Starbucks must subscribe to the theory that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Why else would it continue to allow baristas to write down customers' names on cups as it has since 2012?

When a Starbucks employee mangles someone's name, what happens? Often the misspelled party posts a photo of his or her cup (bearing "Giles" instead of Charles, for example) on social media. It might be an intended swipe at the ubiquitious coffee chain, but it only ends up circulating the famous Starbucks logo throughout the cyberverse.

For the most part, this practice is harmless. But, occasionally, big problems result. A barista was fired last week after the word "PIG" appeared on a police officer's cup of hot chocolate.

It happened in a small town near Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thanksgiving Day.

Once alerted, the company moved swiftly to fire the offending barista. Since then, the entire episode has been called into question by internet sleuths who point to the printed label as proof that the beverage was ordered through the Starbucks app, which requires users to assign themselves a name.

Regardless, the police department and the coffee company issued a joint statement late Friday saying they were "committed to using this regrettable incident as an opportunity to leverage our shared platforms to promote greater civility."

That's admirable — finding the silver lining and all. But if the goal is promoting civility, it seems the easiest thing Starbucks could do is just assign numbers to orders and eliminate the possibility of bad name spellings or offensive characterizations altogther.

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