On boycotts, again

I am, and have been for many years, boycotting Chick-fil-A.

Why? Well, you probably already know: the company and its ownership are far too mired in anti-LGBTQ bigotry for me to be willing to give them my money. Critically, I would like to give them my money, as their chicken is fucking delicious and I have two Chick-fil-A restaurants within easy dining distance. I am both capable of eating at Chick-fil-A and, were they to recant their bullshit, entirely willing to eat at Chick-fil-A. I miss their Goddamn sandwiches. That is, you see, what makes it a boycott. I’m also not eating at Jack In The Box. They don’t exist in my part of the country, so it’s not a boycott even if they gave all of their proceeds directly to Nazis. I don’t eat at Applebee’s despite their easy availability because by and large I think their food is garbage. That’s not a boycott either.

I am– and this is far from the first time I’ve said this here– not willing to call something a boycott unless I am deliberately withholding my money from a business or other organization, for political reasons, when in the absence of said political beliefs I would be both willing and able to spend my money with that business or organization. And before I wrote this post I actually sat down and spent some time looking into Tesla to see if I could afford one. The surprising answer: under certain circumstances, yes, so the fact that I will never willingly purchase a Tesla because Elon Musk is a shitstain actually takes precedence over the fact that they have that weird habit of catching on fire or running children over. I wouldn’t buy one if they were good cars. Which kinda makes me think I should rework my definition a bit, because there needs to be som room for “This thing sucks and I hate it, but even if it didn’t suck I wouldn’t buy it because politics.” It’s also kind of weird to talk about boycotting something like a car company, where I’ve had the same car since 2018 and have no intention of replacing it anytime soon. I’m not buying another Kia anytime soon either, and I drive one of those right now.

But anyway. That’s actually not the point.

I just today became aware of an app called Goods Unite Us, which purports to allow you to look up companies to find out where they direct their political contributions that you can … well, so that you can do whatever you want with that information, I suppose. And what triggered this post was me thinking about exactly how far the don’t want none won’t be none policy goes, and whether I should be applying it to corporations. That’s always been my policy regarding people; J.K. Rowling and Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card and insert whoever here have all made it very clear that they are boils on humanity’s collective asshole, so I don’t read their shit any longer. It’s entirely possible that any of the authors I do read torture puppies in their spare time; the deal is, I’m not gonna go looking, but if you make your jackassery clear in public, well, I’m going to respond accordingly.

But what about corporations? Is the line there the same? I mean, the single corporation that I spend the most money with is absolutely Amazon, and it’s not close, and I know Amazon is shady as fuck, beyond a shadow of a damn doubt. Has that altered my behavior? No. The second-highest, at least before I start looking at bills, is my local comic shop, and the owners run the place. I have abandoned a comic shop in the past when the owner turned out to be an asshole, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to turn out to be the case with these folks. Beyond that … Target, maybe? A restaurant of some sort? Verizon? Are we counting the bank that holds my mortgage? My local credit union?

And the thing is, capitalism (and America) being what they are, I know full and Goddamn well that if I look hard enough I’m going to find something shitty about just about everybody sooner or later, or at least “everybody” in the context of large companies or corporations. How much research do I owe it to myself/my ideals/whatever to do, and where’s the line on corporate malfeasance? Like, it’s interesting to me that I dropped Chick-fil-A when on balance Amazon is almost certainly more destructive than they are. But CFA’s evil is specific, and I can point to how what they do harms friends of mine. Amazon is shitty but I’m not sure I can point to a specific policy of theirs that has caused harm to someone I know. They treat their workers like shit and are viciously anti-union; I am myself a literal union member, but the one person I know who worked at Amazon actually liked the job.

There is also the minor detail that part of the reason I use Amazon for nearly everything nowadays is because Amazon has been so destructive and has made it so difficult for brick and mortar businesses to stay alive. I don’t go to a brick and mortar any longer unless I know I can find what I’m looking for there; the notion that I might hit three or four stores looking for something is just no longer a part of my experience.

I dunno. I’m mostly thinking out loud here, and I find it useful to occasionally step back and examine my decisions and thought processes on these things once in a while. What about you? Will you use that app? Under what circumstances?

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

6 thoughts on “On boycotts, again

  1. I think about not only where I am shopping but also the products I am buy. Services, too. I let my amazon prime subscription expire about a year ago, and it cut down on the impulse buys. I stopped buying stuff (mostly books) just because it was deeply discounted and would show up on my doorstep in a day or two. Giving up that temptation was a huge relief. Except for maybe two trips to Five Guys a year, I have long since given up fast food and chain restaurants, in part for health reasons and in part from learning about food and restaurant industries. Every week when I take out the trash — which is mostly a plastic bag of non recyclable packaging — I wonder whatever happened to the Reduce part of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I don’t have any faith in large corporations, so I buy small and local where I can, but sometimes it comes down to what works. Is the shampoo I use made by some horrible mega corporation? Yes. But it works and makes my hair happy, so I keep using it. I’ve cut way back on processed foods, but when that potato chip craving hits, whoever makes Ruffles gets some of my money. Ultimately, I try to tread as lightly as I can on this planet, but without driving myself crazy — just keeping in mind that every thing that I buy is going to be around for a long, long time.


  2. I don’t buy books from Amazon. Stopped years ago when the Hachette thing went down. At this point between my local indie store and bookshop.org, I have no problem getting the books I want.


  3. I try to stay away from Nestle and especially one of their brands, Ozarka. The CEO of Nestle does not believe clean safe drinking water is a basic human right. Ozarka takes so much water from a spring in East Texas that in dry months, there isn’t enough water for livestock downstream.

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