In Defense of the Boycotters
I recognized the older gentleman in jeans as one of our “semi-regulars” (definition: I have a decent idea of what he’ll order, but unlike our actual regulars, I don’t really know for sure) when he walked into the store this morning. “This will be my last dollars spent at Chick-fil-A”, he said, and then proceeded to tell me a story I didn’t quite understand about his children, but that somehow tied in his mind to his consternation over CFA COO Dan Cathy’s recent words about gay marriage. I politely took his order (it was chicken and cheese on a bagel, no egg, as I recall) and watched as he made his way to his table to eat his last Chick-fil-A breakfast. I didn’t dare get into the issue with him, but when he asked me to relay his comments to corporate, I told him I would (which I would have, had I not left work earlier than normal, still reeling from yesterday’s 30-mile, seemingly-uphill-both-ways bike spin). And as he left the counter, I thought, “that’s a perfectly American thing that he’s doing”.
The saying of which may disappoint some of my friends, I’m sure.
But the fact of the matter is that I do the same thing, and I think that it’s perfectly right, and American, to do so. Here’s the thing: if a company actively supports a cause with which I vehemently disagree, or that employs child labor, say, then I am well within my prerogative not to patronize that company. Through the years, there have been a number of companies toward which I have personally chosen this option, and there are some currently that are on my blacklist; a sampling:
Chrysler and GM – Don’t look for me ever to purchase a new Chrysler or GM product. Why? I consider the auto bailouts to be un-American, and any good they did because they “worked” is overshadowed–at least in my mind–by the horrendous precedent that they set.
Domestic chocolate – Hershey’s and Nestle, to name a couple, have a pretty poor record with regard to the use of child labor in the production of their chocolate. Thankfully, there is international pressure on the chocolate companies, and there seems to be movement on their parts, albeit much more slowly than it ought to be. Do I take this “boycott” to the nth degree? No…I’ll buy a chocolate milkshake, for instance, and not inquire about the source of the chocolate (Chick-fil-A uses Hershey’s, though I must say that I’ve thought more than once about asking corporate to pressure Hershey’s to do the right thing). But I don’t purchase candy bars as a general rule (fair-trade excepted), and haven’t for a couple of years now. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the prices are now ridiculous.
Apple Computers – Apple was a leading proponent of gay marriage in California, and so I don’t purchase any of the “i” products. I don’t even use QuickTime player on my computer. Now, I want to say that I’ve heard that Microsoft has taken a similar position; I guess I’ll eventually have to cross that bridge as well at some point.
And there are others.
Now, do I generally launch a campaign? No. Do I do exhaustive searches on all the products I purchase to make sure they aren’t “tainted”? Of course not. Am I completely consistent in every way with this? Probably not. But none of those things is the point I’m trying to make; rather, I’m saying that it is perfectly right and patriotic to put one’s dollars where one’s beliefs are, whether in the case of the blue jean-clad old gentleman, it means eating inferior chicken, or in my case, to vow only to purchase Fords, Toyotas, and/or Hondas (should I ever make enough money to buy a new car!).
As I see it, that’s the American way.