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When do you go from not wanting to buy a product or patronize a service (pay to see a movie, hire a lawyer, etc.) to bothering to try to convince others to do the same as you, to engaging in or calling for a boycott, to trying to get a law passed or regulation implemented so on one else can do the thing you have decided you don’t want to do yourself?

A major, national ice cream company recently came up with a product that apparently has a name sufficiently profane or offensive to some that people here in the Twin Cities are calling for local stores to remove it from the shelves. I am annoyed at Go Daddy for spamming my site so I blogged about it. Ironically, that very post is now being spammed by Go Daddy! So, in case you were wondering if they were really doing it …. Rebecca Watson did not call for a boycott of Richard Dawkins’ books and stuff — she just mentioned that she would not per personally spending much money on the guy — but she was then accused of carrying out a vindictive boycott, indicating that the question is not always about what to buy/not buy or boycott/not boycott, but also, which trolls will bother with you if you make a particular decision in public.

My first wife’s family had experienced the Holocaust in a fairly direct way so there were a number of products that would not be found in that household, and when we got a VW there was some ‘splainin to do. Boycotts of entire countries are said to not usually work very well, but many people involved in South Africa at the time of that boycott claim that it made a difference. I still avoid Paul Simon because he ignored it and carried out cultural robbery there.

Just as interesting as the question of what you buy or not, or how far you go with “voting with the pocketbook” is the degree to which people will react to the decisions made by others in this regard.

What do you avoid, boycott, or otherwise lobby against with friends or even beyond? What do other people do along these lines that annoy you? Do you boycott people who boycott!?!!?? If so, Imma boycott you!!! (only kidding)

But seriously, what do you do or not do when it comes to voting with your wallet? Or feet?

Here’s a handy dandy scale for you to use:

  • I don’t want to buy this product.
  • I don’t want you to buy this product.
  • I want thugs to show up and harass you if you buy this product.
  • I want it to be illegal for anyone to buy this product.

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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35 thoughts on “BOYCOTT!!!!11!!

  1. Back in the 70’s I boycotted Gallo wine to help support the Farm Workers Union, and Coors beer in support of gay rights.

    Of course it was easy to boycott Gallo and Coors because their products were and still are crap. (Well OK, Gallo now makes some good wines, but so do lots of wineries)

  2. 1: McD – because both times I ate there, I swore that would be the last time. I hate lukewarm soggy burgers. Though I might not have stayed away if one of them was closer to places I frequent; I repeatedly tried a fast food joint just crossing a street way from my job, even though they managed to ruin pretty much every kind of food – I now suspect the workers where unhappy with management. But what do you do if everything else is closed? They even managed too ruin soups (open can, put into container, heat in microwave: don’t let out the last step!)

    3: Just say no to this variant.

    Otherwise, not really. I’m not a guy who carries grudges, and I suspect it takes a somewhat related mental framework for boycotts.

  3. In the week after the Tiananmen Square massacre, I phoned the Chinese Embassy and told them I would not purchase any products made in China because I was so horrified at what had happened. I then discovered how difficult it is to do a country boycott on purchases, because you often don’t know the country of origin of items (e.g. the parts a mechanic uses to fix your car). However, I didn’t mention to anyone else I was doing a boycott as I saw that as irrelevant.

    Here in NZ, there was a large boycott of Cadbury because of their use of palm oil in their chocolate. The boycott was so successful that Cadbury no longer use palm oil in chocolate on the NZ market – although I believe they still use it in products in other countries. So this is a recent example of a boycott that was successful in its objective.

  4. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I’d rather nobody did, but I haven’t really pushed that on anyone. It’s sort of a secondary boycott of China, as well.

  5. Yea, my personal boycott of Gallo went right up until a couple of years ago when, while poking around in the hill near San Jose, I learned that Gallo not only makes a wide range of wines, but also buys/sells/grows/stomps/whatever a lot of the grapes in a lot of other wines.

    Kiwi, what was the problem with using Palm Oil? Heath? Exploitation?

  6. Yeah, I remember the Paul Simon thing and the whole get your investments out of South Africa thing.I was a little bit young at the time to really have all that much political awareness about the whole thing. I remember deciding at the time that probably not that much money went to white corporate overlords and some black musicians got a good paying gig. It’s not like the studios in South Africa got a cut of the Graceland profits. was this just a the naive analysis of a clueless adolescent?

    But at any rate, I wouldn’t judge you as hateful just because you gave up on Paul Simon. Gave up on him myself a few years after Graceland in college when the guy in the next room went on a binge of playing “You Can Call Me Al” six to ten times a day. Hated Paul Simon for years until I came across some work he did with Willie Nelson.

    I don’t think Watson’s personal decision not to support Dawkins should be over the top. I wouldn’t really care if she actually had asked others not to support Dawkins. Even this would be hardly a bigger deal than her rather obvious and mundane comments about Elevator Guy. Still don’t get what all the reaction is about. In my reckless youth I did a couple things almost as stupid Elevatorguy. I was able to figure out these were bad moves because I have, like, empathy, and stuff. But even supposing I had persisted in my cluelesslessness, I would think a mild rebuke after the fashion of Watson’s comments would have been appropriate and informative. And Watson’s rebuke was mild, exactly as it should have been.

    BTW, I don’t read ERV anymore. I think the whole Abbie vs. Rebecca thing got started over Dawkins. I used to post a lot over there, but when I saw how things were beginning to go at ERV, I bailed and never went back. Funny thing is, I really think Abbie could have had a good chance at changing Rebecca’s mind if she hadn’t let ERV turn into a hate fest. I still wonder what Abbie thinks she’s doing.

    I really wish Elevator Guy would step forward and say something like this:

    Hello, I am the Elevator Guy, star player in the the greatest internet controversy that should have been a non-controversy. It should be obvious that it’s a bit embarrassing to come forward publicly about this, but the actions of my so-called defenders leave me no choice. Everybody, calm down. I fully understand that what I did in those wee hours of the morning were pretty clueless, even bordering on creepy. Elevators are probably never the best place for this sort of thing, and given the whole context of what went on that night, I really should have known better. You would think that Rebecca’s comments would have been noted, largely agreed with, and I must add here that I agree with them myself, and then we’d all just move along. But it didn’t work out like that. I saw a flood of misogyny and vitriol unleashed on my behalf. I do not appreciate it, but you have taught me how much I don’t want to be anything like you. So please STFU.

    That’s what I think Elevatorguy should say in a near perfect world. Somehow I don’t think even this would put a stop to all this nonsense.

  7. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart for the most part. I think I bought something there a couple of years ago because it was the only store in the area at the time I really needed something.

    But, true story, I was buying supplies for a DFL fundraiser and we were discussing what we should pick up for refreshments. For just about everything we suggested, there was some sort of boycott because of something or other; Coke, Pepsi, Ritz Crackers, you get the picture. If we had all honored all the boycotts mentioned we would have been serving tap-water.

    It was kind of funny, so we decided to just get stuff that we liked, but not at Wal-Mart.

  8. I refuse to purchase anything from Chik-Fil-A (not that I eat much fast food; I think I’ve done so maybe 4 times this year) or Cracker Barrel, nor will I buy any “Rockstar” energy drinks. Those companies are extremely anti-gay, so I’m going to support those companies that are pro gay OR indifferent.

  9. I refuse to buy anything I can identify as a Koch Industries product. And I encourage to do the same if it flows naturally as part of the conversation. But I don’t go out of my way to make the point.

  10. Anti-Walmart and anti-ChikfilA here as well. I’ve been anti-Walmart since high school, when they were snipping the naughty words and scenes out of cassettes and video tapes and then reshrinkwrapping them without labeling them as censored.

    I won’t shop there now because they systematically discriminate against women, FT employees, and the poor, and drive vendors into bankruptcy.

    Plus on the rare occasions my husband manages to drag me in there for a single item which he deems an emergency, my footsteps burst into flames behind me, and it’s starting to piss off the managers.

  11. Rebecca Watson did not call for a boycott of Richard Dawkins’ books and stuff

    So this is becoming like a Big Lie? If repeated often enough, it becomes true? Awesome. Bet you keep a straight face too.

  12. Squirmy, Im not disagreeing with you, but a link to the actual call for a boycott would have made your case infinitely stronger. Since you didn’t, Ill assume you’re making it up.

  13. squirmy, she did not. But, that she did has been often repeated, and you just did it again. Do you know what thin ice looks like? I ask, because you are standing on it. Be careful.

  14. “So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don’t think my reading list will suffer.

    Despite the fact that I’ve seen hundreds of comments from those of you who plan to do the same, I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days. But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers.”

    A very popular, prominent voice of skepticism says the above, but does not say, “I am calling for a boycott!” and therefore the above cannot in any way be thought of as calling for a boycott. Anyone suggesting the above quote is indeed a passive-aggressive call for a boycott is threatened with banning. What a thoroughly honest and open bit of dialogue we have here.

  15. And, when the “boycott” term was mentioned earlier by others, she clarified.

    And, on top of that, she was accused of calling for a boycott as though that was a bad thing. She could, you know. Maybe she even should! But she didn’t.

    She could have, she didn’t, she was accuse of as though such a thing would make her a horrible person.

    And all this means the following: ERV-symps don’t want you to stand up for your beliefs, if those beliefs are something they don’t happen to accept. They will harass you, stalk you, threaten you, and generally make utter fools of themselves when you do say the things that are important for you to say that they don’t happen to agree with.

    Kind of reminds me of a two year old on a bad day.

  16. “ERV-symps don’t want you to stand up for your beliefs, if those beliefs are something they don’t happen to accept.”

    C’mon. that’s just ridiculous. Being critical of the decisions other people make is not the same as saying you shouldn’t stand up for your beliefs. We all have beliefs that others think are dumb or wrong-headed. And we all criticize. Don’t make it worse than it is.

  17. OR, maybe not. In response your comment or my comment supporting your comment we have:

    mk, you certainly ran rings around Laden. His points are vacuous; almost the equivalent of “X asked that Y should be killed with premeditated malice, but X never asked that Y be murdered”. How ridiculous. And it isn’t just us that got the impression that Watson was asking for a boycott – from lygypsy on the Dawkins Delusion thread:

    That was “spence” and spence cites as evidence for her claim someone else who also got it wrong.

    Then, Spence notices that I made a comment (supporting your comment, MK) and that sent her into this tirade:

    Oh wow, I missed Laden’s comment. Laden, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, even if you don’t put a little label on it that says “this is a duck”.
    Watson clearly said that others were going to stop buying Dawkins books and she would do likewise; I would personally describe this as supporting an existing boycott (assuming Watson’s words are accurate; I have no reason to doubt them at this time) which is not different in any meaningful sense to a call to boycott. She may have rapidly backpedalled subsequently but her original words are there in black and white. And they meet the dictionary definition of a boycott.

    Then, continuing on with the rant against me (because it’s me, not for any other reason) we have “Yet Another Justicar” with this comment:

    I guess the education standards at Harvard, at least in anthropology, aren’t what they could be if a vacuous intellect like Laden made it through.
    Wait, I take it back! He’s actually a brilliant anthropologist, living among his study subjects as he does, he’s been fully acculturated by those white trash trailer dwellers he’s burdened with sharing a park! I get it now! It’s like intellectual osmosis, and we know that the gas (like the high pressure environment of the air in his head) tends to go from a place of concentration to a place of lesser concentration. Alas, those trailer people inadvertently sucked it right out of him.
    The poor dear – he never saw it coming.
    Now, I would just like to say that I am not calling for a boycott of Watson, but I will not be buying her books (to include her previous best sellers and any future such books) for her ill-treatment of women, and the retardation of Enlightenment values. Also, I won’t attend of her lectures. But it’s totally not a boycott.
    (in this case, it isn’t because of the status of her books, best-selling ones included, and nothing she’s done in public constitutes a lecture. Note, talking about being drunk and laughing about douching do not a lecture make.)
    This message was approved by the committee to hire Jane Caro as speaker at some American atheist something another.

    I’m not making it worse than it is. It just is worse than it is!

    No matter. I made another brief comment over there that should clear it all up.

  18. For me, is pure evil. SCO levels of evil. I might use a few of the reviews to decide on a book to purchase somewhere else, but no way, no how will I ever spend any money for a kindle or anything else from

    Now, I won’t bring it up unless the conversation moves over to the topic, but it will turn into a long rant if I get started.

    Anything Apple is simply overpriced crap that I don’t need. The last Apple product I bought was a used Apple IIe in 1987. It still works, and it was built with a completely different philosophy than the current “No user-serviceable parts inside, that’s why there are no screws” attitude that governs the company now.

  19. Watson did not explicitly call for others to boycott Dawkins.

    Watson did explicitly state that she was going to boycott Dawkins.

    And in many people’s opinions, that was an implicit call for a general boycott.

    Watson’s denial means very little. And liar can make any claim they wish.

    As for why Watson gets a free pass on the evidence versus anecdote train is and has been a mystery to me for a long time. So-called skeptics like Laden, Myers, even Novella have stated publically that Watson does not need to present any evidence for her claims; she is sacrosanct.

    Given Watson’s influence in the so-called skeptical / atheist / feminist community, the popularity of her blog, her own personal popularity, and the public evangelical support and endorsement she receives from such popular and influential individuals as Laden, PZ Myers, Phil Plait, S. Novella, and many others, to suggest that Watson’s statement to personally boycott Dawkins, couched as it was within a series of strongly evangelical anti-Dawkins posts, was anything other than an implicit call for a general public boycott of Dawkins is either blatant deceit, or the blindness born of a True Believer who is willfully persisting in avoiding critical thinking.

    Intentionally and willfully ignoring Watson’s influence, the context of her personal boycott, and the general timbre of the Skepchick blog, the Elevatorgate mess, and so forth, and to deny absolutely the probability of her statement acting as an implicit call for a public boycott is the worst kind of ideological blindess and intellectual dishonesty.

  20. Watson did explicitly state that she was going to boycott Dawkins.

    And in many people’s opinions, that was an implicit call for a general boycott.

    Wrong and wrong.

    Watson’s denial means very little. And liar can make any claim they wish.

    Her denial that she didn’t do something she didn’t do means a great deal. And yes, once you start lying, as you just did, you may feel that you can claim what you wish.

    John, you are one sick puppy. I recommend you seek help. I just hope you don’t hurt someone before you do that.

  21. Even if Rebecca had made the whole elevator thing up, it wouldn’t matter. *Nothing* justifies the horrendous misogyny hurled at her. No-one deserves that, not even Ann Coulter or Michele Bachman.

    I personally boycott McDonalds, as a kind of symbolic resistance to US cultural imperialism or something.

  22. Watson does not need to provide evidence that she was unhappy with Richard Dawkins: her own words and actions were sufficient. If she said something that was more than her personal opinion on this matter, then sure, we’d expect evidence.

    She has said that she’ll personally refrain from purchasing Dawkins’ books in the future. I think she has that right. Are you going to force her to read them or something? I do not read Deepak Chopra’s books, or Glenn Beck’s, and I’d happily go forth and declare my rejection; that’s different from organizing a boycott.

    All we get from the ERVistas is silly, strained arguments that she was making an implicit call for a boycott. If that’s what she’d intended, I guarantee you that Rebecca Watson would not be shy or vague — that’s just not her personality. You would have unambiguous declarative statements to cite.

    You don’t have any, do you?

    I second Greg’s suggestion that you get help. Pass it along to all of your fellow freakish obsessives, why don’t you?

  23. I’m not going to Dairy Queen. Therefore, I have just told you that you don’t get to go to Dairy Queen. Sorry. I hope your heart wasn’t set on it.

    Asparagus is better for you, anyway.

  24. Francisco Bacopa says:

    I really wish Elevator Guy would step forward and say something like this:

    Hello, I am the Elevator Guy, star player in the the greatest internet controversy that should have been a non-controversy.

    That is unlikely to happen. He is forever the potential rapist, the creepy weirdo, the night stalker, etc. Mud sticks, so he will lay low.

    As for boycotts, everybody has a right to call for one if they want. It is a non-issue.

  25. I boycott internet drama… Holy crap do I have better things to do with my time, and I’d rather spend my (relatively) precious time and energy on my kids, family and hobbies. The kind of stupid blow ups just make me quit reading the sites involved, although I’m not sure you could shake me out of FTB yet, too much interesting and challenging food for thought (even on the topic of internet drama).

    In terms of physical items, I think we used to boycott (Royal Dutch) Shell back in the day (due to dealings with South Africa during Apartheid), and currently we run a half assed boycott on Chinese foodstuffs, mainly due to product safety concerns. Otherwise I boycott all software with intrusive DRM unless it’s absolutely necessary for our business.

    Of the four points listed in the original post I personally could never get agitated enough to reach points 3 and 4, and as with speech I think point 4 is going overboard for anything but obviously bat-crazy shit that should never be in anyone’s hands (fissionables/seriously dangerous biologicals etc.). I suspect I’m more lenient on point 4 than most, but that has more to do with what I perceive to be the current governments’, that I live under (other than perhaps Norway), complete inability to craft reasonable and functional legislation, and law enforcement being generally unable to follow the law in any case.

  26. “Francisco Bacopa says:
    I really wish Elevator Guy would step forward and say something like this:
    Hello, I am the Elevator Guy, star player in the the greatest internet controversy that should have been a non-controversy.”

    The elevator Guy did not ask Rebecca Watson for sex. Anyone with ANY intelligence or common sense can easily see that. And yea if you disagree with that you are stupid. EG made a mistake in asking a woman to his room but that is merely a faux pas. Can we finally start with an intelligent conversation on this manner?

    He asked a woman to his room, and that can be scary. But this is not about a man propositioning a woman for sex. No it is not, and you are an idiot if you think so.

  27. EG made a mistake in asking a woman to his room but that is merely a faux pas. Can we finally start with an intelligent conversation on this manner?

    And just so we are clear, that is what Rebecca said, and no one has claimed differently.

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