James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Guest Response to "Why I Don't Shun Or Boycott"

Kitty Antonik Wakfer has responded to my post "Why I Don't Shun or Boycott.". This is posted with her consent:

I see this as an example more of how the author appears not to care with whom he associates in a business sense, though most likely James is selective re. who and to what degree he associates in non-business ($ exchanging) situations. However, the word "morality" is a very loaded word and unless specifically defined can be used to convey a wide variance of ideas.

If an individual determines - and this properly needs to be more than reading/hearing some rumor - that a business owner has acted in some way that is in opposition to the individual's fundamental values, then the individual is not consistent with those values if s/he continues to voluntarily interact at all with that business owner. If s/he has been on speaking terms w/ that business owner, then personal questioning is in order and logical persuasion to change if there is truly found to be opposing values. However, if the business owner continues in whatever practices are fundamentally objectionable to (some) others, then those who object are fundamentally consistent to shun him/her (hir). For those who object but continue association, they are hypocritical - and short-range thinkers, pragmatic.

In regard to this poorly constructed example, being open about one's ideas and practices are more of a protection then they are an impediment. With the Internet it allows an individual to make this known to a vast audience (and over time) enabling others to become and stay informed about hir. I wrote about this in some detail in "Anonymity - Hazard, Not Protection; Limitation, not Enhancement", over 6 years ago.

"Would you want to be shunned or boycotted because of how people perceived your personal life, your beliefs, or your business practices?"

There is no way that someone can arrange that "[l]ies are spread about [my] personal life and views, destroying [my] reputation." True, someone could publish something that is false, and some few people might actually believe it. And those who do (even after questioning me publicly), I have no value for them since they obviously are so easily persuaded to conclude something false or we are diametrically opposed on fundamental values, though this last would be apparent already. But "destroy my reputation"?? No way. And the same is true for anyone if s/he has been open about hir ideas and actions (to the degree that government enforcers will not make use of the information to do physical harm).

As for specific fairly recent events where I (and husband Paul Wakfer) have shunned businesses, the WikiLeaks situation resulted in 4. We canceled accounts with PayPal and Amazon and we put our VISA and MasterCard credit cards on emergency usage only. These are explained/discussed in "Libertarians Need less Strategy -- and more Principle!" and "Are Principles Unaffordable?"

We also ceased shopping at WalMart after formal announcement of it partnering with Dept of Homeland Security in the government program, "If You See Something, Say Something" - "checkout video screens...urging people to take an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation and our communities." http://walmartstores.com/pressroom/news/10493.aspx

Our actions alone will not make a noticeable ripple in the decisions of these companies. But if hundreds of thousands of USers (?some millions?) who disagree with the practices of these companies also withdrew their association (ceased doing business) and made it publicly clear why they were doing so, the effects on those companies would not be ones easily ignored by management.

For the vast majority of businesses with which I deal, I know very little of the owners and even when some few do espouse religious beliefs (I and Paul are atheists), as long as they do not proselytize they are not interfering with my time. As long as they continue to provide good service/products at prices that we think are a good trade of our $value, and do not act as the companies above have done, we will continue as customers. And I and Paul will choose new businesses for services/products in the same manner - which we did on an application offer by Discover Card, recently started to be used regularly.


  1. First of all, the people I would shun/avoid in social situations would be people who are just plain jerks: people who are rude to the waitress, etc. Their fundamental values, however, is their concern, not mine.

    As I said, I would shun or boycott a business that flagrantly violates my values (such as, the sign that says "Blacks Need Not Apply). But such instances are nearly non-existent.

    Regarding companies that "sold out" in the Wikileaks case. Boycotting them makes sense if you have independent means of survival. I do know, however, people who I value whose livelihoods absolutely depend on Paypal and Amazon, and full disclosure, my book is available only through Amazon and a subsidiary.

    This had gone on from time immemorial. The State throws up roadblocks. Companies adjust. The people adjust. The issues are too complex; for instance, you are writing on a Google-owned platform, but you may consider Google part of the problem. Dept. of Defense funding helped create the network that created the Internet.

    Everyone is inextricably intertwined in the System, one way or another. Some, more than others. Some, who want to dominate others (and they are the real enemy); some who are just getting any job they can get. Some work for companies that want special privileges, some work for companies that just want to be left alone.

    It is too much for one person to know or judge. That's why I prefer not to worry about it by not shunning and not boycotting.

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