Recently Jonathon Merrit from the Atlantic said he is boycotting boycott. He insists that we shouldn’t base our purchasing decisions on the belief system of a company or organization.
He was referring to the recent phenomenon of people publicly decrying Chick-fil-A and stating that they will no longer support the business because of its President’s statement that the chain supports the “biblical definition of the family unit”. He said that not purchasing a chicken sandwich will have little effect on the company, so why do it anyway?
His opinion is as follows:
Americans who patronize [Chick-fil-A’s] 1,600 locations were left wondering what to do.
Should they swear off the legendary chicken sandwiches to support gay rights? Or could they eat one of the filets anyway, knowing their dollars would be but a drop in the bucket for a chain that has more than $4 billion in annual sales and donated a pittance to groups they may disagree with?
I’d argue the latter – and this has nothing to do with my views on gay marriage. It’s because Chick-fil-A is a laudable organization on balance, and because I refuse to contribute to the ineffective boycott culture that’s springing up across America.
Firstly, I just want to say I am thoroughly unimpressed by Merrit’s fatalistic: “if it doesn’t make a difference anyway” attitude. It’s the same argument that keeps people from voting, from participating in protests and from taking part in conversations. Those things being all of our basic rights that we have used effectively to keep our government in check. And, however high-horsey it may sound, it’s not just about the “four dollars.” Yes, folks, it’s about the damn principle.
No, I don’t want my money to go into homophobic organizations just like I don’t want to support, to any degree, organizations that are racist, sexist, or disenfranchise their workers
Besides that precious notion of a principle, I also want to get into the practical aspect of the argument and show why Merrit is just plain wrong. Boycott is not a somewhat passive response to disgust with a business. With the tools of social media and the potential for individuals to comment directly to the businesses they think are perpetuating an intolerable culture, we can all easily make our boycott purposeful.
The teaser is: “Do we really want a country where people won’t do commerce with those who have beliefs different than their own?”
When it comes to refusing to support a business that publicly states its own bigotry, the answer is: um, duh. Excuse me for my lack of eloquence, but idiotic questions have the tendency to rub their IQ-lessness off on me.
While I’m not going to be the main proponent for the free market system, I do value customer choice. And, where we put our dollars says a lot. Also, what we say on our Facebook says a lot, and what we say on Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page says even more. It’s effective and empowering.
As I’ve mentioned before advocates for women’s rights have been using social media as a medium to voice their outrage over lawmakers proposing legislation that infringes on reproductive rights. Facebook has changed our protest culture and extended it to people who otherwise couldn’t have picketed. It’s made boycotting something you could declare openly and regularly. Making Merrit’s comments a bit more than oblivious.
So, yeah, I’m not buying homophobic sandwiches.