Boycott’s and Morality

I should state that there are times where the boycotting of a company is necessary. Sometimes the actions of a company are so heinous that one simply cannot purchase from them. Other times, the company is so entrenched in an immoral practice that to engage in commerce is to engage in the immoral act itself (think of the slave trade: if slaves are necessary to make the product, then buying the product makes the consumer part of the slave process). But these times are few and far between and require strength in numbers. One can think of William Wilberforce’s boycott of all slave-owned products; it required a sacrifice, a group of people, a movement, and open dialogue in the streets. The same is true of the Civil Rights movement boycott of segregating businesses. The current boycott against Chick Fil-A, however, doesn’t measure up; there’s no real sacrifice, there’s no real organization, and most importantly there’s no real dialogue.

Most should know my (Joel) view on homosexual marriage before proceeding in what I’m about to write. That said, I think the current boycott is nothing more than what could be called “moral grandstanding.” Moral grandstanding is simply a nice way of saying “hypocrisy.” It’s when people take a stand on an issue that isn’t incredibly controversial in their respective groups, make a tiny sacrifice, and feel they’re doing something. For instance, it’s not controversial to stand up against human trafficking, so boycotting brothels since most trafficked humans end up in them isn’t a huge sacrifice; one isn’t really make a moral stand so much as one is simply being a good human. Speaking up for homosexual rights isn’t really “brave” in the world since more and more people support it; but speaking against homosexual rights isn’t “brave” either considering the majority of Americans still stand against those rights.

Thus, boycotting a company that is against gay marriage isn’t really taking a moral stand, just as supporting them doesn’t make one moral either.

If we really want to get into detail on it, how come we haven’t seen an outcry against Hershey’s over their use of slave labor in the cocoa fields? Why don’t we see boycotts against Apple for the horrendous conditions in their factories over in China? Why aren’t there boycotts against OPEC where their leaders feelings on homosexuals is to kill them? The reason is sadly simple; because it doesn’t impact us.

We’re okay with “those Chiners” being slaves because, well, we don’t have any chance of ending up in that factory. We’re okay with an African child losing an education and being forced to work in a field all day long while receiving little to nothing in way of compensation because he’s not us, he’s not our child. And ultimately we don’t boycott OPEC because (1) the homosexuals they kill don’t live here and (2) that’d actually require a sacrifice beyond saying no to a chicken sandwich.

Ultimately, the reason the Chick Fil A fiasco has grown is because it deals with homosexual rights, an issue that directly impacts people in this country. These other issues, however, don’t impact people and so – to state it simply – they just don’t really care. Some might point to this and go, “Well yeah, that makes sense, we only place interests in what impacts us.” But that’s wrong, because a society that does that is not a society at all. The point of a society, the point of rights, the point of morality, the point of being human is to realize that the world is bigger than you, thus you must care about issues bigger than yourself. The reason people are up in arms about Chick Fil A and gay people getting married isn’t because they’re deeply moral people concerned about rights, it’s that they’re selfish and don’t care about others.

So people can parade around with their false moral indignation towards Chick Fil A, I couldn’t care less because I see it for what it is. It shows me that this country, as a culture, is an abysmal failure. We’ll throw a fit over this issue, but not over anything else because it doesn’t effect us; in other words, we don’t care about principle, we don’t really care about rights, we really only care about ourselves. A society like that won’t continue on, nor does it deserve to.

Some might say that standing up against human trafficking is an easy thing, that fighting for worker’s rights in other nations is relatively easy and non-controversial. Of course, they say these things because they’ve never tried it. They don’t realize how much of our economy is based on these illicit practices, nor do they realize that to stand up to actually stop these things would require one to go against almost the entire United States Congress as well as the majority of our corporations. They don’t realize any of this because they, in all actuality, don’t care. It’s far easier to simply not purchase a chicken sandwich and think you’re making a point than it is to work to bring to light anti-human practices in the majority of our economic practices.

We, as a society, look for the easiest way to do things. It’s within my generation and the generations that have followed. If something isn’t handed to us on a silver platter then we don’t want to work for us; work, which used to be a virtue, which used to be seen as something good in and of itself, is now a vice. Work is to be avoided. Not just a “hard days work,” but working for a better future, working for things that you may never enjoy, but your children will. We don’t want to work for things because life is short, so why waste life on something you may not get. The same is true for how we view causes; why work for something that doesn’t directly impact us? Why should I waste time for someone else?

So we shouldn’t think the boycott of Chick Fil A, or the counter-“buycott,” really mean anything. They don’t. All it means is that people are lazy and cheap when it comes to their morals. They only care about themselves, not about any real moral change or movement in this country.