There’s no such thing as bad publicity, but there’s definitely unwanted publicity, and I’m pretty sure the folks at Black Rifle Coffee Company would be happy to spend this week talking about stuffing Christmas stockings with packages of freshly ground beans from a veteran-owned company instead of fielding questions about their position on Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old charged with murder and assault in the shootings of three demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin in late August.
Rittenhouse, who maintains he was acting in self-defense, was released on $2-million bond on Friday, and his attorney L. Lin Wood celebrated with a photo on Twitter featuring Rittenhouse in Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt.
The coffee company would likely have faced at least a few media inquiries based on Rittenhouse’s shirt, but it became an even bigger story when Blaze Media reporter Elijah Schaffer retweeted the photo and used it as a promotion for the company.
Schaffer posted a discount code for the coffee under the post with the photo. And online, commenters questioned whether the coffee company had a sponsorship deal with Rittenhouse and accused it of supporting murder and hate.
But Black Rifle Coffee, a sponsor of Schaffer’s Slightly Offens*ve podcast, said in a statement Saturday that it is not sponsoring or supporting Rittenhouse.
A spokesperson for the coffee company told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday afternoon that the company was terminating its sponsorship of Slightly Offens*ve, but late Saturday, she said she had misunderstood.
“We are not fluctuating our ad spend,” she said in a text message. “We did have a conversation with Schaffer, and he understands that the post was a mistake.”
Conceivably, the issue could have stopped there. BRCC doesn’t want to use an ongoing legal case as a promotional tool, and Schaffer’s use of a discount code was not in line with the company’s values. Full stop, end of story.
Except, of course, that’s not where the story ends. BRCC faced continuing calls on social media from the Left to explain themselves or condemn Rittenhouse, which ultimately led to the company’s CEO issuing a statement trying to extricate the brand from this particular fight in the culture war.
As a veteran-owned and operated coffee company, Black Rifle Coffee Company exists to serve premium coffee while supporting the veteran Community. At the core of Black Rifle Coffee’s values is to support and bring awareness to the millions of veterans who have proudly served our nation and we will not waver from that mission.
The Black Rifle brand is a symbol of service, of strength, and of goodness that has carried over from our military origins. It’s why we support active duty service members and veterans, prioritize veteran hiring, and advocate for individual liberty and personal responsibility.
We do not support legal advocacy efforts. We do not sponsor nor do we have a relationship with the 17-year-old facing charges in Kenosha, WI.
We believe in the integrity of the legal justice system, and support law enforcement officials.
We’re grateful for the continued support of the Black Rifle Coffee community and eager to continue serving those who serve.
As you might have guessed, this has opened up the company to even more criticism, this time from those who feel like the coffee company should issue some sort of statement of support for Rittenhouse alongside those on the Left who feel like BRCC hasn’t done enough to condemn the teenager.
I’ve been very open about the fact that I believe Kyle Rittenhouse has a very strong claim to self-defense, and that the evidence that we’ve seen to date shows that Rittenhouse was not the initial aggressor but was in fact being chased by an angry mob and only fired when he was in fear for his life.
I also don’t really care if Black Rifle Coffee Company agrees, disagrees, or stays silent on the issue. I also don’t expect Folgers or Maxwell House to weigh in on the prospective validity of Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument. They’re a coffee company, not a law firm.
How many times have you rolled your eyes when a company decides to get woke and inserts itself into the culture war battle of the day? Can you really be annoyed when a company decides instead to stay out of a particular fight?
On the other hand, when Hafer has boasted in the past that BRCC encourages “strength and honor and those things that are almost dying within our society,” are some customers right to expect that the company might weigh in on the Rittenhouse case, given that the teen says he went to Kenosha to protect businesses and serve as a volunteer medic before he was beset by the mob? Is that not the type of honorable activity that Hafer believes is dying within our society?
Again, I don’t personally care whether or not BRCC takes a public stand in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, but I kind of understand the perspective of those who do. In large part Black Rifle Coffee Company exists because of the culture wars, and the company’s statements may sound to some like BRCC is going AWOL, at least when it comes to the case of Kyle Rittenhouse. If the company just wants to sell good coffee, okay. But if BRCC is actively courting customers by appealing to a shared lack of political correctness, then shying away from controversies like the Rittenhouse case is decidedly off-brand.