By: H. C. Thurg | Our Voice Contributor
Various headlines in recent news alerts that pop-up on my smart phone have been telling me about an assortment of public figures who commit crimes and get no jail time. Sure they pay fines, do community service by allowing the state to leverage their fame for a public cause, and other, non-incarceration methods of restitution, but is it enough? Some people don’t think so. They decide to boycott the TV show, movie opening, or product line associated with the naughty little character from our flat-screen world. A fantasy world that distracts us all from the real one. Usually, as a result of the outrage from the former fans-turned-concerned citizens, these celebrated people end up tanking their careers. They tend to save themselves only by writing an exclusive, NY Times best selling novel.
What enormous power an organized group of like-minded individuals can wield when first they decide to take collective action! Boycotting works, folks, and it’s high time we start using it for something more impactful than simply spanking the rich for being bigots. Let’s face it… we all kinda knew many of them were in the first damned place.
In a nutshell, boycotting is the one punitive “ban” with which the public can serve a company or individual. Boycotting stems from a natural, albeit intractable, human behavior that can be used as a tool for good, so long as the citizens are free to speak and organize. To deny someone or some entity the ability to continue turning an ever-increasing profit for their backers or share-holders is to cut them off of their sole purpose in a capitalist economy.
Boycotts are a way for people to get their demands met through the leverage they have over the profitability of companies or extremely wealthy individuals. Under certain circumstances, it is quite difficult to distinguish between the two. Corporations ARE “Unnatural Persons” after all. The extremely wealthy, in turn, tend to respond to losing wealth, rather than being reasoned with or yelled at. Many people have given ‘a piece of their mind’ to companies via popular social media corporation’s wildly addicting, easy-to-use, thought-trap programs like ‘twit-er’ and ‘facetiousbook’.
From FOX [fake] NEWS anchors who fondle their co-workers to TV stars who allegedly fake their own hate-crimes, the public merely threatening to boycott their assets influences the decisions of executives and others who hold the purse strings. The amount of money these people have on hand seems to be directly related to how easily and quickly they get themselves out of trouble. In the bi-coastal world of entertainment and propaganda, perhaps a few hundred thousand angry ‘Tweets’ CAN make a difference. Not to worry, though, many complicated algorithms are on their way to prevent that from continuing.
But what about the BDS movement? Surely THAT has the backing of so many people, including many of the Jewish people around the world, who can differentiate between a brutal government and an Abrahamic religion. Yet, as the media often beats the drums of war in lock-step with our own government, they present to many of us only the arguments made by those in congress who are beholden to AIPAC, a DC firm that lobbies on behalf of the Israeli government.
These folks are conflating bigotry with an anti-war sentimentality. They are coupling an interest in peace between Palestine and Israel with a racist view towards the people of the Jewish Faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. If only the journalists, with whom the American people used to trust to keep our politicians in-check, would explain the truth, rather than attempt to seem ambiguous to it as they “present both sides.” Some things are debatable, but WAR is not one of those things. Killing one another is simply wrong. I do not recommend it.
In the past, boycotts have actually changed the future of our country for the better. For example, the Montgomery Improvement Association gathered people together to boycott the Montgomery, Alabama transit system’s segregation policies. Most people have read about Rosa Parks and her arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman while riding a bus home from work in the 50’s. As a result of her actions, and dozens of unsung heroes and activists actions before her, The Montgomery Improvement Association took their collective action. They took a huge chunk out of the transit system’s profits after they selected Martin Luther King Jr. as their President. In one of his first statements, Dr. King said the following:
“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we like the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”
The same could be said with regard to the wealth inequality, resource imbalance, and governmental power concentration in our Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Dr. King knew that eventually the poor would need to reconnect with one another and accept each other, regardless of skin tone or family history. He created the Poor People’s Campaign to address income inequality and was unfortunately assassinated soon after. His efforts were never forgotten, however, and continue to this day.
My point with all of this is a complaint of sorts. I am appalled at how easily most of us will jump on board with boycotting entertainment for the sake of correcting the language and criminality of extremely rich celebrities. What do we do when corporations dumps oil all over our landscape or takes advantage of resources they never owned in the first place?
Not one damned thing. Not collectively anyway. Many groups will show up to protest and encourage you to boycott someone like Nestle for instance. Nestle is notoriously known for their blatantly unethical use of community water sources without appropriate compensation to produce their vast array of beverages and packaged snacks. By now, they should be the least profitable multinational corporation, right?
Clearly it doesn’t phase them. All the letters sent in anger. All the phone calls to their (likely)off-shore call centers. None of it compares to the money they bring in by continuing to pay some fines here and there and sell that ill-got water to the rest of us.
IF you are the type of person who would like to end bad things big companies do and need change quickly, I suggest you always punch up and aim for the money. Educating your community and taking collective action IS what being a citizen of a free society is all about. If a group or company or even a municipality is doing the wrong thing or cheating the people, don’t be afraid to speak up. Just know that speaking up is never enough. You must take action together.