Comment sections on news, opinion and political sites contain the worst kind of vitriol, so I’m not going to post this on the Atlantic site. My Tumblr, like my FB wall, is my living room; guests can easily overstay their welcome, and I’d rather not invite hateful shit into my space. Reasoned discourse? Sure! I’ll have some pie and coffee waiting.
ANYWAY, this article. Overall, I have no real problem with it, except of course the idea that a boycott, no matter how small, is ultimately pointless. Which, nope, your opinion is wrong, Mr. Merritt.
He claims the money I would have spent at a business is “a drop in the bucket” for larger corporations, which is wholly true, no doubt, and that the boycott as a political device is ineffective and divisive, because:
For one thing, boycotts rarely cause actual pocketbook - rather than PR — damage. Most consumers don’t care enough to drive an extra mile to get the same product from someone else. And that’s especially the case for companies as large as Chick-fil-A, which has prime locations on many college campuses where there is little head-to-head competition.
He continues to posit that if the coin were flipped, and if Christian activists (“who are more numerous than gays and lesbians and their more activist supporters”) were to boycott, their efforts would be “met with more success when prosecuted by large groups of people.” LE SIGH.
Now, the “fight” against Chik-fil-A is no major civil rights battleground. Yes, folks, it’s a sandwich, and despite regional sensibilities and homegrown loyalties, is actually kind of shitty (all fast food being equal in my eyes; sorry). This is no Selma bus boycott, but last I checked, Mr. Merritt, those were started by a group far less numerous than those deemed their oppressors. And they (thankfully, valiantly, irrevocably) succeeded.
What troubles me about this article is not so much its premise that Chik-fil-A is a business which— at its core— does a lot of other good in spite of the current brou-haha over its LGBT-related politics, but that no boycott actually works. The sense I get from Mr. Merritt is the sense of someone fomenting not hate or something of its ilk, but actionable apathy.
This is America, damn it, and frankly, it’s my prerogative as a consumer to spend their money any way I damn please. And yes, boycotts may not always cause the monetary doom they often threaten to individual companies and corporations, but to advocate against them as a political device (much less: as a tool for highlighting one’s cause) is kind of sleepily diabolical. I say this only because, Mr. Merritt, it seems to me that the Christian advocates you so claim to be more numerous, thereby more effective, have actually failed spectacularly in their ability to garner attention, while those movements led by progressive groups have succeeded. One Million Moms v. JC Penney and Ellen? Egg in the face, pure and simple. LGBT groups—and Lady Gaga, for chrissakes—against Target? Changes in policy and a “vetting” process for political contributions (though the sincerity of this can be argued). Change! IT FUCKING HAPPENS.
I can intellectualize that yes, maybe my not spending $3 for a shitty chicken sandwich at Chik-fil-a will not institute widespread change, especially considering I’ve never eaten there anyway, knowing its Christian and right-aligned political beliefs. But it cannot be discounted that the $3 I would have spent won’t do a world of good for the communities I call home, for the businesses I would rather patronize, the owners I’ve befriended, the sandwiches and chicken and products I know came from honest, hard-working people who believe in those causes I believe in.
Yes, Chik-fil-a provides jobs etc. and helps develop its employees! But at what cost? Blind loyalty? I don’t know, nor do I claim to, but my $3 is infinitely better spent, and worth more than any vote I make every four years, because I spend everyday. Like every hot-blooded American, I earn my money, and I spend it, and that’s how I vote. I vote for the trust I have in local businesses and those businesses who do good and deserve their own Chik-fil-A level success, sans wrong-side-of-history opinions, because that’s what they are.
Then again, Mr. Merritt, I don’t deign to speak for everyone and how they vote or spend. Because every act can be someone’s level-headed political decision, not another hasty shot fired in the culture war, as you seem to argue.