Church of Satan Sigil of Baphomet

Gingerbread Click-Bait Latte:
Regarding the Starbucks Holiday
Cup Controversy

For the few people on the Internet who still haven’t heard the story
about Starbucks and the alleged controversy over their 2015 holiday cup design,
Snopes has a great summary which you can read here. Don’t
worry, this article isn’t a rant about Starbucks coffee itself or their
supposed business practices.  If it’s
Starbucks bashing you want, I’m sure you can find some website that will cater

Now I enjoy religion bashing as much as the next Satanist. And I suppose that Satanically, there’s
something good to be said about the public’s knee-jerk reaction being “Look how
stupid these Christians are!” But I have
to take a step back and wonder if these reactions are just soapbox rants
against nobody. Do these cup-outraged
Christians really exist, at least beyond a handful of YouTube clips and blog

As far as I can tell, this mess all started when one right-wing blog
claimed that Starbucks was trying to further a “War against Christmas” this
year by having their 2015 winter cup design be simple two-toned red cup,
foregoing the usual designs they had in previous years, such as ones
incorporating snowflakes or reindeer.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this complaint was mostly just a
desperate act to create controversy where none existed, for the sole sake of
generating web traffic. Regardless, it
worked. There were maybe a few more
similar sites who decided to join in on the silly claim, but that’s not what
drove the traffic. What really made it a
hot story were all the other blogs and click-bait sites reporting it as
a “Hey, look at these idiots!” story.

Most news stories these days are sadly just what’s known as “click-bait”:
headlines that use sensationalism or false intrigue to lure you into clicking
the link, or even sharing it without reading beyond the headline. In a way, they’re not all that different from
advertisements. Some of the most successful click-bait just makes the reader
feel superior or powerful. For example, science articles that misreport
scientific research in such an oversimplified way that the reader goes, “Duh, I
could have told you THAT!”, or stories about criminals who get foiled by the
own stupidity.

Other headlines propagate in the same way that many urban myths do:
because the reader wants them to be true on some level. The most successful stories are those that
confirm people’s paranoia, or target people’s strong, preconceived
beliefs. People will share a news story
without wondering whether or not it’s even true, so long they like the story
(or again, just the headline), especially if it underscores a belief of theirs.
In this case, consider people who are predisposed to either believe Christians
are all painfully dumb, or, even more popularly, this terrible world is filled
with too many people these days who are too easily offended. Well, I can’t say that I can blame people for
having either of those perceptions. But
it’s important to note how people’s emotional investments can drive a story,
and to question things before you share them.

In these sorts of situations, Anton LaVey encouraged asking, Cui Bono?
– who gains? When it comes to the 2015
Starbucks holiday cup controversy, I would say that everybody gained. Conservative Christian blogs got to create
more traffic to their sites. Left-wing
blogs and general click-bait news sites were able to create reactionary
headlines which gave themselves a lot of Internet traffic. People who like to
humorously poke fun at religion got to do so.
Late show hosts and cartoonists had a new hot topic for material. People who ironically love to complain about
the complainers had new fodder for their “Geez, you can’t do anything without
offending somebody!” rant we’ve all heard too many times. And even the Christians who weren’t offended
by the cups in the first place either found a new reason to react against the
jeers and join in against the supposed War on Christmas, or stood up on a
different soapbox to tell world how they’re one of the “good” Christians who
wasn’t offended in the first place and now have an excuse to tell all of us
what Christmas is “really” supposed to be about. Last but not least, this Satanist gained an
article from the whole mess.

So in the end, I guess it really is all about the
season of giving!

—Magister Bill M.