Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Reply: Don't Make the Perfect the Enemy of the Good. Every Little Bit Helps.

In reply to the following comment at the post, The Freedom Not To Participate | Popehat:

Demosthenes • Jul 28, 2012 @3:50 pm:

"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.

@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 at the very least, 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.

Posted Jul 28, 2012 @5:21 pm

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