Beans. I stated that I was unaware of his group in general, but that I was uncomfortable having them meet at my store as a group. I welcomed Mr. Vox, and any individual associated with the Universists stating that they would always be treated fairly and with the same respect extended to all customers of Cool Beans.

The basis for this decision on my part was a direct result of the the message presented on their literature which, in my opinion was blatantly antagonistic. The Universists boast on their literature a reputation of being “Especially feisty and shrewd”, as quoted by the New York Times. Other verbage suggests that the group is interested in “radical uprisings” against, in their words, “the faithful”. As a business owner, I cannot provide a venue for any such religious or political platforms which may result in the disruption of a peaceful business environment.

During my conversation with Mr. Vox, he asked if I was “Christian”. To this, I responded simply “yes”. This is a fact about me personally, but is not the basis for my decision as Mr. Vox has stated in recent publications.

Unfortunately, the facts about this situation have been misconstrued not only by the Universists, but by local congregations as well. To clarify any misinformation that may have been published, I am going on record now stating that we at Cool Beans have no policy prohibiting any group or individual from meeting here based on race, gender, age, sexual,or religious orientation. Any decision to deny access to Cool Beans as a meeting place is based solely on factors that may interrupt the normal flow of business and profitability.

Cool Beans Coffee House, Inc. is open to all individuals regardless of religious preference, race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. However, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who may disrupt the normal flow of business. Our policy is that any group meetings consisting of 10 or more participants are to be scheduled in advance with the owner(s) and/or manager.

Thank you for your interest in Cool Beans. Please address any questions or comments regarding this matter to I will attempt to provide additional clarification as needed.


Amy Anderson, President
Cool Beans Coffee House, Inc.

Brian Flemming’s analysis is here.


63 Responses to “Feisty and Shrewd”

  1. Eva
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 10:02 am

    i have an uncle that ran for mayor of Homewood in the early 70’s…..he is married to my father’s sister…..puertorrican, of course….
    he lost! (was the racial impurity of my cousins the reason?)

  2. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 10:11 am

    Why would any self-respecting universist want to meet at a place like this and give his money to someone like Amy Anderson? Anyway, I prefer my coffee bodily fluid free, thank you. But don’t worry, this problem will go away once the Christians get enough political power that they can herd all the atheists, agnostics, deists, Hindus, Muslims, et al, into concentration camps.

  3. Mijae
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 10:54 am

    At first I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt with the large group thing. Until I read that plenty of Christian GROUPS use the place regularly. Whoops!

  4. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 11:15 am

    Another example of how Christians are being persecuted, even in their own private coffee houses. There seems to be nowhere they can go without scumbag Atheists pursuing them, trying to convert them to their disgusting lifestyle.
    Well, except their schools, churches, homes, politics, Boy/Girl Scouts, Knights of Columbus, Alcoholics Anonymous, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Overeaters Anonymous, ETC., ETC., ETC.
    Maybe someday these poor, persecuted folk will find someplace they can call their own, but until then they’ll just have to struggle to make their voices heard.

  5. Dave
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 11:22 am

    Well, on the other hand, the way the Universits are going about it doesn’t sound exactly “shrewd.”

    Besides, you have to meet in secret – with special handshakes ‘n shit. We’re being watched.

  6. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 11:35 am

    I read this and I had to post again:
    This is from US News’ web site
    “In an increasingly religious America, the nonreligious have begun painting themselves as a persecuted minority.”

    I feel like Gulliver waking up in the land of the Stupids. This is a definitive statement intended to appear to convey fact and not intended to appear to convey opinion.

    “In an increasingly religious America”
    Where are the facts regarding this part of the statement?

    “the nonreligious have begun painting themselves as a persecuted minority”
    Well, this statement certainly conveys an attitude of incredulity regarding whether or not the “nonreligous” are truly persecuted. When someone says that a group has “begun painting themselves as” anything, the intent isn’t to show that the claim is true, only that the group is “painting themselves” that way.

  7. Seth
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 11:58 am

    Well, I think it is obvious that America is more religious than 50 years ago; at least, more religious people are in power.

    However, atheists are certainly not trying to look like a minority. Wasn’t it a Chrisian group who said that the Supreme’s Court 10 C’s decision was a step towards the end of the persecution of people of faith….of?

    Seriously, the Christians are claiming that they are being persecuted. It makes me mad.

  8. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    Vern, I can’t give you many facts regarding an “increasingly religious America” (in the first place what is meant by “increasingly religious”), but I’ve been around awhile, and it seems that the fundies are more vocal, in your face, and empowered than they have ever been in my life time.

    One anecdote. When I was in the military, some twenty years ago, fundies were a ridiculed minority. The military was a mostly secular institution. The opposite seems to be true today. I can’t remember the source, but an article I read the other day claimed that the nuttiest bunch of evangelics, who comprise about 15% of the US population, make up about 40% of the military. And on another front, the fundie nutters have taken over the Republican party.

    So, perhaps the population isn’t “increasingly religious,” but the religious among us seem to be more strident and more powerful than they have been in the past. Don’t forget, God made their very own nutjob president. So if the political power of the lunatic fringe is increasing, is the country “increasingly religious?”

    As far as what you quoted from the “news” article goes, the obvious intent of what was said is to marginalize anyone who isn’t “religious.” Not a big surprise coming from stenographers to power.

  9. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 12:27 pm

    My point isn’t whether or not America is increasingly religious. It might be, depending on how the phrase is defined. Would you say the Clintons are religious, or would you say they’re powerless? My point is that a biased asshole is writing crap that doesn’t need facts to back it up, just popular opinion. And it’s being expressed in a venue that would claim to be non-partisan.

    I could easily say, “it’s obvious that all religious zealots are ignorant shitheads who are out to sodomize children”. Where’s my evidence, let alone proof? No need for that, IT’S OBVIOUS.
    It obvious there aren’t that many homosexuals in the world, ’cause if there were more they’d tell us, right? It’s obvious that Bush has my best interests at heart, he told me so. It’s obvious that there’s a God, stupid, ’cause if there wasn’t, religious people would just be deluded assholes.

    I agree that it seems like the religous zealots hold power for the moment, but that could change quickly. The beauty of the two party system is that, once people get unhappy enough, they vote the other way.
    My point, ultimately, is that stating something is obvious without stating why is the beginning of a fallacious argument.

  10. Mahmood
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 12:42 pm

    Well, it seems to me that the coffee shop should be able to serve who it pleases. If the US had a capitalist economy it would be so. Regardless of the proprietier’s motives, she ought to be able to run her business the way she sees fit. And if an universist owns a coffee shop, they should be about to refuse service to religious people. Mind you, a true businessman would run a business for the sake of making money and not religious reasons, but thats irrelevent. People should be free, but civil liberty laws give some people freedom, at the expense of others’ freedom.

  11. Mahmood
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 12:42 pm

    Well, it seems to me that the coffee shop should be able to serve who it pleases. If the US had a capitalist economy it would be so. Regardless of the proprietier’s motives, she ought to be able to run her business the way she sees fit. And if an universist owns a coffee shop, they should be about to refuse service to religious people. Mind you, a true businessman would run a business for the sake of making money and not religious reasons, but thats irrelevent. People should be free, but civil liberty laws give some people freedom, at the expense of others’ freedom.

  12. AK
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

    Just to clarify:

    America is becoming less religious in terms of numbers (nonreligious population doubled in the last ten years).

    But, America is becoming more religious in terms of polarity (religious people are getting more passionate about their faith, even if their total percentage of the population is shrinking) and they hold more political power of course.

  13. leon
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

    Well it

  14. Kafkaesquí
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 1:06 pm

    You’re correct, Mahmood. And if business owners don’t want to serve African Americans, or people with funny accents, or the blind, or women, or folks with names like Mahmood, that’s their right.

  15. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 1:21 pm

    Anyone here in the US can, if they have the resources, open a private club that caters to whomever they please. However, if the establishment is considered public, then they cannot discriminate against groups or individuals based on their race, religion (or nonreligion), age, gender, or sexual orientation. If you want to live in a world where these forms of discrimination are ok, then you can’t complain when anyone does it to you. I don’t believe it should be allowed, even in a capitalist society, because some people will acquire money and power in such a society, and if not checked, they will express their prejudices in the exercise of their power. Imagine Bill Gates buys all insurance companies and refuses to insure any (insert random group here). Any new insurance companies that attempt to insure that group are immediately purchased by Gates. Is that the kind of society that you want?
    Now, there’s no need to imagine a world where atheists feel screwed, since even the president said “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots”.

  16. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 2:48 pm

    Vern, I understood your point, and I agree with you.

    Also, when you say: “My point is that a biased asshole is writing crap that doesn’t need facts to back it up, just popular opinion. And it’s being expressed in a venue that would claim to be non-partisan.”

    I would merely change “would claim” to “does claim” and say that pretty much describes the main-stream US media.

  17. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

    Mahmood: “If the US had a capitalist economy it would be so.”

    That’s a pretty big “if,” and also pretty much irrelevant since there has never been a “capitalist” economy, probably never will be, and certainly never will be in the US. I work in a segment of the economy run strictly in the interests of those with political and economic power, and we pretend that it is a “free-market” while we create a system that accomodates only these priviledged players with new tailor-made rules (deregulation in politicospeak) that socialize their losses and their risks while privatizing their profits. In the old days, before the Nazis made the term unpopular, this used to be called fascism.

    I have anarcho-libertarian inclinations, but the major problem with those of the libertarian bent seems to be that they make their political decisions based on market theory, instead of market reality. It is structurally impossible for there to be a free-market in the United States, especially since those with political and economic power don’t want one. Before I cleared my cognitive dissonance between economic theory and political reality I would have said the same thing you did about ownership. Now I know that Vernichten is right and the law must be used to mitigate and balance the accumulation of power that one group acquires over another.

    If the world was full of people like the RA, maybe libertarianism and capitalism could work like it does in theory, and maybe the world would be better off for it. Ironically, it seems that the worst people for advancing libertarianism are libertarians themselves, since they are quick to support policy and legislation in the real world that increases the power of those who already have it at the expense of those who don’t, and distorts the marketplace, all based on its efficacy in a theoretical world which can never exist.

  18. choobus
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

    there are some places that have a built in discrimination and nobody seems to care so why not just let it be blatant. There are some bars where you had better not go in if you happen to be white (and, I dare say some whites only establishments as well). I don’t see anyone getting up in arms about it. Admittedly they don’t have a “fuck whitey” sign on the door but the end result is the same. I’m sick of the white man being held down like this. On the other hand, I would welcome an atheist coffe shop.

  19. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 3:29 pm

    “On the other hand, I would welcome an atheist coffe shop.”

    Well, maybe there are enough atheists in a place like NY for this, but in 99% of the country this would be impossible. Not only would you not have enough customers, I can assure you that where I live, if you promoted any kind of atheist business the Christians would do whatever it took to drive you out of business –and I mean “whatever.”

    Any of these particular cases may be no big deal –I personally wouldn’t spend money in a place like Cool Beans– but if this kind of behavior is accepted, and becomes acceptable, then if you’re not a white Christian Republican Bush supporter with a with a magnetic yellow ribbon and an American flag on your car, you should be prepared to take a regular fucking.

  20. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

    Concerning a coffee shop who will not cater to atheists: who cares? Go to another coffee shop, start your own business, make your own coffee, or just don’t go. There are a few comments on this thread stating that capitalism will not work for the powerless (or something to that effect). But don’t forget the Montgomery Bus boycott for those of you who think we need the government to step in to tell us all how to act–hurt a business where it matters most, its profits. We have more power than you give us credit for. If you live in a small town (I used to–or at least everyone acted like it was a small town), but if you live in a small town and don’t have as much access to goods and services as a big metropolis–you’ve got a computer, use it. We can now order just about anything online that we want. You don’t have to go to the one cheesy mall that has the one coffee shop which is full of uneducated Christian rednecks. We should stop giving more and more power to our government. Look at our current president. If he were really able to do what he wanted, don’t you think we’d live in a theocracy where we’d be persecuted and executed? I say, let the market decide. Please don’t advocate yet more power given to our governmental institutions–we can deal with it ourselves.

  21. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

    Right, the power to stop discrimination shouldn’t be given to the government, it should rest in the hands of those with computers, or those who live in the big cities. If someone gets enough wealth to discriminate against you, good for them, huh? After all, there’s always somewhere else to buy your goods, live or work, even if you live in a small town and don’t have a computer.

  22. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:19 pm

    Of course it’s always so much easier to play the victim and hope that a government we barely trust helps us out, huh? Why not go further and allow the government to take care of us completely?

  23. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:25 pm

    “There are a few comments on this thread stating that capitalism will not work for the powerless (or something to that effect).”

    If this is what you took from my remarks you misunderstood them. What I actually said is that when you pretend we live in a free-market capitalist system when deciding appropriate law and legislation you’re undermining the very freedom you purport to find important. I think your heart is in the right place but you seem to be swallowing a lot of that pervasive propaganda about “capitalism” and “freedom.”

    I’d love for you to enlighten me about that Montogomery Bus boycott, and just how you think racial segregation ended in the south. Are you seriously asserting that boycotts are what changed racial practices in the US? Wow, how simple. No Civil Rights legislation, no federal law enforcement, no troops necessary –just some boycotts. That damm Eisenhower called out the 101st Airborne for nothing.

    Daniel: “Look at our current president. If he were really able to do what he wanted, don’t you think we’d live in a theocracy where we’d be persecuted and executed? I say, let the market decide.”

    Here it’s not clear to me what you’re advocating. What market? Decide what? Are you talking about the government or are you still talking about coffee shops? As far as the Chimp goes, one thing at a time –give him a chance. He lied the country into attacking Iraq and is responsible for about 2,000 dead American soldiers, another 20,000 or so maimed for life, and about 100,000 dead Iraqis. Consequences: zero. Fuck, Clinton got impeached for lying about a consensual blowjob. He’s gutted the Constitution and approved torture as an instrument of US policy. Consequences: zero. He and his ilk are stacking the Federal Bench with Christian clones, and he’s about to change the makeup of the Supreme Court. Just what do you think these people are going to do with all this power?

  24. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

    You’re right, we should abolish the government. Then everything would be sweetness and cake. Where do you live, anyways, that doesn’t reap some benefit from the government? Nowhere in the US, that’s for certain. Would you pave your own roads? How’s that school you built? Would you watch a cripple starve? How about the elderly? Would you say a starving cripple is just trying to “play the victim”? How would you defend yourself against a gang of armed thugs at your door? Don’t call the police, they’ll just try to tell you what to do, huh?

  25. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    Here I thought we were talking about going into a coffee shop, not ending racial (or any other kind of) discrimination. It’s like the anti-smoking laws here in California. We don’t need the government to step in there. If I don’t like smoking I’ll stop going to restaurants that allow it. I’ll make a stink about it to the owner. I’ll have a group to protest that restaurant. The owners will get the point and change their behavior. I don’t think the Montgomery bus boycott ended racial discrimination in our society. I do think it shows how much power we as consumers have.

  26. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:43 pm

    This whole thing is about discrimination. It might help to read the original post by Raving Atheist before posting in the comments section.

  27. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:45 pm

    I’m quite a good reader thank you. It’s about discrimination in a coffee shop. Maybe you should learn about distinctions.

  28. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 5:02 pm

    I don’t mind being educated, please enlighten me as to the distinction between discrimination and discrimination in a coffee shop.

  29. choobus
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    who are these fucking universalists anyway? Maybe they deserve to booted out. I mean, I have no problem with monkeys, in fact I rather like them, but if they come in my coffee shop and start throwing poop all over the place then they are going to be asked to leave and that’s that. It seems like the same sort of thing

  30. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 5:09 pm

    They didn’t boot them for acting badly, they booted them for thinking wrongly.

  31. choobus
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

    well no, they booted them out because they were interfering with Bill, the most powerful god of al (dollar Bill that is). Since they are universalists you would think they wouldn’t mind going anywhere else.

  32. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 5:55 pm

    Choobus: “well no, they booted them out because they were interfering with Bill, the most powerful god of al (dollar Bill that is).”

    Really, I reread the article and assoicated material and couldn’t find any evidence that they were interfering with Cool Beans making money. There were presumably going to spend money there. The owner herself never says they interferred with making money. She said:

    1. I cannot provide a venue for any such religious or political platforms which may result in the disruption of a peaceful business environment.

    2. Any decision to deny access to Cool Beans as a meeting place is based solely on factors that may interrupt the normal flow of business and profitability.

    3. However, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who may disrupt the normal flow of business.

    So, she used the word “may” three times. They apparently haven’t been booted out of Starbucks or anyplace else they’ve held a meeting. I don’t know what the truth is here, but the evidence seems to support the universists, and suggests the owner of Cool Beans is lying to cover her ass in a possible law suit. And on a more personal note, my experience with Christians tells me that they let the lies flow freely whenever the truth could be a problem.

  33. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 6:13 pm


    Sorry, I’m at work so I can’t respond to you as quickly as I’d like. But you asked me to enlighten you, so here goes (tell me what you think):

    The difference between discrimination and discrimination in a coffee shop is this: from my reading of the Constitution and knowledge of U.S. history you have no fundamental right to patronize any business you’d like. Actually, you could make a strong argument that a business owner, being a private citizen, has every right to deny service to whomever they’d like in their business. I’m sure you know about the Interstate Commerce clause in the Constitution and how the courts successfully used that as a basis to force business owners to allow people into their places. But personally, I think, as do many others, that the courts used a very weak argument to get around the fact that there is no basis for making business owners serve patrons they don’t want to serve.

    Earlier, mention was made about Bush’s appointments of Christian clones in our courts. This only shows yet again the need for very limited powers in government, not more powers ceded to them. If you look back in our history, read the Federalist papers, read the letters of our founding fathers, read the Constitution, it is obvious that our government was envisioned as a very limited one with very limited powers. They saw the folly in giving to much power to government–the obvious abuse of power this might engender. If our president were one you liked and appointed judges you liked I’m sure you wouldn’t care, but since it’s the other way around you complain–and rightly so. But I think if the government has very little power over us in the first place, then it doesn’t really matter that much what their ideology is.

    And please don’t cry about anarchy. I’m not advocating that. I’m just advocating that we allow ourselves more personal responsibility in our lives and stop looking to the government as the solution to all of our problems. The thing that disgusts me the most about that kind of mentality is that it strikes me as so Christian. (Read “The Genealogy of Morality” by Friedrich Nietzsche and you’ll see what I mean when I speak about a Christian (slave) mentality.)

    Be proud of yourself and your power. You don’t need a God (government) to do everything for you. Take care of yourself. Don’t look to others to take care of you.

  34. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 6:27 pm

    Oh, and btw, the three statements I quoted above are full of weasel words, and essentially mean nothing. A whole bunch of new customers coming in and spending money would “interrupt the normal flow of business and profitablity.” In that case, the “normal” profitability would be interrupted by higher than normal profits.

    I also don’t believe the owner wrote this statement. It sounds to me like it was written by her attorney –though apparently not a very smart attorney. It is carefully crafted to extract a justification that sounds rational and nondiscriminatory but would seem to contain a rather large logical flaw, since the sequence of events it describes goes:

    1. Approached by employees
    2. Told that a customer was angry and questioning the disappearance of pamphlets
    3. Spoke to Mr. Vox –aka the “angry customer”
    4. Was told of his intentions to meet with his group at Cool Beans
    5. Owner told Mr. Vox she was unaware of his group in general
    6. The basis for her decsion, she says, was a “direct result” of the message on the brochure, and she goes on to say: “The Universists boast on their literature a reputation of being

  35. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 6:34 pm

    Well, that answers a couple of my questions. Firstly, I guess you would allow a cripple to starve, or an elderly person. Secondly, you think that there’s a weak case for preventing discrimination in a privately-owned business, so a sign in the window that says “No Jews Allowed” is ok, since in a completely free-market economy (which has never existed) other businesses would benefit from the short-sightedness of the business owner who discriminates. That would be great, if a completely free-market economy (which has never existed) didn’t have the problem of eventual monopolies. Eventually, one coffee store chain would dominate, and if the owner hates Christians, Fags, Christian Fags, or Atheists, those groups are just shit out of luck for coffee. They could always move to another, more tolerant country. They DO have that right. Or they could work hard (as long as someone will have the charity to give them a job), buy a computer (as long as the computer seller doesn’t discriminate) and make their coffee purchases on-line. Or they should just stop whining about it and take some personal responsibility for the fact that they are being discriminated against.

  36. hermesten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 6:46 pm

    “They saw the folly in giving to much power to government–the obvious abuse of power this might engender”

    Except it’s now 2005, and too late for this sentiment. We’re way past the era of limited government. We have to deal with the system we have, not the one we’d like to have. When you say the government shouldn’t do something like make anti-discrimination laws, you’re not reducing government power or limiting government, you’re just empowering the people who benefit by being able to discriminate. Anti-discrimination laws are a reaction against discrimination. Either the market did nothing to fix the problem, or it took too long. We have a civil society to the extent that civilized people made laws that uncivilized people had to obey.

  37. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 7:15 pm

    No one is saying anything about anti-discrimination laws in general. Pay attention to what is actually being written. We’re talking about a coffee shop. Do you seriously believe you must be allowed to enter a coffee shop?

    And you’re right–a free market economy doesn’t exist. But isn’t that the problem? And, why don’t you enlighten me this time. Where exactly did I state I would allow a cripple to starve or an elderly person? And why all of a sudden do you take that leap from–I don’t believe you should dictate to a business owner what you can or cannot do in their shop to you suck because you don’t like cripples or elderly people. Are you taking your debating style from the pulpit–where things just appear as if by magic?

    And, by the way, if I went to a shop that didn’t like Christian Fags or Atheists, and everyone in that shop was a Christian Fag or Atheist hater, I really wouldn’t want to be in that shop in the first place. And yes, you would be shit out of luck for coffee. Who cares?

  38. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 7:29 pm

    Daniel, you have made it clear that people should fend for themselves. That would include those who can’t, no? Ergo, a crippled person should just take some “personal responsibility” for himself. If he can’t, he dies. That’s no leap.
    I don’t think you suck. I think you are a libertarian, and that’s ok. I have libertarian leanings also, and I also hate the government. It’s necessary, however, to have laws. That means government, unfortunately.
    Also, you keep saying “who cares?” regarding whether or not I can buy my coffee from this store. What if they were the only car dealership in my area, or grocery store? What if my pharmacist wouldn’t serve me? What if the local Doctor didn’t agree with my religious beliefs, so he wouldn’t treat me?
    Again, I want to be clear. I don’t think you suck. I just don’t agree with total libertarianism.

  39. Daniel
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 7:49 pm

    I don’t agree with total libertarianism either. Nor am I advocating we have no laws. If there’s only one car dealership in town and they happen not to like people like you–go to the next town. Guess what–there is such a thing as competition. Any smart businessperson would seize an opportunity to make a buck if there’s a buck to be made. I’ve worked in retail. They don’t train they’re employees to smile and be nice and to not be offensive because the government tells them to. They do it because it is good business. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to deal with a business that sucks, you’re not alone, and that business would not be patronized for long, and they would lose money and they would be out of business.

    Look at how effective conservative Christians are. Why? They haven’t always had a president who agrees with them. But they’ve always been able to organize sympathizers, solicit money, protest like crazy, and make business owners sweat because they believe they’ll lose a lot of revenue. Not everyone in this country is a right-wing Christian. You can use the exact same tactics they use and I do believe it would be just as effective.

  40. Viole
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

    The difference between being discriminated against, and being discriminated against in a coffee shop is a matter of location. Entirely unimportant. You cannot say a private industry has a right to discriminate on the basis of ideas, race, religion, etc., without effecting anti-discrimination laws in general. Those laws apply to all private enterprise, for purposes of employment and customer service, not merely coffee shops named ‘Cool Beans’.

    Of course, the basis for this is a series of constitution amendments that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion(or lack thereof) or gender.

  41. Vernichten
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 8:00 pm

    Right, a cripple should just amble on to the next town if his pharmacist won’t give him his needed medication.
    The thing about how Christians band together to make change is no good if I only have a small group. It’s called the tyranny of the masses, and it goes against the spirit of our country, which prefers individual rights over groups’ rights.

  42. ocmpoma
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 8:35 pm

    The problem is one of principle, not details.
    If you assert that any given business owner has the right to refuse service to any given person for any given reason, including that owner’s prejudices, you are also asserting that a world in which every member of a given group – be it an ethnic group, religious group, whatever – cannot own anything at all is perfectly okay with you. That is where the principle of private discrimination leads.

    Another aspect of this problem is two conflicting liberties – the liberty to purchase things, and the liberty to sell them. You seem to think that the liberty to sell (and to sell only to whomever you choose) is more important than the liberty to purchase. However, that point of view leads to the situation described above.

    Also, discrimination, as you know, is not a rational trait, and people overall are not rational. Moreover, people who discriminate against a certain group tend to come in groups themselves, which means that if one cofee house in town doesn’t take members of group G, odds are none of the other ones do, either – especially not the better ones, since such discrimination also goes hand in hand with economic discrimination.

    Finally, you assert that those discriminated against should get off of their whiny asses and fix the problem themselves. I assert that they already have done so. How did they solve their problem? They got the government to pass laws forbidding such behavior.

  43. boywonder
    August 4th, 2005 @ 2:19 am

    I was at an outdoor concert last weekend. I headed to a beer tent to get a beer and get out of the sun. The banner on the beer tent said something like “Camel Oasis”. It was sponsered by Camel cigerettes. I was carded out in front of it. I assumed they just wanted to see my age, but she asked me if I smoked. I said “no” (I just quit in April). She said that particular beer tent was only allowed for smokers. I felt double-whammied. I am used to be discriminated against for smoking anywhere, and then I finally quit and I’m told I can’t go in for a beer because I don’t smoke. I told her I didn’t mind the smoke, but she said it didn’t matter. The tent was something offered just for smokers because they never have their own place. I told her to piss off, and I went to another stand. Besides, I smoked Marlboros. It was just the idea of it all that upset me. Well that, and losing my beer buzz. I would have told the Cool Beans Bitch the same thing. I would have made her business suffer in many legal, yet annoying, ways for not allowing me to patronize it.

  44. Michael Trefry
    August 4th, 2005 @ 6:07 am

    Have any of you looked at the web-site for the Universists? The whole idea is a little strange to me. They’re trying to make a religion out of faithlessness. It’s always been my position that the “religion” part of religion was the worst piece of it.
    I just don’t see how slapping a label of “religion” onto faithlessness is going to help anything, to me it just makes them look like yet another wacko group, especially when they spout crap like this:
    “It’s a metaphysical philosophy, yet it holds out the possibility that there may be nothing metaphysical.”

  45. Jason Malloy
    August 4th, 2005 @ 6:39 am

    Universists? Ford Vox? Dude, these sound like D&Ders or something, I wouldn’t want them in my restaurant either. I have little love for “atheist” groups that protest religion by mimicking it superfluously in all its ceremonial forms (at least he doesn’t call himself “reverend” Ford Vox like the Satanists). I also have little sympathy that they can’t hold their Trekkie meetings at this woman’s pedestrian little Jesus bistro – in fact, IMO, the 1964 CRA should be revised to only apply to government. The law was used to boost Jim Crow blacks, and that was fine for the special circumstance, but as a permanent legal structure I don’t think its such a hot idea.

    Seriously, can it be doubted that virtually every acknowledgably hip coffee shop in America would love to have atheists and intellectuals? The only reason I can think that this clubhouse gang would actually *want* to go to somewhere as trite and twee as Cool Beans (come on) has to be because they wanted to start trouble.

  46. Vernichten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 7:24 am

    This isn’t really about coffee, and it isn’t really about Atheists.

  47. hermesten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 9:55 am

    Daniel, I don’t know where you live, but my guess is not in the Bible Belt. The freedom and reciprocity you cite to support your position doesn’t exist in this country. Where I live, you simply would not be allowed to open a business that appeals to atheists, even if a customer base existed to support it. In the first place, the city government, being full of Christians, would probably not issue you the necessary licenses and permits. And if you did manage to open, the Christians would not tolerate your business. At a minimum you’d get phone threats and your business would be vandalized. You might even come to open up one morning and find it burned to the ground –though these people are basically cowards, and would probably not do anything they thought would land them in jail. And this is with the anti-discrimination laws that exist now; I can just imagine what this country would be like without them.

    For an individual business, like a coffee house, I agree with you and others here who say they’d go somewhere else. I wouldn’t want these motherfuckers to have my money anyway. But going to a coffe house is no big deal, something I rarely do, and I’m wealthy, and I have lots of choices. Not everyone can do what I can. There are people in this country, and Christians are the biggest group of them, that want to establish the principle that people can be denied services on the basis of what they believe. They aren’t going to stop with coffee houses. If they get their way, you will find it difficult to even get medical treatment if you’re not a believer.

    This may seem far fetched to you if you’re living in someplace like Seattle, but I can assure you that where I live, it is virtually impossible to pass a day without being tested on your religions beliefs. Strangers come up to you in the mall to share the “good word” and invite you to their church. The dentist talks about his heathen Mulsim neighbors while you’re in the chair. It’s nearly impossible to carry on a conversation without hearing mention of God, or Jesus. On the other hand, I don’t think atheists are calling in threats to Christian restaurants or telling strangers in Wal-Mart that there is no God.

  48. Dave
    August 4th, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

    I think Jason nailed it.

  49. Vernichten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 2:27 pm

    Good argument Dave, I guess I’ll have to rethink everything now.

    Jason said:
    “The law was used to boost Jim Crow blacks, and that was fine for the special circumstance, but as a permanent legal structure I don’t think its such a hot idea”
    What was the “special circumstance”?

  50. simbol
    August 4th, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

    in my coffeeshop I put a sign: Nazis, mobsters, and drugs dealers are not allowed. No problem. Nobody sued me for discrimination against this honourable groups. Fanatic Christians (FC)were allowed in the up stair section as a way for them to be nearer heaven. Atheist were given a discount of 10% based on my rights as owner. This was protested by FC as discrimination and they threatened to sue. Half of the Atheist were lawyers and volunteered for a free defense. FC backed down. Nazis sued after awhile, and as half of Jewish patrons were lawyers they volunteered for a free defense, I don’t know how, but we won. Jew lawyer used movies of Treblinka, mauthausen, Dachau etc and it seems to be this convinced the judge these Nazis were scum that could contaminate decent FC. Latins put some problems with bongos, congas and tumbadoras but I could convince them to reduce noise. The result was a very funny environment with medium soft latin music. FC relationship was smoothly wiht latins because they are christian but no fanatics, and FC are fanatic but also christians. Blacks were not problem because they also are or FC, or Latins, or Jew (an abisinian) or atheist. Latin atheist preferred mingle with their conuntrymen because atheists only speak about the existence of god, while Latins speak of money, latin politics, music and women, especially the latter and never about god unless there is a good joke about it. But in general Latins mingle well with atheists because these latter sometimes make very good jokes about Jews, nuns, priest and Christ. Jews mingled very good with atheists perhaps because both groups like endless discussions about the existence of god and have in common the suspicion that Christ was a fake. Nor Latins neither FC liked homos even if they were Latin or FC, so the homos grouped with Jews and atheist, both groups are more tolerant in this matter. There is a challenge between atheists and Jews (10.000 $) about converting a FC to atheism and there is a deadline, I am afraid atheists will lost (Jews knew better about conversion). There is nor a Muslim problem since alcohol is not allowed to them.After some segregation, my coffeshop is multiracial, multireligious, multilingual, multipartisan, multicultural, peaceful and international because some guy convinced me to create a franchise. And most important: is very profitable. Its customer adore Bar Le Neant (I got a license for selling alcohol and changed the name. Smoking is allowed, but not in FC area). FC were suspicious about the Change of name, but it was very easy to explain it: after you got totally drunken you are nothing. The discount to atheists has been eliminated not by reason of principle (I have the right to put my prices) but for reason of price con$istence. The bar is located in Montparnasse.

  51. DamnRight
    August 4th, 2005 @ 4:50 pm

    I hate it when late at night, all sorts of businesses discriminate against me because I’m a procrastinator… can you believe it, they actually lock me out & claim their closed…

  52. simbol
    August 4th, 2005 @ 4:58 pm

    come to Le Neant, we are open 24/7 and breakfast is free if you are not sleeping under the table

  53. hermesten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 5:16 pm

    “Nor Latins neither FC liked homos even if they were Latin or FC…”

    There is that reputation. That’s one interesting aspect of Pedro Almodovar’s movies: he makes Spain, at least, look pretty tolerant of homosexuality, transvestism, and fetishism. How is Almodovar received in Latin America? Overt homosexuality –and not merely the “safe” stereotypical “gay friend” type we see in the American media– is a prominient feature in other “Latin” movies too, such as “Our Lady of the Assassins,” which takes place in Columbia. Then look at Mexican films, like Y tu mama, tambien –with it’s implied and overt bisexuality.

    I can hardly think “Spain” without thinking “Franco,” and he hardly conjures up an image of liberal toleration. Mexico, and the countries of Latin America (with perhaps the exception of Brazil) all have “conservative” images –I remember in my younger days the police in Mexico holding American “hippies” down and cutting their hair. So how is it that all these progressive films are coming out of Latin America, while the “land of the free” produces almost nothing but safe, cookie cutter crap? Is it because these Latin filmmakers are making films for the educated upper classes instead of the mass market?

    “But in general Latins mingle well with atheists because these latter sometimes make very good jokes about Jews, nuns, priest and Christ.”

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d like to hear some of these jokes. Here’s a couple:

    Jesus was at a disco and having trouble dancing, so he says,
    “Help! I’ve risen and I can’t get down!”

    What did God say to Jesus?
    “I don’t care if you are my son, drop that cross one more time,
    and you’re out of the parade.”

    1 – He went into his father’s business
    2 – He lived at home until the age of 33
    3 – He was sure his mother was a virgin, and his mother sure he was God

    Christ is on the cross, and Peter is down the hill comforting Mary
    Magdalene when he hears in a faint voice, “Peter…Peter…”
    Peter said to Mary, “I must go and help my Savior.” And he went up
    the hill, only to be beaten and kicked back down by the Roman
    centurions guarding the cross. But soon he hears, “Peter…Peter”
    in even fainter tones, and he cannot ignore the call. Peter limps
    up the hill leans a ladder against the cross, and is halfway up when
    the Centurions knock over the ladder, beat him brutally, and toss
    him back down the hill.
    Again he hears, “Peter…Peter…” ever fainter, and he cannot sit
    idle. He staggers up the hill, drags himself up the ladder, and
    finally gets even with Christ’s face.
    Just as the centurions are reaching for the ladder, Christ says,
    “Peter…Peter…I can see your house from here.”

  54. hermesten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 5:33 pm

    Simbol, btw, I’d expect to see a lot of mobsters in a place with a sign that said mobsters aren’t allowed.

    There used to be signs in Norfolk, Va, that said: “Sailors and dogs, keep off the grass.” Apparently Nazis, mobsters, and drug dealers were allowed –as long as they weren’t sailors, so members of the Bush aministration were ok, too.

  55. Vernichten
    August 4th, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

    Jesus Christ walks into an inn. He gives the innkeeper three nails and says “can you put me up for the night?”

  56. simbol
    August 4th, 2005 @ 7:30 pm

    Good jokes. I have a lot but I’m sure they will lost its funny if translated by me.

    A good rule of thumb for dealing with Latin America is to forget the idea that there is homogeneity. Chile and Paraguay, as an example, are very different even in language. Chile speak spanish ad Paraguay speaks simultaneously spanish an Guarani.

    That’s why generalization are sometimes misguiding. I make one about homosexuality, but I think I’m not very wrong.

    Almodovar, at least in my country is only known by the inteligentzia, I don’t Think he is popular there.

    Brasil is much more than Rio and the saturnalia of copacabana in carnival. Don’t forget the importance of an oriented sexual advertising for tourism coupled with its corresponding sexual industry. The bordellos of Rio have not competition (I know them) save maybe Thailand. But this doesn’t make an open society. Brasil has, as an example, a very high rate of iliteracy and poverty.Tha’s why Lula, a populist, won the elections with the slogan : elimination of hunger. Read again: elimination of hunger!!

    Is my opinion that for the time being, Mexico have the fame of “macho country” but Brazil is really the macho country. Perhaps 15 or 20 years ago Brasil was between the few countries in LA where the husband killed the wife if he found her in bed with her lover and was not guilty of murder. I suppose this has changed but I’m not sure. At that moment in my country this was murder but with an attenuating fact that reduced the punishment.This has been eliminated more than 20 years ago. Now is plain murder.

    I agree that Spain is a rare case and all what I have is the same that is usually told, the reaction against the 40 years of sexual repression carried on by the team Franco-Catholic churh.

    And about the latin attitude on homosexuality, I canot speak properly even for my country. Simply there is not statistics on which base a informed opinion. From what I know, homosexuals are not persecuted of harassed. In the work place, ceteris paribus heterosexuals will get the job when competing with homosexuals. Forget elected public office if you are openly homo. But you can be Minister, ambassador or something like that without problems except the inevitable oblique allusion on your sexuality. Fortunately homosexuality is no longer a sin nor an aberrant conduct, now is something like a pitiable happening in the life of a person. No many years ago it was a shame for the family. But things are changing rapidly, the younger generation are considerably more open. My 25 year son have not any of the old prejudices about homosexuality. He is straight and married but one of his best friends is homo. I suppose that more or less, this is what is happening in most latin countries due mainly not to homogeneity but cable TV.

    One last point. I was amazed about you opinion on deregulation because I had a very different experience. I worked for many years in a electricity company and worked very hard for passing in congress a law for deregulating the electric industry. Mine was a stated owned company (the biggest of the country) exploited trough a lot of tricks by private companies. Private companies used political leverage for translating to consumers bloated cost and errors in planing, specially those leading to overinvesting. We didn’t write a tailor-made law for the private interest but for public interests. As you well know, deregulation is not zero regulation, but a change in mechanisms of control. Instead of administrative controls you use market oriented mechanisms an stimuli. No wonder, private companies were strongly against this law. The blunder in California’s deregulation sent waves trough the world and slowed our pace, even when deregulation in England was more or less succesful. Agaisnt all this, we got to pass this law in what you call hear the house, but not in the senate because at the moment there were elections. The new leftist government, the actual one, rejected the law because it was not “enough” leftist. Different experiences, uh?

  57. simbol
    August 5th, 2005 @ 2:45 am

    Herm, I forgot the point of movies. Around the 40’s til the 70’s there was a Latin american movie industry, mainly from Argentina and Mexico. The american steamroller knocked them out and the same happened to Europe (I’m not criticizing, only for the record). Bu

  58. hermesten
    August 5th, 2005 @ 10:39 am

    I’m not speaking to all deregulation; for example, I think deregulation of the airline industry produced some actual competition and lower prices for consumers. But in the US, “deregulation” of the electric industry, at least that with which I am familar, is a sham. The targeted beneficiaries are large industrial users and generators (this may be different in different parts of the country). Not only are the costs of “over investment” you allude to still passed on to consumers, the system is designed so that there in an incentive to over invest. This helps keep the transmission providers quiet about the rest of the rigged game.

    To show the kind of rigging I’m talking about, I’ll give you an example of how power is bid. Bids are put into a “stack.” The lowest bid comes out first. A 300 MW generator might bid power in increments: say, $50 per MW/hr for the first 100 MWs; $75 per MW/hr for the 2nd 100 MWs; $100 for the next 99MWs, and $1000 for the last 1 MW. If the system requires the last 1 MW, the generator doesn’t get paid 50×100+75×100+100×99+1000, he gets paid $1,000 x 300. Essentially then, the generator has transferred all his risk to the consumer. He stands to lose less than 1/300th of his potential revenue if the last MW isn’t used, but stands to gain anywhere from 5 to 20 times if it is.

    They’ve got all kinds of other gimmicks going too. Every single rule overtly benefits either generators or large industrials and makes residential comsumers pay more. For exmaple, only large customers can have demand meters. Residential consumers have their load “profiled.” This means that even if a residential customer shifts his demand to a period when the cost of generation is low –say 2 AM– he saves no money on his bill because by “profiling” his highest demand is “assumed” to take place during the highest cost hour of generation. How’s that for “free market” and “competition?” They also use a variety of techniques to increase market volatility –such as reducing reserve margins. My own bill is more than 50% higher now than before deregulation, with costs rising, and no end in sight.

    There are occassionally good independent movies still made in the US, “Primer” for example, but Hollywood is tightening its grip there too. Companies like Miramax buy the rights to independent productions so they can keep them on the shelf; and the financing for most of them is being subject to the same lowest common denominator pressures as the big budget stuff. DVD’s are something of a counterbalance, since one can often buy foreign movies, that haven’t been released here, from overseas; and some of the best movies are being made in Iran, Korea, China, and Latin America.

    If you don’t live in a big city in this country, your only venue for seeing good movies is video. What’s on at the local multiplex is mostly garbage. Many good movies you can’t even rent, because once again, the rental stores are stocked to accommodate the hoi polloi. Many are now available on DVD if you buy them, but some good movies, ironically even some American movies, I have only been able to see because I can afford to buy them on DVD from overseas. I like Bunuel, but I haven’t seen much of anything from his Mexico period.

  59. Viole
    August 5th, 2005 @ 11:47 am


    You ever looked at mail rental outfits like NetFlicks? I know people who like very odd films, many of them impossible to find here in the US, that NetFlicks carries. I’m not particularly fond of movies as a passtime, so I haven’t tried them out, but their selection might be worth a look.

  60. hermesten
    August 5th, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    Viole, Netflix doesn’t work for me because my mood has to match the movie, I watch a lot of movies, and I’m too impatient to tolerate their queueing policy. For instance, they fiddle with queue priorities to regulate how many movies you get: the more movies you order the lower they make your priorities.

    Another factor is that I have a large movie library, and just like good books, I like to keep good movies in my possession so I can see them whenever the mood strikes. The expense isn’t really an issue because I resell anything I don’t want to keep, and the net cost to me per movie viewed is actually close to, or less, than the rental cost, in monetary terms, and way way less in terms of convienence.

    Also, I believe services like Netflix, though they have many non mainstream movies, only carry Region 1 releases in the US, and some movies just aren’t available in Region 1, or are available only in altered or censored versions –even “American” movies by American directors like Kubrick, whose “Eyes Wide Shut” is only available uncensored outside the US (non region 1 dvds). Funny, how in the “land of the free” with our “Constitutionally” protected “liberties” we have to avoid censorship by importing movies from other countries.

  61. BigHead
    August 7th, 2005 @ 12:51 am

    I’ve read most of the comments in this thread…sorry bout coming in in the end of the conversation…and I’ve noticed that most are pretty upset that a private business owner doesn’t want a wacko group who, in his opinion, is sponsoring “radical uprising” against religious folks.

    “Other verbage suggests that the group is interested in

  62. Fred Evil
    August 7th, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

    Hmmm….have they ACTUALLY started any fights, or even shouting matches? Or is this just a “concern” about their POTENTIAL for raised voices? If the owner is “concerned” about the possibility of problems, she better ban priests too, otherwise one just might end up violating some child waiting in line for a double mocha half-caff espresso no? I mean, the POSSIBILITY is there……they have a reputation…it’s been said…….common knowledge…..

  63. hermesten
    August 8th, 2005 @ 10:00 am

    BigHead, come on, read the owner’s statement. It’s obvious that she’s lying and her justifications were all concocted with the help of her lawyer, after the fact, to cover her ass in a discrimination suit. The “size of the group” is a smokescreen to hide the fact that she’s a Christian and doesn’t want atheists meeting there. The law does give her the right to prohibit groups from meeting there, it just doesn’t give her the right to allow Christian groups to meet and prohibit atheist groups, of the same size, because of what they believe.

    The “wacko” group sponsoring a “radical uprising” against Christians is pure bullshit. “Sponsoring” an uprising against Christians would bring immediate charges under the Patriot Act. Even before the Patriot Act, people meeting to plan a “radical uprising” could be arrested and charged with conspiracy. Post 9/11, with the government looking for people to bust under the rubric of terrorism, we’re supposed to believe that there is a group, openly planning or “sponsoring” an attack against Christians; that they have published information about their intentions and distribute it in coffee shops; that they openly recruit new members via a website; and that what, all the local police, state police, Bush Justice Department, and FBI are atheistis protecting their atheist conspirator friends? Give me a fuckin’ break.

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