The Freedom Not To Participate

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165 Responses

  1. Grifter says:

    I don't think Doug Mataconis' post was rational at all. The idea that the sole decider on a product should be the quality of said product is ridiculous, and his claim that you'll only hurt the poor, poor franchisee is foolish.

  2. Lizard says:

    Well said, sir! It seems very hard for a lot of people to grasp that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech, and that boycotts, social opprobrium, and vigorous rebuttal are themselves an aspect of speech. I derive moral satisfaction from knowing I do not give my money to companies that will spend it supporting political causes I oppose. I support their right to support those causes, and to advocate for them, but they won't be doing it with my money. (The crocodile tears from those whose entire political careers are built on convincing their followers to urge the FCC to shut down 'obscene' television programs or to boycott any business that supports gay rights are, in my opinion, delicious. Mmmm… hypocrite tears…)

  3. robintn says:

    This sounds like what happened when the Dixie Chicks exercised their free speech right to criticise the President, but when their fans responded by no longer buying their music, they yammered on incessantly about how they were being censored.

  4. Tony says:

    Would you still listen to Wagner if he had an active blog where he was spouting hate speech? I think distance is key, sometimes.

  5. Xenocles says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that focused boycotts with a clear and common purpose are the most effective vehicles of change in history. It's like they say: money is the most sincere form of flattery – and the converse of that is likely true too.

  6. SassQueen says:

    I'm torn between wanting to know what OSC has said that is vile – though, knowing his background, I have an idea – and not wanting to know because it'll make me sad not to know how The Lost Gate finishes up.

  7. David says:

    But for some odd reason, folks expect our reactions to speech to be rational and logical, instead of personal and idiosyncratic, like speech itself.

    While we're embracing irrationality, why not "deal with" the fact that some folks who understand the personal and idiosyncratic nature of speech nevertheless expect our reactions to speech to be rational and logical?

    Is that inconsistent on their part? Perhaps, but isn't acceptance of inconsistency the name of your game here? Why rebut this, if rebuttal itself is reduced to poetic self-expression. Just accept that those expecting rational responses happen to contain multitudes.

    Hey, look! We're Nietzsche and Rimbaud! :D

  8. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I would suspect what makes it possible for Ken to listen to Wagner is that the words are not in a language that he automatically comprehends (I hesitate to assume that Ken doesn't speak or read ANY German). I can listen to individual Wagner movements. I cannot watch any large part of the Ring cycle, because I find each and every one of the characters loathsome.

  9. David says:

    @Xenocles

    I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that focused boycotts with a clear and common purpose are the most effective vehicles of change in history.

    If focused boycotts with a clear and common purpose were the most effective vehicles of change in history, someone would've noticed and documented that fact by now.

    In truth, they seem to vary among (a) disastrous backfire-a-rama, (b) impotent poetic whimper that temporarily builds esprit de corps among already-like-minded participants, and (c) unquantifiable perturbance to which twitchy corporate entities respond preemptively in face-saving ways that have no appreciable long-term effect on revenue.

  10. Grifter says:

    @SassQueen:

    You really, really don't want to know the things he's said.

    Let's just say I: No longer own the Ender's game series, and won't buy the Ender's Game comics, despite the fact that I read the first book like 50 times when I was younger and it was a big influence on me.

  11. @CSPS – I think you're wandering into dangerous territory there; equating the artist with the art and debating whether or not one influences the other is a whole 'nother can of worms. "Strauss, as a moosician I take off my hat to you, but as a MAN, I put on TEN hats!" (Incidentally, though, ISTR that Ken is pretty fluent in German. I am, and I can tell you that it isn't the language that'd keep me away from Wagner – it's that some of his music just doesn't do it for me, and that's an entirely separate issue from his personal and political ideologies. Some of it OTOH is great stuff, and in my mind I can divorce that entirely from its author. In fact… while I'm hanging out in this long paren, I would say that the area where I've most often seen an artist's evil personality affect his art is in performance rather than in composition. There are a lot of musicians I can't listen to because their personal nastiness creeps into their music-making; it's a raw and accurate live reflection of who they are, and it can make the performance incredibly creepy. Not a hard and fast rule, obviously, just an observation of a tendency, at least as I experience it. Oh wait, another thought for this overstuffed paren. If I were going to be put out by German lyrics I'd be unable to listen to many of Schubert's lieder. Die Schöne Müllerin, for instance – nothing to do with ideology, it's just that those lyrics are painfully pedestrian. Schubert – miraculously, inexplicably – actually makes them sound better than they are. And… sorry… so much for avoiding the tangent of art-vs-artist. Ooops.)

    Anyway, that's a rant for another time. Don't mind me, I'm just going to sit here and glower at Ken et al for FORCING me to comment irrationally on their blog.

  12. Xenocles says:

    How is (c) not a win for the boycotters?

  13. S. Weasel says:

    Is it wrong that this thread made me hungry for chicken?

  14. C. Ellis says:

    Seems the the reaction to the reaction as it were depends on who's ox gets gored. Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and other evangelicals are up in arms and shocked, shocked I say by the "vitriolic" attacks and criticisms over a "simple statement" that Chik-Fil-A made supporting traditional marriage. Yet the mirror image happened when Oreo came out with its support for gay marriage and the evangelicals were up arms about that. Seems to me the left and right engage in the same behavior, and it's "rational" only when their side does it. While I'm all for allowing criticism, I think each end would do themselves a favor and tone down the histrionics.

  15. En Passant says:

    Ken wrote:

    Or take Jim Hines. Mr. Hines is a fantasy author. He was scheduled to participate in an "Ask Me Anything" thread about his new book at a fantasy subReddit. But then he heard about a chilling and creepy thread at Reddit calling for men to talk about their experience being rapists. So he cancelled. In the comments on his thread, and in the a fantasy subriddit thread about the matter, some Redditors are complaining about this. Some display a rather swollen sense of entitlement to Mr. Hines' participation.

    Perhaps the word you mipsplelled is "engorged". Both their "argument" and their "sense of entitlement" seem to originate from the same general anatomical region.

    They argue that Reddit is a huge community and it is irrational to react to one subgroup of it based on the actions of another subgroup, they argue that some real live womenz think that the discussion might be useful, and they argue that what he is doing is an affront to free expression because he said he wouldn't be doing the Ask Me Anything as long as Reddit hosted threads like that.

    Perhaps those Redditors can persuade the Congress to pass an individual mandate to participate in their discussions, cleverly disguised as a tax of course.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  16. David says:

    @Xenocles

    How is (c) not a win for the boycotters?

    It is a small win. Sometimes, boycotts have an appreciable short-term effect. But that's a far cry from what you asserted: that well-oiled boycotts might be "the most effective vehicles of change in history"!

    It's easy to think of other "vehicles of change in history" that are vastly more effective, and more consistently so. War, for example….

  17. David says:

    @C. Ellis
    Not sure whether you're including Santorum among evangelicals by nesting him between Huckabee and "other", but Santorum is Roman Catholic.

  18. Xenocles says:

    I had meant for "peaceful" or "speech-based" to be implied, but I suppose I failed at that. My bad.

  19. AlphaCentauri says:

    Boycotts are useful when they raise awareness of an issue.

    If you tell people to boycott a movie, book, business, youth group, etc., because of its interpretation of sexuality or religion, for instance, everyone already has a point of view. For all the people who agree with you and boycott, there will be people on the other side who will become customers/patrons specifically because they support the point of view of the target of the boycott.

    The prolonged 1970s farm worker's boycott of table grapes and iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, raised significant awareness of the abuses going on in agribusiness. There is still a lot of abuse, but I think the boycott laid the groundwork for a lot of the current activism in making people aware of where their food comes from and whether the low prices they enjoy are coming at the expense of other human beings and animals.

  20. tsrblke says:

    @Grifter,

    Why shouldn't I decide that Quality of the product (and perhaps the related things like service) should be perhaps the most important (if not sole) informer of my product? It's likely more rational than the arugment that I should introduce downstream aspects into the decision. (At that rate, I'd never be able to own a car, watch a Disney movie, eat pretty much anything.)
    Which I think brings me to my questioning of Ken's post. The honesty is incredible, and I'm glad Ken has the self reflection to admit he's being irrational, but there's the rub isn't there? Isn't the goal of morality to get beyond the irrational to the rational? At the very least you open yourself to criticism of being inconsistant in your beliefs, which I think is a valid criticism. Ultimately though I suppose it's up to you to decide if you can live with this inconsistancy.
    (FWIW, I'm a big fan of moral consistancy, I'm less likely to see any part of a position if someone inconsistant about it. Especially if that person is going to make a big deal that they do "X" because of the position of "person Y" but then simply ignore Z and Person "Q's" similar stance and action. At the very least when I do that, I tend to consider it a moral failing more than anything.)

  21. EH says:

    I think there's something about prioritizing the needs of business here, where a customer's reasons for doing anything but reliably giving a business money are valueless.

  22. Orville says:

    I try to approach my irrationality rationally. There are plenty of things in this world that I do not like one bit. The impulse to act against them is strong (and there are times I do give in to it). Most of the time I am able to take a deep breath and tell myself that my view is not the only one in the universe, and that freedom means other people must be free to act in ways I do not like.

    Is it irrational that I do not give money to people who act in ways I don't like? Possibly – but it is no more irrational than the subset of people who believe in things I think are flat out wrong, but they get my patronage anyway.

    Orson Scott Card is a pretty good example of that. I fell for Enders Game before I learned more about the author, and even knowing what I know now I still love the book. I also read his Women of Genesis series, even though I do not share his faith, because I was interested in how the characters would be portrayed.

    It is likely, in the end, my attempts to be rational is self-serving after the fact justification of a set of irrational impulses. Whatever the underlying reason, I have no desire to be paralyzed into inaction because there are plenty of reasons to not patronize a business.

    To paraphrase one of my favorite stories; I don't try to stay pure and I don't wallow in filth. I try to stay as clean as I can and walk a course that allows me to sleep at night.

  23. Grifter says:

    @tsrblke:

    So, if they made a good meal, you'd eat at K-K-KlanBurger?

    Everyone has points at which the behavior of the owner of a business trumps the value of the business. You, and others, have made arguments "Oh, if I boycotted everyone who I disagreed with, I couldn't do anything!"

    That's a straw man, honestly. The point here is that at a certain point, you can find the position espoused despicable enough to outweigh the purported quality of the food; for everyone that point is different, but I would argue that I believe
    everyone has a point at which they would draw the line.

    I can disagree with many people politically and socially on many issues and still remain friends with them, and/or do business with them. But there are some things that I will not tolerate.

  24. Grifter says:

    @Orville:

    I tried to get past it, but right about when he said his marriage was worthless if gays could get married, and suggested armed revolt against the government if gay marriage was allowed, is when I decided I couldn't look at his books on my shelf any more without my gorge rising.

  25. AlphaCentauri says:

    The quote about evil triumphing if good people do nothing is applicable here. The fact that you can't screen the ethical practices of every business you deal with, the fact that you patronize some businesses that engage in some despicable practices, the fact that you read a bible that glorifies genocide against the people of Philistia (Gaza), doesn't mean that there is no point in allowing ethics to inform how you spend any of your time or money.

    If everyone made at least some decisions based on ethics, the net effect would be more significant than a few people making all of their decisions that way. And yes, at this point you might be talking about a few people making a few decisions that way, but every change has to start somewhere. Arguing that you won't do the right thing because no one else does is the same as saying you don't want to be the first person to do the right thing; you want to be the last.

  26. Yar Kramer says:

    I like to think of this as an inability to understand that It Works Both Ways. It is "okay" for HitlerStalin1337 to say that he wishes that an anvil would descend from the heavens and kill you in your sleep because you said that the Nazis were the villains in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is equally "okay" for you to call him a moron (because you live on the third floor of a sixteen-story apartment and it would have to go through at least thirteen ceilings to get to you).

  27. Chris R. says:

    I think there are times when a company's actions or the actions of it's leaders fall so out of line with your values that you have no choice but to sever all ties with that company. For instance, I no longer buy Kimberly Clark products do to their sourcing pulp from the rainforest for their paper products. I haven't bought Kimberly Clark products since 2006. It's not like there aren't other choices out there for any product category.

  28. Chris R. says:

    Btw, I believe KC changed their sourcing around 2009, but I still hold them responsible for their previous actions.

  29. Demosthenes says:

    "So, if they made a good meal, you'd eat at K-K-KlanBurger?"

    Oh, please. There's an easy distinction to be drawn between people and organizations like the Klan on the one hand, and people and organizations like Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A on the other. The Klan is actually a hate group. They have acted, and continue to act, on their hatred. Chick-fil-A doesn't spend money on mistreating gay people. They don't even refuse to serve gay customers or refuse to hire gay employees. So even if you have a problem with the Boy Scouts, why would you have a problem with Chick-fil-A? What are they actually DOING that's worth a boycott?

    It's not like I have a problem with boycotting someone for the actions they take — I won't pay money for a Roman Polanski film because I have no interest in supporting a child molester. But everyone needs to un-bunch their panties about other people's speech. Am I going to get rid of my copies of "Forget Paris" and "An Officer and a Gentleman" because Debra Winger supported Polanski? Please. I don't care how much of a dip I think she is for doing so…she's entitled to her opinion, and I wouldn't even stop patronizing her new films on that basis, much less rid myself of movies she's done that I love. And I certainly wouldn't dream of saying something like "Debra Winger supports child molestation." That would just be flat-out untrue, according to all the evidence I actually have.

    What I'm trying to get at here is something that everyone who visits a free-speech-lovin' site like this one should be able to get behind: speech is not action. If I started to boycott people and businesses because I not only disagreed with their speech but thought they were wrong or hateful or perhaps immoral, I wonder how many places there would be left for me to do business with. Not many, I'd wager. I certainly wouldn't be reading Popehat, because from time to time Ken really pisses me off with how wrong I think he is. But what else would I expect from the man who coined the phrase "snort my taint"? Really, though. I laugh when I agree with him dishing it out; I think that means I owe him a civilized response when I happen to be a member of the group he's aiming at.

    On the subject of Orson Scott Card: He never encouraged armed revolt against the government. It's nice to know that calumny is still around, though. Makes me laugh.

    I have two bookshelves in my house dedicated to single authors — one to Card, and one to Stephen King. They've both said multiple things that pissed me off in the past. But I wouldn't dream of getting rid of those books. They're too good. I don't patronize either of them much anymore, but it has nothing to do with their political speech and everything to do with the fact that they just ain't as good as they used to be. Always sad to see an author's decline.

  30. Demosthenes says:

    (I should add that I have no idea whether Grifter is actually anti-Chick-fil-A or not. In re-reading my post, I realized that my words could easily be interpreted as a slam against him for something he hasn't actually said. I sincerely apologize for my poor phrasing. And even if Grifter does actually feel that way, the apology still holds.)

  31. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Tsarina of Tsocks,

    I try not to let the creator's idiocies spoil art that I like for its own sake for me, but Wagner – or at least the Ring Cycle – is a little different. I think that Wotan is one of the creepiest of the well known Pagan Gods and I detest the Siegfried "hero who is almost totally innocent of thought" model. I tried to keep an open mind when my Lady wanted to watch the whole cycle on video, but I couldn't. My awareness that Wagner was a proto-Nazi came afterwards. I can listen to some of the grand music, but if I'm being asked to actually watch the story unfold, I have a powerful urge to climb onstage and slap each and every character silly.

  32. tsrblke says:

    @Grifter

    Your critique of staw man is fairly accurate. Except that you countered with your own strawman. Would I eat at KKK burger? A place that put's its mantra right into the title. Eh, probably not (so you got me there). Am I going to stop shopping on Amazon because they donated to Pro-Gay Marriage causes or conversely stop eating at Chick-Fil-A because they donate to anti-gay marriage causes? No. It just doesn't usually enter into my calculation who's donating to whom, or whose CEO said what.
    You're right that perhaps it's a bit much to say that quality should be sole determinator, but perhaps it's so large that it overrides all but the most egregious corperate policies. At what point is your cooperation in the aciton you despise so distant that it ceases to matter?

  33. Talisker says:

    If I buy a book by OSC, he collects a royalty from my purchase. If I buy a Wagner CD, he's still dead. I suspect that's largely why I'll do the latter, but not the former.

  34. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    Clearly, you have a different definition of calumny than me.

    For reference, here is a sample found in 3 seconds of googling (actually, according to google, it was found in "0.24 seconds"):

    "How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn."

    "Since the politically correct are loudly unwilling to fight or die for their version of America, and they are actively trying to destroy the version of America that traditional Americans are willing to fight or die to defend, just how long will "America" last, once they've driven out the traditional culture?"

    "Depriving us of any democratic voice in these sweeping changes may not lead to revolution or even resistance. But it will be just as deadly if it leads to despair. For in the crisis, few citizens will lift a finger to protect or sustain the elite that treated the things we valued — our marriages, our children, and our right to self-government — with such contempt."

    These are from a couple of his pieces. Now, if you feel "suggested" was too strong a word, I'll correct it to "implied armed revolt was okay in response to gay marriage". Better?

    And, for the record, speech is a form of action. It's obviously not the same kind of action as acting on speech is, and I'm certainly not in favor of censorship, however, by the same token, when I think a businessperson is morally bankrupt (as I do the Chik-Fil-A guy), I do think they have to deal with the consequence: that someone might not want to deal with them. The owner of CFA made a public statement; to complain when people decide that means they don't want to do business with him (and I don't know that he's doing it, but others are) is akin to when someone posts something stupid and wrong on Facebook and gets huffy when corrected; if you didn't want this to be part of the debate, you wouldn't have said it to the whole world.

  35. Grifter says:

    @tsrblke:

    I did not counter with a straw man. You said the product was all that mattered, I used an admittedly extreme example to show that that is not true. That is not at all what a straw man is.

  36. @CSPS – Hee. That would be redundant. Are you not forgetting that opera is inherently silly to begin with? ;-)

    NB not to disagree with you about either Wotan or Siegfried (though "creepy" isn't exactly the first adjective that leaps to mind about the former). The whole cycle suffers from a shortage of good guys and indeed a shortage of smart guys. Then again, most of that is not Wagner's doing, and what he did with some of the material, by way of bringing it to life and making its emotional underpinnings intelligible, is pretty damn interesting. Also… hardly seems fair to dismiss him purely based on the Ring – there's a whole lot more to him than that. Some of the characters in Meistersinger, Flying Dutchman, Rienzi, etc., have actual brains and/or consciences and complexities – way beyond the Volsung stereotypes. You don't have to like all the music – I don't – but it was an approach to composition and characterization that was revolutionary for its time. (And if nothing else, it also supplied fodder for some of Jerome K. Jerome's funniest writing ever.)

  37. tsrblke says:

    @Grifter,
    You're right, it's more appropriately a ad absurdum argument.
    In any case I said "most important (if not sole)." not merely "only" (or sole). Indeed many other factors go into choosing something (convience, location, etc.) my statement was meant to be saying "but political aspects are near the damned bottom of my list."
    I gave an admittedly charitable reading to Mataconis's writing and proffered my own take on it.
    I acutally don't consider it a straw man to say that it would be challenging to put everything through the lens of "does this company support my beliefs." Almost every company engages in broad actions politically. It's certianly not a strawman to say if I judged using that criteria I wouldn't be able to see Disney movies, as an example, (which I enjoy) and would have to slice numerous companies off my shopping list. The effort alone to study the companies would be very high.
    If this doesn't make the news because it's soundbyte worthy, how many people would have even known CFA's CEO's stance on the issue? (Likely very few, especially since I don't think it's changed, and no one cared until now.)
    Stepping up one level, my comments were meant to say that I think the biggest thing here is that people are consistant. If you're not going to shop at CFA because their owner said something you disagree with so much, then you should treat all companies like that. If you decide you don't care much, ditto.

  38. Demosthenes says:

    Grifter — BS. There's nothing in any of those quotes that either says or implies anything about armed revolt. So maybe he shouldn't have said "destroy." It's an unfortunate choice of word. But that's all you're hinging your objection on. There are legitimate methods of bringing down a government — for example, at the ballot box. And if you were actually familiar with the bulk of Card's political rhetoric, you would realize how far out of context you're taking things.

    Just to be fair, though, I'll withdraw "calumny" and replace it with "uncharitable untruth." Better for you, I hope?

    "And, for the record, speech is a form of action."

    Sigh. In the sense that breathing is a form of action, I suppose speech is as well. But you know perfectly well the sort of distinction I am drawing. If you want to choose to be intolerant of other people's speech, and to not deal with them based purely on what they say, then that's fine. It is my understanding that you have the right. (Although it's not fine, IMNSHO, that you throw around the term "morally bankrupt" with such seeming abandon.) But all that attitude will do, if adopted widely, is to lead to a less tolerant public sphere. That's not what any of us should want.

  39. Grifter says:

    @tsrblke:

    It is a straw man, because no one is making the argument that someone should vet every company for complete agreement with their own values.

  40. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    It is not an untruth. I gave the relevant quotes.

    Also:
    Are you really saying that you feel no one should ever let a person's words influence their willingness to do business with them?

  41. perlhaqr says:

    I'm with Lizard above, personally. I don't think that the Blake's Lotaburger corporation (a local New Mexico hamburger chain) has noticed a significant drop in revenue since I found out that the owner of the company (all the restaurants are company owned, it's not a franchise operation) gave a hefty chunk of change to support CA Proposition 8. I mean, I ate there a fair bit, but not that much.

    But while I (sort of) support the owner's right to spend his money advocating things I hate, I can ensure that in the future he won't be doing it with my money. (I say "sort of" because I'm an anarchist who really doesn't believe in democracy. I don't accept the notion that my or anyone else's autonomy are subject to a vote.)

    I do not accept that it's irrational to say "I will not contribute to the financial well being of an entity which will use that money to support causes I find vile."

  42. Demosthenes says:

    It is an untruth, and I made the case why.

    If we're talking about political speech, which is the context in which all this takes place…that's absolutely what I'm saying. Now if someone personally insults me or my family or my friends, I grant you I'd go elsewhere. But that's precisely because it IS personal. If it's just that they don't like a group of which I happen to be a member (or, more likely, that they hold and choose to articulate some beliefs which are counter to mine), I don't see why my distaste for their speech should lead to me depriving myself of their services. That doesn't get anybody anywhere.

    I'm not going to refuse to eat at someone's restaurant just because he donates a ton of money to President Obama. I don't refuse to shop at Sears just because they withdrew their support from the Boy Scouts. And if the best contractor I could find absolutely adored Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam…well, I wouldn't like it, but it wouldn't stop me from hiring him to fix my roof. I may not be able to precisely articulate where the line is, but I think it's a fairly clear one.

  43. Damon says:

    So even if you have a problem with the Boy Scouts, why would you have a problem with Chick-fil-A? What are they actually DOING that's worth a boycott?

    Uh, they're financing efforts to ensure that I'm denied equality. It's not that complicated; I'm surprised you need something like that explained to you.

  44. Kat says:

    Ken, in the second line (first paragraph), I think you mean offensive. :)

  45. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    No, you said it was an "unfortunate choice of words" and that "if I were familiar with the bulk of Card's rhetoric", I'd know he meant something else. I am familiar with his rhetoric, and that makes me feel even more like he meant what I said.

    You don't get to just say things and make them true.

    He talked about people willing to "fight and die" for "their vision of America" and said that if gay marriage were allowed, it would be a "mortal enemy" to be "destroyed". I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that he was saying armed revolt in response to gay marriage would be fine, and you haven't given a single reason not to think that. I see you choose to interpret it differently; but don't pretend like I'm coming out of left field.

    "I may not be able to precisely articulate where the line is, but I think it's a fairly clear one." That makes no sense. There are no circumstances where you cannot articulate where the line is, while still saying it's a "clear one". The most famous instance of that I can think of is "I can't define porn, but I know it when I see it", except that that is constantly quibbled over. I feel that the CFA owner is a bad person and a bad American, because he wants his religious values imposed on a country that has explicit religious freedom, and he's bigoted against a class of people. Therefore, I don't want to give him money. You can choose to give him money, that's fine, but you haven't given a cogent argument why choosing not to is somehow wrong.

  46. Xenocles says:

    I suppose it's worth asking the following (without prejudice): If it's acceptable to deny a business custom because of the business's values, is it acceptable to fire an employee who does not share the employer's values? To me, the labor-salary transaction seems similar to the provider-client transaction.

  47. Damon says:

    Yeah, "fight and die" is pretty unambiguous. It takes some real mental gymnastics to try to make that mean something else.

  48. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    In some states, that is already the case. Az, for example, is one of those states where most employees are under "at will" employment. I've known people fired for their opinions.

  49. Damon says:

    @Xenocles — that seems to imply (in the phrase "if it's acceptable") that it might not be acceptable. Is there some plausible argument to be made that I am morally obligated to ignore what a business does with my money in deciding whether to do business with them?

  50. Xenocles says:

    Not to me, but I wrote the question acknowledging that there are two sides to the first matter.

  51. Damon says:

    Having finally bothered to read the Douglas Mataconis piece, I think I strained my eyes from rolling them so hard. He concludes by characterizing the company's decision not to make further statements on marriage equality as being the result of bullying. That poor, poor company! They spoke, and other people spoke in response to what they said! Truly, what sort of awful bully would decide to respond to speech with speech of their own!

    I feel stupider for having been exposed to that nonsense.

  52. Xenocles says:

    That's interesting, Grifter. I doubt that freedom is limitless, though – I kept the question rather open-ended.

  53. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    It's limited only by federal law as regards to protected classes (though I'm not sure how on that one) and protected concerted workplace activities, at least as far as I know. I happen to work in a place limited by a "just cause" clause in a labor agreement.

  54. Damon says:

    It's a poor comparison, in my opinion, because must employees know we're at-will (most states are at-will states now, right?) and we know not to make public statements that might piss off our bosses. I can see why Mr. Cathy, having inherited a large business, might not have that same experience, but it hardly makes me feel sympathy at seeing him face some very, very minor consequences for his words and the money he's donated to anti-gay causes.

  55. Xenocles says:

    At any rate, the question was not meant to be related to the law, just morality.

  56. Grifter says:

    @Damon:

    I do think it was a fair question on Xenocles' part, though; would we have sympathy for someone fired for their opinions? I happen to think that businesses should be limited more than individuals, both legally and ethically, but it's certainly an interesting question to discuss.

  57. repsac3 says:

    I start with the premise that if money is speech, I want as many of my measly dollars as possible to be lifting their voices in accord with my values. The way I see it, individual citizens don't have enough ways to influence the world as it is, and I'm certainly not going to willingly fail to use an agent of change I have at my disposal.

    Beyond that, I think a whole lot of what we do in this world speaks to and in effect casts a vote for one's values regardless–whether one does or doesn't purchase Chick-fil-A over the company's social stands or because they love (or hate) the food, the advertising, the way the drive-thru's work, or for any other reason, that person is speaking up for their values.

    To me, paying attention to both the value of the products and the sociopolitical values of the people who create them are important. I prefer to reward those who agree with me and ignore (if not outright punish) those who don't, including via my wallet–another way I express myself, money being speech, n'all….

    Some folks just like chicken (or prefer pizza).

    That's America, in a nutshell.

    Some folks will consume all the news they can, learning about all the issues and carefully weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Other folks will vote for the one who looks a lot like their favorite movie actor or whose mother was born just two towns over. Values, either way.

  58. Demosthenes says:

    Damon: Money is a form of speech. And the last time I checked, gay people and straight people had the same marriage rights — in every state in America, we can both marry people of the opposite gender. I'm surprised you need that explained to you.

    Grifter:

    "You don't get to just say things and make them true."

    Those would be words to live by, for you. And I suggest you start. Card never said that gay marriage was a 'mortal enemy' to be 'destroyed,' as you imply. You cited the quote that disproves your implication. And his quote about a "version of America" to "fight or die for" was pretty clearly hyperbole — on both sides. You do understand what hyperbole is, don't you?

    All of which is quite aside from your original point, which was that Card encouraged armed revolt against the government. And that's wrong. Read those quotes. He never said he encouraged it. He never implied encouragement. He didn't even say that HE would try to "destroy" and "bring down" a government that did, just that a bunch of hypothetical married people might tell the government that someday soon. His words give you no reason to suspect he would either encourage or participate in such a "revolt" (and his personal life less so — considering that Card is a lifelong scholar and writer known for his battles with weight, I think his personally manning the barricades in defense of traditional marriage is highly unlikely).

    At the very worst, he is simply saying that if the current culture wars continue, an armed struggle against the government WILL happen — which is a descriptive statement, not a normative one. Saying something will happen does not mean you're encouraging it, or even that you think it's a good thing. Moreover, it's clearly ridiculous, especially with the benefit of hindsight — did we see armed insurrections in New Hampshire or Iowa? Did we see little compounds develop there as straight people withdrew from society to raise their children in a gay-free environment? Card is a smart man, but like everyone, he has his blind spots — and this is clearly one of them. I mean, I just laughed at what he said, it's so transparently over the top. You should go and do likewise.

    "That makes no sense. There are no circumstances where you cannot articulate where the line is, while still saying it's a 'clear one'."

    You're absolutely right. Let me modify appropriately. I may not be able to precisely articulate where the line is RIGHT NOW, but it seems fairly clear TO ME. It is difficult for me to give a quick and simple description of where the line is, because I've never really tried before. I have, however, made the observation that I wouldn't refuse to patronize someone for what I consider to be purely political speech, but I would refuse to patronize someone who insulted me. There's a beginning to a line there.

    "I feel that the CFA owner is a bad person and a bad American, because he wants his religious values imposed on a country that has explicit religious freedom, and he's bigoted against a class of people. Therefore, I don't want to give him money."

    Let's generalize that statement. So every American that opposes gay marriage, is therefore both a bad person and a bad American? Is that seriously what you believe? Because if so, that's just messed up. More broadly, do you call every American who disagrees with you on issues that matter to you a bad person and a bad American? Because if so, you and Sarah Palin have something in common. That wasn't meant as a compliment, by the way.

    "You can choose to give him money, that's fine, but you haven't given a cogent argument why choosing not to is somehow wrong."

    I have freely acknowledged that it's your right to refuse to patronize someone on whatever grounds. So in a rights-sense, I'm not trying to argue you're wrong. I have said that your attitude, if adopted widely, will lead to a less tolerant public sphere. That, I have a problem with, and I do think it's wrong. You yourself are providing ample evidence for that argument, by the way, with your manifest intolerance toward people with different opinions…calling into question how good an American someone is, wrenching someone's words out of context, etc. I hope to God that this country doesn't become filled with people who take that attitude.

    Although I do have to thank you for the good laughs. Saying that Dan Cathy is a bad person and a bad American purely because he disagrees with you on gay marriage, and is trying to do something about it, was pretty amusing in an "I can't believe an educated person just said that" sort of way. But the picture you've inspired in my head of Orson Scott Card in a Rambo headband wielding an AK-47? Now that is absolutely hysterical. So thank you.

  59. Damon says:

    Damon: Money is a form of speech. And the last time I checked, gay people and straight people had the same marriage rights — in every state in America, we can both marry people of the opposite gender. I'm surprised you need that explained to you.

    And with this I think you've made your actual motives for defending these bigots eminently clear.

  60. Demosthenes says:

    repsac3:

    "I start with the premise that if money is speech, I want as many of my measly dollars as possible to be lifting their voices in accord with my values…I'm certainly not going to willingly fail to use an agent of change I have at my disposal…To me, paying attention to both the value of the products and the sociopolitical values of the people who create them are important."

    You don't actually live by that premise, I bet. Do you question the business owners and employees of every business you patronize, to see whether their values accord with yours? Do you refuse to go to (just an example) the McDonald's at 12th and State, even if you don't (or didn't) have a problem with McDonald's generally, because the franchisee there isn't in accord with your political views? And that must be really hard if you buy anything off E-Bay or Amazon's used market. Many people there aren't so good about e-mail.

    Or is it just that, once you hear about someone doing or saying something you don't like, you stop (or don't start) buying from them? Because if so, that's your right, although I object to you actually doing it for the same reasons I've already explained to Grifter. But — and I don't mean to insult you by saying this — I just find it highly unlikely that you're as proactive in honoring your principles as you've made it seem. Most people tend to be more reactive.

  61. Christophe says:

    @Grifter:

    "I happen to think that businesses should be limited more than individuals, both legally and ethically, but it's certainly an interesting question to discuss."

    It's an assumption of most employment law that the employer-employee relationship is of a different nature than the customer-vendor relationship. In general, an employer is considered to be in a position of unequal power over an employee, and thus has significantly more constraints on its behavior than a customer does vis-a-vis a vendor.

    In sort, my deciding not to buy a sandwich from Chik-Fil-A is much less damaging to Chik-Fil-A than my employer deciding to fire me. Even in at-will states, there are reasons you can fire someone, and reasons you can't.

    (Of course, if I had signed a contract with Chik-Fil-A to cater a party and then cancelled it due to the CEO's statements, that might be a horse of a different color.)

    Generally, the courts have been tending towards: What the employee does on the employer's time is not protected; what the employee does on their time is, but that's a huge generalization in a complex area.

  62. Demosthenes says:

    Damon:

    "And with this I think you've made your actual motives for defending these bigots eminently clear."

    Have I? I don't think so. I just gave you the same kiss-off-line treatment you gave me, taking advantage of the fact that "equality" is a value-loaded word and can mean different things to different people.

    The only thing I think you can fairly discern about my motives from my comment is that I enjoy having fun at the expense of people whom I find to be both unpleasant and obnoxious.

  63. Damon says:

    I just find it highly unlikely that you're as proactive in honoring your principles as you've made it seem. Most people tend to be more reactive.

    I'll leave it to the brighter students in the class to attempt to explain to this one the concept of the "excluded middle" and why we call it a fallacy.

  64. M. says:

    While I'm aware that my actions as an individual are by their nature rather impotent, boycotts are part of my moral code. My logic is "Because fuck you, that's why." It may be utterly ineffective, not even a drop in the drop in the bucket, but I get meaningful satisfaction out of giving the finger in my own way. I do fantasize about being rich enough to give the finger in meaningful ways, though I highly suspect I'd end up devoting my life to being a vindictive harpy and/or consuming premium vodkas.

  65. Christophe says:

    @Demothenes:

    With all due respect, some of us are perfectly comfortable with efforts towards improvement, rather than perfection-or-nothing.

  66. Xenocles says:

    I think it can have as much to do with how the offensive content relates to the brand as anything else. If I know the owners of a company are my political opposites, I won't like it but if they keep their activities extracurricular I can usually live with it. On the other hand, if they come out and say "XXX value is a core part of our company's mission," then yeah, I would stop doing business with them.

    Sometimes values are related directly to brand quality – I don't buy factory-farmed meat, for example. I oppose the industrial practices and I believe the quality is inferior. (This makes the Chick-fil-A question academic for me – I don't go there anyway.)

    I think it can be just as important to seek out businesses that openly share your values – which, come to think of it, is an important part of a brand. From the example above, I do sometimes go to Chipotle because I believe they are actively trying to avoid factory farm sourcing. They may not be perfect, but I don't think it's simple lip service either. We certainly do our best to buy meat from local farmers even though it's more expensive. This way you can get double the message.

  67. Robert White says:

    Not that irrational.

    If I signed up for an "ask me anything" venue anywhere, and I discovered that an identifiable cross section of the audience was engaged in, say, racist (offensive despite my status) and anti-fag (offensive because of my status) mongering of sorts, I might have a completely rational basis for not wanting to be "asked anything" on those topics.

    Perhaps the author didn't want to be asked things like "Why didn't Bob just rape Carol in chapter four, cause the bitch clearly deserved it by the way she was all female and uppity"…

    The very fact that the sub-group is claiming censorship and whatnot because the author chose not to speak tells me the author was probably wise no to speak. Circular reasoning, but sometimes when you dodge a bullet you can't explain it with regular polygons.

  68. Christophe says:

    @Robert White –

    The main problem is that Reddis is the neutron-star-density core of the 5-year-old, "You are censoring me by reacting negatively to anything I say!" crowd.

    S.I. Newhouse, Jr. is, I am sure, taking a brief break from counting is money to thank the people who post on his little commercial website for taking it so seriously.

  69. Damon says:

    The main problem is that Reddis is the neutron-star-density core of the 5-year-old, "You are censoring me by reacting negatively to anything I say!" crowd.

    Yeah, Reddit is basically the armpit of the internet. But then, as Doug Mataconis's remarks about the "bullying" of Dan Cathy demonstrate, one never has to look far to find someone making that same stupid argument.

  70. Robert White says:

    If I were Lord of the Fags™ I would dictate that we all go in there and eat there a lot. Dressed however we normally dress etc, except for pink-triangle arm bands.

    Gay the place up, but with real every-day gay, not gay-pride-day gay. It's way too uptight and "family" (in the bad way) in those places.

    He spoke his mind, we make sure we are okay with that and then make sure their customers are okay with it as well.

    Drive out all the Right Minded™ customers or at least let them have the clue they lack.

    Last time I was in a Chick-Fil-A, with my defense contractors badge on the one hand, and my mohawk and bull-ring on the other, down in Pax River, MD. I got some looks but no grief. So use that. Don't "occupy" just patronize more publicly.

    If some company wants to make themselves a hot-spot, lets heat them up, but with provocative action towards discourse, not just provocation to disturb.

    I also don't eat dominoes pizza since they support Operation Rescue etc. I let people know that, but to about the depth of that previous sentence and only when it comes up. You cannot meaningfully publicly patronize take-away. 8-)

  71. Robert White says:

    @Christophe — Best way not to fall into a black sucking proto-hole of that sort is to stay away.

    So you agree that the author's decision to stay away is not irrational?

  72. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    He said that any government that "redefines" marriage is a "mortal enemy to be destroyed. I quoted it above.

    If I say "When will right thinking people rise up, and say that Demosthenes is an enemy to be destroyed", and talk about people willing to "fight and die" for the principle of you not existing, are you seriously saying that I'm in no way speaking towards harming you?

    And I think Mr. CFA is a bad american for the totality of his statements. For example: if someone thinks gay marriage should be illegal because all marriage is religious, therefore there shouldn't be any, I don't think that person is a bad american. By contrast, if someone feels that their own interpretation of their own religion should be enshrined in law contrary to the constitution, I do think that person is being a bad american, particularly if they support an organization like Exodus International.

  73. M. says:

    In reference to the title and @EH: What's the meaningful difference between boycotting and not having been a previous customer? The implication is that I've enjoyed Chik-Fil-A in the past, I'm obliged to give them my money now. I used to eat Chik-Fil-A every Friday night, except I'd occasionally be in the mood for Taco Cabana instead.

    I decide (for the most part) which corporations get my money regardless of my reasoning, and saying that it's irrational to boycott isn't too far from saying it's irrational to want Taco Cabana. I suppose it is irrational in the sense that most cravings that don't stem from a nutritional deficiency are irrational, but am I supposed to care enough about Chik-Fil-A's bottom line to care? Not unless he's buying my vodka.

  74. Robert White says:

    As for the depth penetration of individual action… Remember that every snowflake in the avalanche would plead innocent. Great Moments In History™ are usually the outcome of the near sigma-weight of infinite repetition of infinitesimal choices.

    If everyone decides not to recycle this can, this time, because one can doesn't make a difference, then no recycling takes place at all. But it only takes some people deciding to recycle this can this time, to recycle some cans.

    If some corporate doucebag decides to fund something retarded and everybody notices, then some other person will fund the positive opposition to it. Plus douchebad doesn't get your money. If its enough to make even a tiny dip in share prices (is CFA public?) or business, then other businesses will learn to not do that even though the total weight of change was really just a noise blip.

    The simple fact is that you can never really chase back effects to causes in a situation like this because you can't know what you just pushed from public into the realm of the covert.

    If each actor acts to the call of their own conscience, you are likely to get the best median effects, which is pretty much the best you can do.

    Part of that avalanche effect is the invariable presence of the to boycott or not to boycott conversation. It to is necessary to make people notice the median shifts.

    It's just life, you know?

  75. Robert White says:

    I wrote a long discussion (or perhaps screed) of the role of marriage in a previous thread on this board. I don't know how to do the linky-thing to sub comments here. Go there and read that. 8-)

  76. Robert White says:

    Is there a way to search out all my previous posts hidden somewhere in this blogging software?

  77. John Kindley says:

    I ate a Chick-fil-A sandwich for the first time out of misguided reaction to the threats of the mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco to unconstitutionally exclude franchises from their cities. They tried something similar at IUSB a year or so ago. This was pretty damn irrational on my part. The sandwich tasted like ashes in my mouth, but I believe this was primarily due to the quality of the product, and this gesture of "support" won't be repeated. Frankly, as a former Catholic I am open to expressions of traditional Christian conceptions of sexuality. While ultimately I guess I don't agree with these conceptions, I personally don't have an interest in seeing such expressions squelched from public discourse. Call me seriously wishy-washy on that score. I suppose this makes the genuine free speech issues, which have only so far as I can see been implicated by the mayors' probably empty threats, loom even larger for me.

  78. Robert White says:

    Note to the whole employment at will thing…

    I was fired from F5 Networks by a Mormon manager who decided I was coming on to him. (I was actually trying to take the mouse from his hand to point at a particular blinking feature while we were looking at HomeStarRunner.com, but you know homophobia.)

    They got around the whole issue by not citing a cause for actual dismissal. And I don't look "harmless enough" to claim innocence well enougth for a jury to go my way, plus suing former employers is dumb, even though I did look into it at the time…

    The point of this story is that its really easy to fire people for speech and whatnot, and get away with it, just by not citing cause at all. This is why business lobby interests have never risen up against employment at will laws.

  79. M. says:

    @John Kindley: I can take or leave the sandwich, but the nuggets are individually-sized bits of taste and textural paradise.

  80. M. says:

    @Robert White: What a load of shit.

  81. Robert White says:

    @M. — Nah the shitty part was the esclation. Half an hour after "The incident" the manager pulled me aside and told me that he wasn't going to take action (etc) but I wasn't to attend the department barbeque at managers-house because after he discussed "the incident" with (one of my coworkers) neither he nor my coworker felt comfortable having me at the picnic with their children…

    Seriously. In this day and age. (well that day and age anyway, it was like six years ago.)

    But I believe in the instantaneously self-punishing nature of life. I made sure to give an unbiased report to the HR people. The asked a lot of leading questions and I gave honest answers.

    Q Can you tell us about the meeting?
    A What meeting? My boss called me into his office to show me funny movies on the internet, it wasn't actually a meeting.

    Q Can you tell us what it means to be in a harassment free workplace?
    A I always assumed it meant that if you tried to take over control of a mouse, the other guy wouldn't panic, repeatedly try to grapple you, back you into a desk, a wall, and a door frame grabbing at your wrists, while saying nonsense about how -they- were very uncomfortable with the situation.

    (etc).

    I actually acted it out, play by play, for the firing squad and that turned the summary firing into a two week inquiry followed by a firing. I don't think they -could- fire the manager given the totality of how dysfunctional that place was. But you know, I'm pretty sure his stupidity left another mark on his dumb ass.

    Plus I let a couple of the more talented (and also gay) people know what was going on, so that they could be on guard.

    You know, there is a reason that most of the people who came on board at that companies founding advanced and made bank, while this one manager didn't make it off the front lines.

    So I left his closeted mormon ass (my buddy was all "you mean he's -not- gay?" 8-), talked several of my friends out of finding and beating his ass (some of my friends are unruly and a touch earthy, protective, and straight) and went off and got a job for 30% more money and all is generally right with the world.

    8-)

  82. Christophe says:

    @Robert White:

    "So you agree that the author's decision to stay away is not irrational?"

    Certainly, events after he made his decision have indicated that perhaps he made the right choice.

  83. repsac3 says:

    @Demosthenes: Nowhere did I say one must consider one's values in absolutely every instance, or that not doing so in some cases–whether out of ignorance or because dammit, I really want that burger–invalidates those times when one does shop here rather than there because of the company's stand on marriage equality (for or against), employee healthcare (whether you believe they offer too much or too little), or any other issue you care about. That's like saying one's opposition to US military action in any one case, means that one must therefore oppose (or at least weigh in on) US military action in every case, or one's opposition in the particular case is somehow less worthy. I'm sorry, but that's nonsense.

    To be absolutely clear, I believe that one starts where one starts and does what one can, and that every action one takes in furtherance of affecting the world in a positive way is a step in the right direction. It's like the story of The Boy and the Starfish. If litter is something that bothers you, there is no shame in only picking up one plastic shopping bag worth of garbage at a trash-strewn playground while watching your kids play on the swings. You made that playground one plastic shopping bag's worth more clean. Every little bit helps.

    Now, since you dragged me in, I don't share your view about the difference between speech and action, in the sense that what one says is an expression of what one actually does, intends to do, or would like to do. I'm not suggesting that a person saying "I want to rob a bank" is the same as actually robbing a bank or that one could or should be legally prosecuted for the thoughts they express…but I might consider avoiding walking into a bank with that guy, just in case.

    Words express ideas and beliefs, and some ideas and beliefs are offensive, whether acted on or not. In the case of Chick-fil-A, I'm not offended by the CEO's proclamation of faith or his belief about the sinful nature of homosexuality. I disagree, but I treat things like that the same way I treat those who don't eat certain foods on certain days based on their religious beliefs. In both cases, I'm good, as long as you don't insist that I believe what you believe, or try to pass laws forcing me to adhere to your religious beliefs. If your church teaches you not to engage in homosexual behavior or eat meat on Fridays, I'm cool with that. But when you try to enact laws forbidding me to eat steak on Friday (or have sex with another consenting adult, whatever the day stitched into my underwear), your crossing the line. Chick-fil-A donated money and took other actions that help to prevent certain consenting adults from forming the relationships they choose, and partaking of the same benefits as other consenting adults who do so. And I'm opposed to that. It's that simple.

  84. Demosthenes says:

    Damon:

    "I'll leave it to the brighter students in the class to attempt to explain to this one the concept of the 'excluded middle' and why we call it a fallacy."

    It's such a pity you excluded yourself and the rest of the not-as-bright students. I was rather looking forward to that.

    Christophe:

    "With all due respect, some of us are perfectly comfortable with efforts towards improvement, rather than perfection-or-nothing."

    I understand that…with the stipulation that of course I don't agree that the more effective directing of dollars along repsac's principle necessarily constitutes an "improvement" in a different sense, and may actually constitute a regression in terms of being able civilly to deal with people who disagree with you. (In that respect, Robert White's proposed solution seems to me to be an admirable expression of civil disagreement while making one's larger point absolutely clear.) I was merely questioning whether repsac is exactly as strong when it comes to adhering to that principle as he or she claimed to be. Even back when I agreed with him and made an effort to police my money, I didn't do all that well. Though I'm sure Damon will have something to say about me based on that, too…

    Grifter, sigh:

    "He said that any government that 'redefines' marriage is a 'mortal enemy to be destroyed. I quoted it above."

    And you subsequently implied that gay marriage was the mortal enemy to be destroyed. Maybe that's splitting hairs, but oh well.

    "If I say 'When will right thinking people rise up, and say that Demosthenes is an enemy to be destroyed', and talk about people willing to 'fight and die' for the principle of you not existing, are you seriously saying that I'm in no way speaking towards harming you?"

    Well, if we're being literal, it already sort of happened with my namesake. And if you really wanted to try that, you could get Damon on board, I'm sure.

    What Card said was: "How long before married people answer the dictators thus…" And no, I don't interpret that as any kind of threat. As I said before, I find it silly. Mentioning that there might be "people willing to 'fight and die' for the principle of [me] not existing" is similarly not a threat. It's a statement, either of fact or of fiction.

    "And I think Mr. CFA is a bad american for the totality of his statements. For example: if someone thinks gay marriage should be illegal because all marriage is religious, therefore there shouldn't be any, I don't think that person is a bad american. By contrast, if someone feels that their own interpretation of their own religion should be enshrined in law contrary to the constitution, I do think that person is being a bad american, particularly if they support an organization like Exodus International."

    So…you have no problems with people thinking gay marriage is illegal because all marriage is religious, "therefore there shouldn't be any." From the context, there are two ways I can read that statement, and neither goes well for you that I can see. Would you care to clarify what you meant by "any"?

    But you do feel that someone is being a bad American if they wish to enshrine their religion in law "contrary to the Constitution." To make that applicable to this situation, here's what you would have to establish:

    1. That Chick-fil-A, and Cathy, are actually engaged in such conduct. Donating money to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as an example, is not actually advocating for an anti-gay-marriage law.

    2. That even if they are engaging in such conduct, it is actually contrary to the Constitution. The First Amendment says that CONGRESS won't establish a religion, and it was incorporated against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, that much is true. But passing a law against gay marriage in any state is nowhere close to establishing a religion. It simply isn't.

    And I might point out that as an implication of your view, anyone who votes for any proposition, contributes to any cause, or advocates for passage of any law WHILE ACTING FROM A RELIGIOUS MOTIVATION is, on your view, violating the Constitution and is a "bad American." I can't wait for your condemnation of much of the 19th-century abolitionist movement, many of whom seem to have been "bad Americans" (again, according to you) for forcing their religious views that slavery should be abolished on the rest of the country.

  85. Damon says:

    (In that respect, Robert White's proposed solution seems to me to be an admirable expression of civil disagreement while making one's larger point absolutely clear.)

    Yes, Robert White's idea about giving them more money with which to finance their anti-gay causes appeals to you. Surprise surprise.

  86. And here one of our local newspaper editor-things referred to the reaction to Chik-Fil-A as "…a parody of self-righteous lefty intolerance."

    Because I guess if you react negatively to speech that's cloaked in "religious values" you're by default "intolerant."

    (And really, isn't some intolerance good? Like not tolerating murder, rape… bigotry?)

  87. Demosthenes says:

    "Yes, Robert White's idea about giving them more money with which to finance their anti-gay causes appeals to you. Surprise surprise."

    Well, you sad sad little troll, it's certainly a better strategy to get Chick-fil-A to CHANGE their behavior than anything you're likely to do.

  88. nimh says:

    Hi,

    You write:

    "Some argue he is censoring them by not speaking at a place that creeps him out."

    Maybe some do so, but there have been more articulate arguments among those criticizing Hines' move that raised a censorship angle.

    After all, the writer did not just decide not to take part; he also "emailed the person who was coordinating my Reddit event to tell him I will not be doing it unless that thread is removed". He concluded that "I’ve made the choice to walk away, [partly] for the hope that it sends a message to those with the ability to make a change at Reddit." In short, he did not just choose to withdraw from the event, he used the withdrawal as a way to appeal to, and pressure, Reddit to censor the offending thread.

    Is calling on an entity to censor something an issue of censorship? He obviously is not doing any censoring himself, I agree with you. That much is obvious. But he is calling for censorship. It doesn't hurt to point that out.

    You also bring up the point about how the right of free speech does not, in any case, give anyone a "positive right" to make someone else publish or contribute to what they are saying. It only gives people the "negative right" of protection against the *government* stopping them from saying it. This is true, of course, legally speaking, and always a useful reminder, since many people seem to keep forgetting it.

    However, as one of the commenters on Hines' blog wrote, "free speech is a value, not just a part of our law." Another commenter summarized the limits of your point about the legal dimension of free speech rights as follows:

    "I feel like your confusion stems from the fact that free speech, in addition to being a legal concept, is also an ethical concept. This is because most legal concepts are based on ethical concepts."

    "Take the example of murder: Only certain types of killing are illegal. Others are perfectly legal (for instance, the government will even pay you to do it in Iraq /rimshot). But there’s still the closely-related ethical concept of pacifism. [..]"

    "It’s the same idea with free speech. Only certain types of censorship are banned by the Constitution – namely, when it’s done by the government. Other types of censorship are perfectly legal. Just like many people believe there are good reasons to kill someone, many people believe there are good reasons to censor someone. But there’s the closely-related ethical concept of free speech, and it’d be ridiculous to get mad at a free speech advocate for being against legal forms of censorship."

  89. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes, I never said Card threatened anyone. Don't read what you want to read, read the actual words. What I said was, he "implied armed revolt was okay in response to gay marriage". And that is exactly what he did.

    And yes: if you want to limit someone else's behavior, and you advocate that legal position, based on nothing but your religion, you are pushing your religion on others and trying to enshrine it into law. When you make a public statement that talks about how God defines marriage, you are trying to get the Congress to ignore the constitution. I like the constitution, and I feel it's what makes America great; I feel that if you try to convince the government to ignore the constitution, then you are being a bad American.

  90. Grifter says:

    To be clear: Then you are a bad American in my opinion.

  91. Demosthenes says:

    Okay, Grifter.

    "I never said Card threatened anyone. Don't read what you want to read, read the actual words."

    You cited bits of Card's quotes, you applied them to me, and you asked if I wouldn't interpret that as someone urging people to harm me. You can call someone urging people to harm someone else what you like. I call it a threat.

    "What I said was, he 'implied armed revolt was okay in response to gay marriage'. And that is exactly what he did."

    No, he did not, and you continuing to say it doesn't make it so. He implied it was likely, nigh guaranteed, to happen (which, again, is just silly)…but not that it was okay.

    "if you want to limit someone else's behavior, and you advocate that legal position, based on nothing but your religion, you are pushing your religion on others and trying to enshrine it into law."

    Well, I don't talk to people who think that so many abolitionists were bad Americans, so have fun being a bigot on your own.

  92. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    You're right. And the king who wondered "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest" was totally just wondering who would eventually do it, he wasn't at all subtly suggesting or implying it would be a good thing.

    As regard to abolitionists: You really think that their only argument was religion? They had no other arguments whatsoever?

  93. Robert White says:

    @Demosthenes — I begin to suspect that you have never been in a Chick-Fil-A… My suggestion would not make them more money. The average redneck "family values" customer would flee with their whole mob in tow if you did anything to crack their tiny little minds open.

    Their heads would pop if the saw a miner and a cowboy kissing or something.

    I play both sides of the street when I suggest my ideas. 8-)

  94. Chris R. says:

    Grifter, I also find it curious that the assumption has been made, without the presence of religion Abolitionist would have not known that slavery was wrong or would not be inclined to act upon such knowledge. I guess without religious beliefs no wrongs could be righted.

  95. Damon says:

    Well, you sad sad little troll, it's certainly a better strategy to get Chick-fil-A to CHANGE their behavior than anything you're likely to do.

    Yes, any parent or psychologist will agree that the way to deal with bad behavior is to make sure to reward it consistently!

  96. Chris R. says:

    In regards to the effectiveness of boycott, in the food/retail industries if a vulnerable store/restaurant lost even 5- 10% of its business it could become unprofitable to operate. I am not saying chain wide. Also a general dip in comparable sales could slow down franchise or corporate expansion.

  97. Grifter says:

    I will say, personally I don't expect my lack of patronage to change minds or put CFA out of business, nor do I really care if either of those things happens. I just don't want to give them my money.

  98. Dan Weber says:

    (At ~100 comments in, this will probably get lost, but what the hey.)

    I think it's perfectly fine for one to individually avoid products from people who one doesn't like, for just about any reason.

    However, I think serious powers are being called up that cannot be easily put down by trying to organize boycotts that pressure other people. It's honky-dorey when the boycott is of a cause you support, but imagine it's your views that are held by society to be extremely unpopular. What if you find yourself completely unable to work or purchase goods and services because everyone is afraid to deal with you or else end up on a blacklist?

    I think trying to pressure advertisers crosses that line. (It's of course Constitutionally protected and should always remain so.)

  99. Christophe says:

    @Demosthenes:

    If you really, deeply, honestly can project an "… and of course that's terrible" at the end of Card's comments, I think you may be a bit wrapped up in your desire for a nice drag-down argument. It beggars believe that he was not issuing his version of the warning at the end of An Inspector Calls. It's a delightfully pharisaical debate to consider whether that is a "threat" or not, but it is a clear statement that violent revolution will occur if gay marriage is permitted. I think it's probably not the case that Card was promising, personally, to take up a sniper position in the next couple of weeks, so if that's what is required to issue a "threat," OK, then.

    Mr Card is an anti-gay bigot. This is so far beyond discussion that it would as if you wished to demand evidence that the Pope is Catholic.

    The point Grifter was trying to make (if I may be so bold), and it is a reasonable one, is that in the United States we don't make public policy on the basis of what will make it more or less convenient for a religious adherent to practice their beliefs. Thus, you can oppose slavery, gay marriage, or the color mauve for any religious reason that you care to, but if you come into the public square demanding public action for the sole reason that slavery, gay marriage, or mauve are making it hard for you to practice your religion, you should be met with a very cool reception.

    I would hope that you can think of some non-Biblical arguments against slavery. Indeed, I can come up with more pro- than anti-slavery ones from that particular source.

    So, if the CEO of Chick-Fil-A wants to make the "cats 'n' dogs lying down together!" argument against gay marriage, he might be mocked, but I won't feel he has injected religion into the public sphere in violation of the Constitutional settlement. But "my religion forbids it" should, from the point of view of US laws, be met with a shrug and a "well, shame about that."

  100. Joel says:

    The big problem I have at this point isn't about what Mr. Hines will or won't do with Reddit — that's his choice, as it should be. It's the generalization that he's applied to a group of tens of millions (according to Reddit's own stats they had over 34 million unique visitors in December 2011) over a thread that statistically involved some 0.03% of them or less.

    As for the argument to speak out — well, when I see it, I do speak out. I don't see it often. That's anecdotal, I know, but the point is that it's quite possible the behavior in question is far more the exception among Redditors than the rule. Mr. Hines may be free to say what he believes and act accordingly, but I do take exception when I'm tarred by a too-broad brush to be something I abhor.

  101. Christophe says:

    What if you find yourself completely unable to work or purchase goods and services because everyone is afraid to deal with you or else end up on a blacklist?

    Speaking as the child of a blacklisted Hollywood writer, you have a point, but I am still firmly pro-boycott.

    Really, it's a strange exercise to attempt to strip consumers of all ethical considerations whatsoever. One of the things we are told over and over again until we are about to explode from the hearing of it is the Magic of the Free Market is the best way to send control signals to companies. A boycott is just a particular form of price signaling, one that relates to non-product considerations. But exactly why is that such a problem? How else are consumers expected to send signals?

    After all, we're also told that the only obligation that a corporation has is to (a) obey the law, and (b) maximize profits. If, therefore, their CEO's statements and behavior are offensive, we have two choices: (a) Pass a law (kind of repugnant to freedom), or (b) take our dollars elsewhere and send a signal to the shareholders of, "Dude, not cool."

    Telling consumers, "No, keep buying but think evil thoughts and radiate disapproval as you do so" is probably not going to work out, I'm afraid.

  102. Dan Weber says:

    I think it's A-OK for an individual to not purchase from an unliked vendor, Christophe. It's where one attempts to pressure others to follow along that I think things get dangerous.

  103. Grifter says:

    @Dan Weber:

    In what way "dangerous"? Is it really any different than Coke trying to convince everyone Pepsi sucks?

  104. Christophe says:

    That's anecdotal, I know, but the point is that it's quite possible the behavior in question is far more the exception among Redditors than the rule.

    Mr Hines said as much on his blog entry; he certainly said absolutely nothing that could be interpreted as tarring all of Reddit for this. Quite the opposite.

    But he's allowed his own threshold of pain in this regard.

    And, if I may be so bold, Reddit *does* have a problem with anti-social behavior.

  105. Grifter says:

    @Christophe:

    To be fair, all of the internet has a problem with anti-social behavior.

  106. Anony Mouse says:

    @Robert White

    "I also don't eat dominoes pizza since they support Operation Rescue etc."

    Yes and no. The founder did indeed support Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion causes, but the company was sold (to Bain) in 1998 and it is now publicly traded. So, the founder did, and undoubtedly monies from sales went to such causes, but that's not the case any more.

    Amusingly, the shareholders are still trying to live that down, 14 years later. Which probably should act as a cautionary tale to other businesses.

  107. Christophe says:

    @Dan Weber –

    One of the design characteristics of the modern corporation is that it is engineered to strip all signals except revenue signals from the nerves going from the tills to the executive suite. At this point, an organized boycott is pretty much the only tool left to get the message across.

  108. Christophe says:

    @Anony Mouse –

    I did not know that! And I try to stay up on such things.

    Of course, the more important consideration is: Does the pizza still taste like cardboard?

  109. Robert White says:

    Something was sold to Bain and managed to stay in business? Must have been after Mitt "left".

  110. Chris R. says:

    You can't blame Dominos for that, they are all about delivery.

  111. Anony Mouse says:

    The pizza has been solidly improved ever since a survey put them at the bottom of the list, tied with Chuck-E-Cheese, no less. It's quite a bit tastier than it used to be (although, I liked it well enough back then).

    And no, Romney left Bain in 1999, so he was still there. It's almost as if political distortions about Bain's practices are… distortions.

  112. Chris R. says:

    Mouse, Chuck-Every Cheese's pizza is terrible.

  113. Damon says:

    @Dan Weber

    However, I think serious powers are being called up that cannot be easily put down by trying to organize boycotts that pressure other people. It's honky-dorey when the boycott is of a cause you support, but imagine it's your views that are held by society to be extremely unpopular. What if you find yourself completely unable to work or purchase goods and services because everyone is afraid to deal with you or else end up on a blacklist?

    Of course, nothing even resembling this is under discussion . . .

  114. Anony Mouse says:

    Well, yes. I didn't think Dominoes of yore was that bad, though. Perhaps my local franchise was exceptional, or perhaps my taste in pizza hadn't matured yet. Regardless, the current iteration is a far cry from what it used to be.

    Then again, for the longest time my only criteria was "not Pizza Hut", so my standards probably weren't too high anyway.

  115. yundah says:

    Thanks, I was beginning to question my sanity. I posted some materials supporting boycotts of Chick-fil-a on my FB page and began to be told by my very conservative sister that I was censoring Cathy's, and Chick-fil-s's free speech. I pointed out that I was exercising my right to speak as well as my right to associate with (or in this case support) whomever I like. I was then told that by publishing my speech i was censoring theirs. It is all seeming rather Catch 22 and I was beginning to doubt my own logic. I hate [il]logic loops.

  116. Damon says:

    @Christophe

    Of course, the more important consideration is: Does the pizza still taste like cardboard?

    I see you missed their ad campaign a year or two back. (Hilariously, they acknowledged just how bad their pizza was, with commercials showing customers making comparisons as unflattering as yours.)

    I tried their upgraded pizza. After their changes to the product line, their pizza now tastes like slightly tangier cardboard.

  117. Chris R. says:

    Yundah, I like when people claim speech itself censors speech, it's one of those paradoxes that's only logical solution is for no one to speak at all.

  118. Christophe says:

    @Damon –

    I can't claim moral superiority on this point; in my early 20s, I ate stacks of Dominos pizza. But, you know, that's kind of the "hang on, my fuel light's on" stage of taste development.

  119. David Schwartz says:

    "Well, I don't talk to people who think that so many abolitionists were bad Americans, so have fun being a bigot on your own."

    You have an ahistorical view of the abolitionists. However, if your view of the abolitionists were correct, they would have been bad Americans — just as bad as those, such as Pope Nicholas V, who supported slavery for religious reasons.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dum_Diversas

  120. tsrblke says:

    @Grifter,
    While no one is making that exact argument, at the same time no one is articulating an internally consistant view of when a company deserves a boycott.
    I reiterate: Chick-fil-a CEO's position is not novel, nor was it hidden, but only now are people calling for mass boycotts and government officials calling to effectively ban the resturant in their cities.
    The arugment is likely to be "well this is an important issue," but that seems a bit weak considering that other companies have been involved in equally (if not more) egregious activities (e.g. Coca-Cola in Columbia) with limited long lasting effects. (I concede that the effects of the CFA "scandal" may not be long lasting, it's too early to tell, but it's certainly staying in the news longer than I expected.)
    Mataconis's article cites another article that notes company support for Occupy Wall street and Hollywood support for SOPA and PIPA (also important issues) that haven't really garnered the popular support for boycotts that CFA has (I don't see many people skipping "The Dark Knight" out of protest for WB's support of SOPA.)
    I'll concede your point that there is some threshold that causes people to switch over into protest mode, and I'll accept Ken's point that it's personal, but shouldn't it at least be internally consistant?

  121. M. says:

    @tsrbike: Perhaps not everyone is aware that other companies have been involved in equally/more egregious activities (I'd never heard of Coca Cola causing trouble in the Pacific Northwest or at the NYC university, whichever you're referring to). People are good at being reactively angry, but not necessarily good at keeping abreast at what to be angry about – hence Facebook slacktivism.

  122. repsac3 says:

    @tsrblke "shouldn't it at least be internally consistent?"

    It probably should be, but there are other factors, from plain old ignorance to one's unwillingness to give up (or intentionally buy) certain things. (One can imagine a family values Republican who supports Chick-fil-A's stand on the marriage issue but thinks chicken is vile, and thus won't be a part of Huckabee's "protest," anyway. I put no more blame on that conservative than I do a liberal who hates what Coca Cola is doing…but really likes the soda.)

    Added to that, a product's values can conflict, and you have to choose among them, sacrificing one (or more) value(s) for another. You can "Buy American"… from a non-union shop, or buy a shirt made with organic cotton… in China. Finding the shirt made with organic cotton in America by union labor can be tough–and even if you do find one, the company who sells it may be headed by a guy who donates to anti-gay causes…or it may be a really ugly shirt.

    It would be great if people were consistent in choosing the things they speak or act out in favor of or against, but we're dealing with people here… Inconsistency and irrationality are our trademark.

    Like I said above, though, I see nothing wrong with starting where you start and doing what good you can do, even if you are inconsistent or irrational about it. No, you'll never save every starfish–and you may even pass on rescuing a few hermit crabs in your quest to help the starfish too, intentionally or unintentionally–but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can, or be proud of what you did, even if it only had a tiny (but positive) real-world effect on the starfish population.

  123. Grifter says:

    @tsrblke:

    That is unfair. Whether something is bad enough to boycott is entirely subjective, because it will always be a line to be drawn by the individual. Some people, for instance, have no problem with the Occupy movement at all; those people would obviously not feel the need to boycott an Occupy-supporting business.

    For me, for example, I did boycott places that supported SOPA and PIPA while it was still a live issue. It has now been killed, so while I remember, I don't hold a grudge; those companies are not now actively trying to screw me (though I know they probably will try again soon). Gay marriage is still an active issue, and to me it's a bigger deal than SOPA or PIPA. And the people whose only argument is religion are "winning". That angers me enough to boycott, which I think is the "internal consistency" you were seeking: people boycott when they become angry (or annoyed, pick your adjective) enough to boycott. Now, whether that response is consistent well…that depends on the individual and the day.

    Also, it's worth noting that factored in is the public statement made by the owner, which is what stirred the pot up recently; as far as I know there hadn't been a public response to criticism for their positions before. When the response was a sort of "fuck you", it angered some people. Kind of how one might take issue with the BSA and their discrimination, but get really mad when they issue a public statement saying they're discriminatory because gays and atheists aren't "the best kind of citizen".

    And, as M. said, it's unfair to expect everyone to know everything. Once something like this hits the news, though, then people hear about it. And some people will say "yes, this is bad enough that now I do not want to do business with them."

  124. Chris R. says:

    I was late to the party, however I must address this since I missed it before.
    Demothenes said:

    And the last time I checked, gay people and straight people had the same marriage rights — in every state in America, we can both marry people of the opposite gender. I'm surprised you need that explained to you.

    That is akin to saying in the early 1900s that "Asians and Caucasians had the same marriage rights – in every state in America, they could marry people of the same ethnicity."

  125. Grifter says:

    @Demosthenes:

    And further (because after reading Chris R.'s post, I went back and reread some), to answer a previous question of yours, in which you say

    "From the context, there are two ways I can read that statement, and neither goes well for you that I can see. Would you care to clarify what you meant by "any"?"

    I'm very curious what "two ways" you meant, but regardless:

    I meant that if someone were to argue that marriage should not be recognized by the state at all (I'm sure you chose to interpret my words as preventing religious institutions from marrying, which is not what I meant, and I would argue that context would make that clear since I've been discussing how religion and government are separate in this country, but will gladly clarify), considering so many people want to constantly hammer home how inherently religious it is. I didn't say I agreed with such a position, just that such a person would not anger me, or be a "bad american", because they would be basing their arguments on logic and the Constitution (even if their position is extreme, and even if I might disagree with it), while someone who says "I know how marraige is defined…it's defined by God and the law should support that" does anger me, and is a bad American (in my opinion) because they're trying to force their religion on everyone else with no other logical support.

  126. Lizard says:

    If we only dealt with people who agree with us on every issue, not only would I need to get divorced immediately, I'd never date again, because the odds of me finding any woman who agreed with me on EVERYTHING are pretty much null.

    Certainly, my bookshelves are filled with the works of people who disagree with me. So is my iTunes library. I limit my acts of conscious boycott to cases where the person or entity I'm boycotting has sufficient power and influence that their opinions matter, and my contribution increases that power and influence by some small degree, and, b)They are advocating for changes in laws to compel people to act as they see fit, as opposed to advocating people change their behavior voluntarily, having been shown the Error Of Their Ways.

    It's also important to recognize the importance of public displays of support/opposition in terms of making sure the other monkeys in your tribe recognize that you smell like them and are, thus, a real monkey, and not one of those monkeys-who-are-not-like-us. If you fail to demonstrate proper behavior, the other monkeys will not give you bananas, and might just toss you to the cheetah. Anyone who says, "Oh, I don't care what other people think, I always do just what I want", you're just declaring your membership in one group of monkeys, who will welcome you with open arms, until the time you "just do what you want", which turns out to not be what THEY want, and then it's cheetah time. We can't stop being monkeys; even when we try, we just join the band of monkeys called "We're not being monkeys, really". And, yes, we can, and usually are, members of many different bands at once, and things always get fun when the two bands go to war and we have to decide which one we're in before we get kicked out of both of them (and then make a band of monkeys called 'the other monkeys don't like us because we're better than them and they're jealous of us')

    Or, in other words, joining/opposing a boycott has much more to do with the individual's self-affirmation as a person who has thus-and-such morals, values, and ideals (and identifying himself as such to the other monkeys) than it does with actually impacting a business' decisions. Is this irrational? Hardly — identifying which band(s) of monkeys you belong to is an essential part of existing in human society, and affirming your self-image through your actions is a vital part of defining yourself. Like they say, "Character is who you are in the dark." To be a healthy human being, you need to know that you actually are the person you like to think of yourself as being.

    TL;DR: Boycotts make us feel better about ourselves and announcing our participation in them makes our friends praise us and pick fleas from our fur, or, make our friends hate us so that we can tell ourselves what heroic people we are by not caring what our friends think (usually, this leads to having friends who praise you for not caring what your old friends thought, and then they pick fleas from your fur).

  127. tsrblke says:

    @Grifter,
    I never said all people should agree, I recognize the ordering of concern will vary among individuals. What I said was that an individual should be internally consistant with their beliefs. I'm still not getting that vibe as I read across the internet.
    I sort of understand your position re: SOPA and PIPA, except that those companies haven't changed. If CFA backed off in much the same manner (and just hedged their bets for a different day) would you treat them the same? (Your comment about only having "relgion" confuses and "winning" confuses me a bit as well. It seems either side in the argument only has philsophical a prioris they're running with, relgion on one side, secularism on the other, but that's more of an aside. Also, I'm not sure which side is "winning.")
    Furthermore, while I understand the idea that you can step over a line you previously haven't crossed, I'm just not comfortable setting a standard of "when it hits the media." From my perspective that only encourages willfil ignorance when it benefits a particular person. Hence my claim about inconsistancy, it's easy to boycott CFA because they aren't the only chicken sandwhich in town, it'd be significantly harder to boycott…say BP given the reliance on gasoline. I think people weigh in quality of product and necessity more than they admit into their calculus. It's not as simple as "Company X hates Gays, therefore don't buy from company X."
    Consider the hated Koch brothers. There's much out there about how aweful they are based on their choice in donations, yet I don't see vast outcry for boycotts of Georgia-Pacific (a Koch Subsidy that makes Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels, Quilted northern, among many other products.) I suspect that this is because people who like these products weight that considerably more heavily than their hatred for the Kochs. And all I'm suggesting in theory the standards for this should be relatively equal, and the responses similar (admittedly I can't find any mention in my brief searches of a Koch Positon on Marriage for a direct comparison.)
    FWIW as I progress through my 20s and into my 30s, I kinda do wish Government would just GTFO of the marriage business all together. Leave it to basic contract law and let the relgious institions determine how they'll handle their specific flocks. Because the endgame here is lose/lose frankly. At some point someone will sue some religious instition to perform their marriage against that institutions beliefs, and no one wins in that scenerio. (So let's just dissolve government intervention all together and solve that problem.)

  128. tsrblke says:

    double post, Wow, tons o' typos in there. That's the last time I don't run a long post through my word processor first.

  129. Grifter says:

    @tsrblke:

    "What I said was that an individual should be internally consistant with their beliefs. I'm still not getting that vibe as I read across the internet."

    What consistency are you looking for? I gave you some explanation for why CFA might be attracting a particular ire. What more do you want? Can you give an example of someone who is saying something inconsistent?

    You said:

    "I'm just not comfortable setting a standard of "when it hits the media." From my perspective that only encourages willfil ignorance when it benefits a particular person. Hence my claim about inconsistancy"

    …that's not inconsistent. It could be that many of these people are only doing something about this because of media attention. You can disagree with it, but that doesn't make it inconsistent. I kind of wonder if you're conflating laziness and inconsistency. Undoubtedly, some people are being inconsistent, but I think the majority are just lazy where it comes to their beliefs, and it is that laziness you're seeing: "I won't research or think about this until it's shoved in my face, then I'll angrily boycott" may not be the best philosophy, but it is nonetheless consistent.

  130. Chris R. says:

    On the subject of Coca Cola, I wasn't aware of their South American human rights issues and will no longer purchase their products. Sometimes the consistency or lack thereof is due to lack of knowledge, as it was in my case. I am anti-assassination so that's an easy choice.

  131. Damon says:

    @tsrblke:

    I reiterate: Chick-fil-a CEO's position is not novel, nor was it hidden, but only now are people calling for mass boycotts

    Um, lots of people refused to eat at Chik-Fil-A and have for years.

    I don't live in an area with Chik-Fil-A restaurants so it's a moot point in my day to day life but as far as I can tell all of my friends were already well aware of the company's actions, including the ones who do live near them, and no one I know is willing to eat there.

    I'm trying to come up with some interpretation of your posts that doesn't boil down to "I was uninformed about this issue and therefore so was everyone else, and they are hypocrites for only knowing about it now that it's become a headline" but I'm coming up short.

    At some point someone will sue some religious instition to perform their marriage against that institutions beliefs, and no one wins in that scenerio.

    I'll try to address this point as politely as possible, but, um, you are aware that there are already religious groups that refuse to perform legal male/female marriages, correct? I believe that there has yet to be a lawsuit to force a Christian Identity minister to perform an interracial marriage, or a Catholic priest to marry a divorcé. (If there has, it obviously wasn't a big deal, as such a lawsuit would of course be a total non-starter.)

    Whatever arguments there may be for the government not conferring the status of "married" on anyone, this is definitely not one of them.

  132. The Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says:

    I do not dispute anyone's right to avoid a business over disagreements about its values. I imagine everyone (including me) has an ill-defined line that, if crossed, would motivate them to discontinue doing business with someone or some company. But I also share Dan Weber's sense (expressed in the comments above) that organized boycotts have the potential for undesireable consequences.

    Personally, I cannot recall ever avoiding a business for other than business reasons. Boycotting for moral reasons in a consistent fashion (and I value consistency – perhaps for unjustifiable or idiosyncratic reasons), would require me to devote far more time to research than I am willing to spend in connection with ordinary commercial transactions. Life is too short and too busy for that as a general rule. I also think it would be more complicated to analyze businesses in this fashion than folks assume. (Whose views should be attributed to the enterprise? Of what significance are the values of related suppliers, distributors, and affiliates? How does one weigh the various values evinced by an entity to decide when, on balance, dissociation is necessary?)

    These boycotts also usually do more to alienate me from their supporters than the target (regardless of the politics involved). Per Lizard's comment, boycotts often come across as moral preening. Frequently, the "boycotters" were never meaningful customers in the first place, so the boycott is just public posturing. Really, how much money were the supposed boycotters of Chik-Fil-A spending there prior to learning of the views they find objectionable? If little or nothing, then are they really boycotting?

  133. Robert White says:

    Just nobody tell me something terrible about Papa John's….

  134. Robert White says:

    Dear Pizza Businesses — When you cut cost on dough, you lose your customers. "Thinner", "Crispier", and able to scrape varnish from furniture like a sanding sponge if you let it get cold (I'm talking to you there Pizza Hut), are not desirable attributes.

    Leave in the sugar and the the wheat… you know, the dough part.

    Dear "Sandwich" Providers — If I can feel the texture of the meat or filling through the bread its no loner bread, its a fluffy textured napkin, with all the traits of flavor and joy one looks for in napkins. Saving one dollar per hundred buns isn't a deal when everybody starts looking for someone that still sells sandwiches.

    I remember when Burger King switched to fluffed sawdust and then tried to tweak it back by half a percent at a time. They obviously found their number but I don't eat there any more.

    How is it that companies think that their profit will ramp up if they ramp their quality down?

    [end off-topic screed]

  135. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Robert White has made a very significant point, I think. At the end of the day, the Cathy's are just two people, and how they throw their money away is their own business. It affects us when it is used to influence public opinion and the result of that influence is to promote bigotry.

    Bigotry is a result of unjustified fear. Straight homophobes, particularly males, are afraid of gays. Straight men get pretty freaked out at the idea of being leered at by other men (though they expect women to put up with it without being "bitchy" and complaining). They want to believe that there are no gay men looking at them with lust in their hearts.

    If Robert shows up at a Chik-fil-A with his partner and they behave like any other normal, committed couple, some homophobes may snatch up their children and flee. If a large number of gay couples came, perhaps even staging day-long flashmobs at randomly chosen restaurants, homophobes might think twice before stopping to eat at any Chik-fil-A.

    But some straights might see gay couples coming in, eating, chatting, maybe bringing their kids with them, and realize there's nothing to be afraid of. They may even come to the conclusion that partners in a committed gay couple aren't spending a lot of time leering at other people, maybe even that gay marriage is a social good.

    Convincing people of the truth can be much more cost-effective than convincing them of a lie, especially when you're talking about two (rich) people vs. hundreds of thousands of individual Chik-fil-A customers.

    A boycott is one way of influencing corporate behavior, and no one likes to think of the profits earned from their purchase being used in ways they despise. But unless your individual purchases are large enough to make a big dent in corporate net income, other ways of getting attention may be equally effective and equally valid.

  136. M. says:

    @Robert White: Papa John's charges out the ass in the Dominican Republic. Otherwise, I got nothin' – I had a particularly good customer experience with them a week ago

  137. Chris R. says:

    JW, they make their sausage from ground up unicorns. True story.

  138. Richard says:

    @Robert White:
    I recognize your right to complain to restaurants so that they can tweak their products to better meet your preferences.

    However, I prefer a lower ratio of tasteless, high-carb bread/crust to tasty, high-fat burger/toppings. I have yet to taste a crust tasty enough to make me want more of that crust in a given bite, and less toppings.

    That being said, when the bun/crust becomes so thin that it lacks structural integrity, that is too thin.

  139. Chris R. says:

    I am now also boycotting CFA for lying to consumers and pretending to be a teenage girl on Facebook. http://gizmodo.com/chick_fil_a/

  140. Grifter says:

    @Chris R.:

    We still don't know for sure it was them, do we? We know the profile was fake, and that it was spreading positive crap…it could have been a particularly stupid supporter.

  141. MET says:

    Sigh…Ken, you make well-informed and critical citizenship sound all hard and stuff. Anybody who has ever read a comments section (self-reference – I'm so meta!) knows it's totally not a big deal. I mean, if we expected rational responses and explanations of controversial issues, we wouldn't ONLY use transcendent arguments. D'uh. But we've got a working system here, speech(+) produces speech which produces OMG DRAMA and DEMOCRACY WINS

  142. M. says:

    Man, I wish I hadn't clicked on the Reddit thread. All I did was skim, and I don't need brain bleach now; I need brain hydrochloric acid. Plus something to gouge out my eyes.

    It's a good thing I'm not particularly attached to my life; if a guy ever tries to rape me, I will make it entirely more trouble than it's worth for him to even entertain the thought.

  143. Chris R. says:

    Grifter, that's true, they did however say the Muppet toys were pulled for safety reasons. Which they later backed down from.

  144. Chris R. says:

    M, I skimmed it as well and got so angry I almost threw my tablet into a wall. So it wasn't worth going any further.

  145. Allen says:

    "Your argument holds no water with me." Isn't that what is really the matter under consideration? The rest follows from there.

  146. M. says:

    @Chris R.: It didn't quite destroy my faith in humanity like a lot of people in the thread expressed, but it did make me wish someone would invent that fabled device used to stab someone in the face over the Internet.

  147. eddie says:

    It's way too uptight and "family" (in the bad way) in those places. Drive out all the Right Minded™ customers or at least let them have the clue they lack.

    The average redneck "family values" customer would flee with their whole mob in tow if you did anything to crack their tiny little minds open. Their heads would pop if the saw a miner and a cowboy kissing or something.

    I think you'd be hard-pressed to spot any difference in demographics among the customers of Chick-Fil-A and any other fast-food joint, be it McDonald's or Taco Bell or Subway. It's not like they have a giant sign out front saying "The preferred eatery of God-fearing Fag-hating Christians" or "Supersize your meal for free by reciting the Lord's Prayer".

    They just sell sandwiches.

    And their customers are just people. They're no more redneck, freaked-out-by-Teh-Gayz ignoramuses for you to go and enlighten with your oh-so-shocking public displays of affection than any other person who wants fries and a shake to go with their meal.

    In short, on behalf of those of us who do in fact eat there from time to time because, well, they make really tasty sandwiches: Fuck You, and Fuck Your Horse.

  148. Grifter says:

    Did someone say something about fucking horses?

  149. Chris R. says:

    M, mine either. However I did want to bestow violence upon something. Luckily my tablet survived.

  150. Allen says:

    I've often wondered about the etymolgy of the terminology associated with having sexual congress with one's horse.

  151. l.smith says:

    Since Corporations are now people, Mitt should pick Chik-fil-a to be his running mate for Vice President.

  152. M. says:

    As we Texas liberals are fond of quipping, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

  153. nlp says:

    I'm surprised that in this whole long conversation (or sets of conversations) that no one has mentioned the most famous (and far-reaching) boycott in America, namely the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The lawsuit that resulted from Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white man would eventually be won in the Supreme Court. But the action of refusing to ride the bus was something an individual could take part in. The boycott was hard on the people who took part. They had to find alternate ways of getting to their jobs or doing their errands. But the final goal was clear, as was their determination.

    This was an organized boycott, as opposed to the personal boycotts that have been the focus of conversation in this thread. But from that one boycott and legal changes (Brown vs Board of Ed) came the civil rights protests that eventually led to changes in laws affecting all of us.

    The individual boycotts that have been mentioned are limited in their impact. As some posters have pointed out, for every person who avoids CFA because of the owners' stance on marriage, there is doubtless someone who eats there because of that same stance.

    It comes down to how we choose to spend out money, and no matter who explains that boycotts are irrational, we still have the right to spend our money the way we want to. And other people have that same right.

  154. eddie says:

    for every person who avoids CFA because of the owners' stance on marriage, there is doubtless someone who eats there because of that same stance.

    That's far from doubtless. I think there's plenty of doubt on that point.

    Boycotters are fiercely devoted to their cause, because it reinforces their identity as someone who cares and someone who's doing good in the world with the added benefit that they don't actually have to do anything other than let everyone know what good people they are. Boycott-target-supporters ("buycotters") do exist, but they don't have a lot of sticking power beyond the initial burst of symbolic counter-protesting, mostly because they know there are far more effective ways to actually accomplish their goals.

    The anti-gay-marriage crowd aren't eating at Chick-Fil-A, they're eating at expensive restaurants with state legislators and lobbyists.

  155. bw1 says:

    "But why should my reaction be held to a higher standard than the speech I am reacting to? "

    Because you're smarter and more educated than the average bear? Nobless oblige, so to speak?

    Also, have you no urge to be the better man?

  156. Zeek says:

    I avoid Reddit at all costs. Until they get serious about maintaining some standards they are irredeemable. They even paid only the slightest lipservice to deleting child pornogaphy.

  157. GT says:

    Nicely put as usual, Ken… but some of us would 'boycott' Chick-Fil-A based on something even more precious that what someone says about teh gheys… namely, that it is reprehensible to raise sentient animals in inhumane conditions simply to hack them into chunks and eat them. (And when you add in the endocrine disruption from the added hormones, and the added antiboitics… and the fact that modern chicken has to be pumped with flavour-enhancers to taste of anything… well, you might as well eat tofu).

    And @bw1 – although you were being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, your point is a two-edged sword: maybe the 'better man' is not the man who reins in his every impulsive tendency. Maybe the better man is simply the man who perpetrates no aggressive violence… but when it comes to retaliation, the 'better man' brings asymmetric overwhelming retaliatory violence (violence up to and including symmetry represents the right of redress, and the rest is the victim's assessment of the proper punitive and deterrent content).

    By 'violence' of course I am only referring to speech/expression: far be it from me to advocate that people should take physical matters into their own hands, even given that the 'legal' system has shown itself to be singularly incapable of – and in fact not designed for – defence of individual's rights and redress of infringements of those rights. However I would note that private retaliatory violence is way cheaper, and 'purer', than trying to get the State to do your dirty work: plus, that whole 'Obama Doctrine' of killing anybody you don't like – and their families, and any bystanders – without due process sets the agenda, no?

  158. 2cents says:

    From reading everything, I have two issues with the Hines situation.

    1. Hines' reaction is to demand the removal of the offending discussion, not only to choose not to associate with the group. This seems to be where the cry of censorship is coming from. I think he has every right and it is admirable that he not to want to associate with such a conversation, but who is he to demand that no one else participates? Even if a good chunk of those people are horrible.

    2. He is demanding removal of an offensive discussion because of several reasons including that he feels it has "done more harm than good." Again, who does he think he is? To speak for the victims that could take away something useful from the thread? Or the men who have now had their eyes opened? It is his opinion that we (including me) need to be protected from seeing these things that may cause us harm, not that we can think for ourselves. Not that we can choose to click on the thread and read part or all or none of it. Basically, we don't know what's good for us or what we really want…which is the attitude that was (and continues to be) so dangerous in the first place.

    I think he is totally justified in choosing to distance himself from that community. "It makes me feel bad to do a thing, so I'm not going to do that thing" seems perfectly rational to me. But calling for the removal is where it goes into irrational territory. Removing that thread won't mean none of that ever happened. It won't make those people cease to exist.

  159. M. says:

    @GT: I thought you were talking about politicians for a sec, then remembered the 'sapient'.

  160. M. says:

    sentient, rather

  161. Sean says:

    Here are some ideas that are supported by a vast majority of the people involved in selling you the goods and services you consume every day: the Patriot act, the drug war, the actual wars, taxing young low-income workers to fund the retirement income of old people with high net worth, wage laws that freeze the unskilled into a condition of permanent unemployment, occupational licensing schemes, mandatory minimum sentences, "civil" asset forfeiture, etc.

    If you bought anything today, then you bought it from someone or something that contributes to politicians who support one (or quite possibly all) of these vile policies.

    So if a chicken sandwich sold to you by an opponent of gay marriage turns to ashes in your mouth, what do the rest of your meals taste like?

  162. Matt says:

    Most of our gay friends and relatives think this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. Only one is really fired up about it, but he is the sort that gets mad about everything. Was having a laugh with his husband this evening, who is in the doghouse because he refuses to quit Chick-Fil-A.

    And for the record I agree with Dan Cathy.

  163. mmrtnt says:

    More speech (Self-serving link to cartoon)

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