By Douglas Moran
Misadventures in boycotting: In-N-Out Burger & Wil WheatonUploaded: Sep 1, 2018
These two recent instances of political boycotting are interesting supplements to an earlier blog.(foot#1)
The Chair of the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, called for a boycott of In-N-Out Burger because it donated to Republicans. It has become routine for various groups within the Democratic Party coalition, and the Democratic Party itself, to try to use boycotts to suppress other viewpoints. Consequently, this alone would have barely qualified as "news". However, the popularity of In-N-Out Burger produced immediate push-back from other Democrats. This was supplemented by In-N-Out Burger's statement that they made similar/more donations to groups aligned with the Democratic Party.
Trying to do damage control, Bauman claimed he meant the call for a boycott to be only a personal statement. Yeah, right. A person who is a designated primary press contact for an organization avoids making any personal statements to the press or public. Because disclaimers that something is only a personal statement are near-universally ignored, only extreme circumstances Bauman, as Democratic Chair, probably saw his boycott call as acceptable, if not expected of him, and simply failed to anticipate the magnitude of the blow-back.
While this incident says a lot about the ethics of the current Democratic Party, it also reveals much about the current Republican Party. The Republican response was to simply to express support for In-N-Out Burger. They had an opportunity to make a principled statement about how such calls for boycotts are tearing at our social and political fabric. Was it that they didn't recognize the principle? Or maybe it isn't something that they would want to stand up for?
Disclosure about my politics.(foot#2)
Wil Wheaton is an actor and political activist.(foot#3) He is attempting to pressure Twitter to permanent ban certain other accounts by organizing other celebrities to temporarily leave Twitter with the threat that it will be permanent if a deadline isn't met (the details are irrelevant here, but can be easily found with web search). Twitter was the only major social media site that hadn't caved in to the pressure.
Wheaton moved to a Twitter-like site, ^Mastodon.social^, joining a sub-group ("instance") there.
Simplified to the bare essentials: He blocked a user who had prank'ed him. That user claimed to be transgender and said that Wheaton not accepting messages from them made them feel threatened and that Wheaton was anti-transgender. On that basis, they organized a campaign against Wheaton. Mastodon decided that the easiest way to deal with the situation to ban Wheaton rather than deal with those abusing their platform.
The responses I have seen have regretted yet-another social media company unwilling to stand on principle, but couldn't help chortling over poetic justice, karma, being "^hoisted with his own petard^" (from Hamlet), ...
The focus of this blog series is pragmatism. Before you comment that I am endorsing principles over pragmatism (which I am), recognize that standing on principles is often very pragmatic. The social media companies--individually and as a group--have routinely caved in to campaigns of false accusations and complaints, and have failed to punish those abusing their platforms in this manner. Unsurprisingly, this has created a culture that fosters such campaigns, and also unsurprisingly, the campaigns have become more and more absurd and caving in to them has become more and more indefensible for the social media companies. Whether they want to think of themselves as such, the social media companies have allied themselves with a wide range of very unsavory groups. Although I don't expect readers who work for these company to comment, it would be interesting to know if those companies realize the problem, or if they see the current situation as largely aligning with their goals.
1. Blog cited in introduction:
^Enough with Boycotts & "We don't want your type around here"^, 2018-03-31.
Much of this long -- even for me -- blog is a higher level discussion of misusing boycotts as political weapons.However, the end, starting with section "Public boycotts of companies",discusses this type of boycott.
2. Disclosure for those who haven't read enough of my earlier blogs to infer my politics:
My differences with both the Democratic and Republican parties are so great that I cannot accept affiliating myself with either.Nor would I describe myself as falling into the category of "leaning" toward either.I am what is described as a "Negative Partisan"(not "anti-partisan" or "non-partisan"),that is, I find my decisions on voting to be based on "least worse".
In my writings, I tend to focus on the Democratic Party because it is the dominant party in this area and in California.I regard the Republican Party as the state's largest fringe party,one that makes little effort to be taken seriously outside its enclaves(similar to Berkeley for other fringe parties). Details in earlier blog: ^California Democrats seek to revive the Republican Party: Republicans expected to resist^, 2017-07-16.
I have thought about writing an article,tentatively titled "A Pox on both your Parties ...",but the rough outline indicates it would likely have more paragraphs than readers,plus it would be appropriate for this blog series.From talking to friends, I know that my approach to politics is very different from most people:I usually make my decision before reaching the candidate's "laundry list" of positions on issues.I start with questions such as "Is the candidate more interested in power or in governing?"and the intertwined "Is the candidate going to govern for the whole polity or just his supporters?". And the question "Does the candidate support the principles of a democratic, constitutional republic?" is sadly becoming a differentiator. See what I mean about it likely being painfully long?
3. ^Wil Wheaton: Actor^
He became famous as the character Wesley Crusher in the TV series ^Star Trek: The Next Generation^,and has appeared as a repeating character on ^The Big Bang Theory^as himself.
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
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