The controversy over an incident on Thanksgiving day where a Starbucks barista in Glenpool, Oklahoma was fired for labeling the drinks ordered by a local police officer with the name “Pig” has taken a strange new turn when the daughter of the local police chief went on Twitter and told the world that her father deserved the label.
The office who originally picked up the hot beverages was bringing them to emergency dispatchers to thank them for working on a holiday, and reported the prank — which the barista later said was meant as a joke when they called the officer to apologize — to police chief Johnny O’Mara of the Kiefer, Oklahoma police department where he worked.
Chief O’Mara contacted the Starbucks branch where the verbal slight took place and rejected the manager’s offer to replace the drinks without the offending word printed on the cups as an insufficient apology for the slander.
O’Mara then went on to post about the incident on Facebook in a since-deleted post that expressed his frustration with the lack of respect for the police working on a holiday,
“What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with his family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town,” O’Mara’s post read in part.
While Starbucks reacted to the news by apologizing and firing the barista, Chief O’Mara exhibited forgiveness when he heard about the employee’s termination.
“I just recently learned that the employee was terminated, and this may be a bit surprising, but I would like Starbucks to reconsider,” O’Mara said in an interview with Fox News. “I’m asking for civility.”
Forgiveness was not in the heart of a woman claiming to be O’Mara’s daughter who, after seeing the coverage of the story, posted a series of tweets that accused her father of being totally deserving of the anti-police slur.
update: he has seen it and had someone call my mom to “get that shit off twitter” lmao he is upset
— o'mara (@MissOMara) December 1, 2019
Obviously, Chief O’Mara and his daughter are estranged at this point, but Twitter couldn’t help but weigh in on both the original incident and the daughter’s surprising tweet.
— tomred (@TomRed43) December 1, 2019
— Janus (@NemesisRides) November 29, 2019
yo, ex barista here: to circumnavigate the profanity filters on starbucks POS, you'd need to make PIG your account name your mobile order account and scan it at the register/make a mobile order with that name.
the cop who posted about this is a liar. this is my shocked face https://t.co/MIMbH07M5h
— UpscaleFurryTrash (They/Them) (@DarkSoulsSauron) November 30, 2019
4) In small towns with only one Starbucks serving the area, there’s about a 0% chance those employees don’t know the local cops. Pulling something like this would be monumentally stupid if it wasn’t an inside joke.
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) December 1, 2019
While the Twitterverse debated whether the original story was indeed even true, no one seemed to comment on the most remarkable aspect of the story — that the police actually paid for their drinks.
In many communities, it’s common practice for small business owners who run diners and coffee shops to provide coffee and meals to local police officers completely gratis as a courtesy and a form of thanks for their service to the common good. Some police officers have become so used to the practice that they begin to expect it and treat the freebies as a perk of their job that’s owed to them.
With all the back and forth over whether the labeling of the cops as “pigs” was a harmless prank, an inside joke, or a shameful insult, let’s at least give the officer who paid for the drinks some credit for spending his own money rather than simply expecting to walk away with free beverages.
And remember that any slur applied to a whole category of people while ignoring individual behavior — whether it be police, ethnic minorities, or religions — is inherently prejudiced, reductive and wrong. That doesn’t mean that some law enforcement officials might not deserve to be described with derisive terms, just that it’s wrong to label them as such without evidence of behavior that justifies it.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.