Monday, April 07, 2014

In Reply: Boycotters Are FASCISTS!!! (unless I agree with 'em...)

In reply to the following comment from ztitans1 at the post The absurdity of the Mozilla boycott -

"Free speech includes making political donations. So says the SCOTUS. He has a right to make a political donation without being a victim of a political witch hunt."

You had me...and then you lost me. He has the legal and societal right to speak (whether by voice or cash). He does NOT have the legal or societal right to be free from others responding with speech of their own...not even if some call that speech "a political witch hunt."

When one reaches a certain level of public attention and scrutiny, the things one does and says begins to matter. And when one becomes the face of a major company, taking a position on controversial issues--even if one did so in one's past, and does not deftly handle that controversial opinion in the present--is likely going to alienate a portion of that company's customer and employee base. It's not that such people CAN'T take a position on divisive issues, but that they are courting divisiveness among the general public when they do.

And sadly, once the division starts, it's hard to stop... One side will boycott because they disagree with what a CEO said or did, unless and until the company responds positively to their boycott. And the other side will boycott if the company does whatever it is the first side asks for. To paraphrase a line from a movie from my youth, "The only way to win is not to play."

That isn't to say that a CEO and company cannot decide the controversial words or deeds are worth the cost; I admire Dan Cathy at Chick-Fil-A for the way he runs his business--especially his commitment to being closed the sabbath, which I wish every company would do--even as I disagree with his / his company's stand on marriage equality, and therefore continue to refuse to spend money there. (Full disclosure: This isn't a big sacrifice for me; The closest Chick-Fil-A location is over 50 miles away. But my heart's in the right place.)

But to deny there is a cost, or to claim that those who choose not to do business with a company because they disagree with what the CEO--or the board of directors--says or does are against free speech, or worse, are FASCISTS!! is absolute nonsense. The thing about free speech is that everyone gets to speak freely, including the people who use theirs to disagree with what what you said using yours.

(And my wonder is this; Should Mozilla respond to the "pro-traditional marriage" boycott by sacking the board of directors who "caved" to the "pro-marriage equality" boycott, will these people also call that "FASCISM!!" and stand for those poor fired souls? I suspect not...)

Posted (in two parts) Sunday, April 6, 2014, 11:45 PM (or so) and a little bit later'n that.

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