The Ethics of Voting With Your Wallet Re: Political/Religious/Etc. Values

I can be assholeishly superior about nearly any topic. Does that invalidate my argument? Maybe assholes deserve to be dismissed, but I don't think the idea of a white knight is singularly an asshole. For one, calling someone a "white knight" usually comes from someone trying to defend their own sexism. Secondly, compounding an asshole with feminist arguments and calling him a white knight shows that you have some bias against a feminist position in general. Call an asshole an asshole, and argue the merits of an argument on its own standing.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

I probably should have been more precise in my question.

However, in response to what you ask, I would say both. Perhaps it is my failure, but I cannot separate the abhorrent personal beliefs of a person from his or her economic endeavors. If I knew of someone who was an advocate of returning to the days when a husband could rape his wife with impunity, but that person never spent a dime supporting his beliefs by funding a group or cause that would repeal rape equity laws, I would be hard pressed to give that person even the time of day, much less part of my income so that he could have a business that flourishes.

As for whether or not that is a good idea, I believe that each individual has to make that determination for himself or herself.

If it's your failure, it's my failure too: I know Roman Polanski makes really good films, I just...I mean I really should watch Chinatown someday, but still, and then Whoopi Goldberg who I love said that thing on The View where she sounded like a 2012 Republican Candidate for Senate and yeah.

That though is along the lines of something OG said and I filthily skimmed: our experience of a product is very much subjective, especially if we're talking about things like movies and chicken sandwiches. If you can't separate that, there's no obligation to be a martyr and buy stuff you won't enjoy. I think there's another side to the question where the product will work perfectly fine, but you know the person profiting from it is a bigot, or even stronger, is going to turn around and use those profits to subsidize a cause you think is bigoted.

ccesarano wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
NSMike wrote:

And how often do these so-called "white knights" direct this kind of criticism at you?

Eh, he's got a point in there, and that's coming from someone who got the dating advice thread closed down for arguing with ccesarano about his attitudes towards feminism.

I'm going to be honest, I don't even remember how that argument went that closed that particular thread down. I just remember having a debate with Tanglebones on Twitter once that got him really flustered.

That said, when he got flustered I did take some time to sit and think about what I was saying since I don't want to get anyone that angry when talking with me. So it is very possible that a number of my viewpoints have changed since any of those conversations depending on what happened.

As for the specific white knights I'm talking about, none have leveled criticisms at me as far as I'm aware. I'm also a nobody and this is the first time I've really taken to speaking so vocally about these sorts of issues outside of my circle of friends. So who knows.

My issue is with that specific term, and the feeling behind it, when there's a thread, which you referenced, where woman Goodjers are talking about their very real, very recent, very frequent sexual harassment experience. Dismissing the large number of male goodjers who've responded helpfully in that thread under the umbrella of 'White knights' comes across as attempting to shut down discussion and isolate the woman goodjers even further. And now I'll bow out, before I derail the thread even further.

CheezePavilion wrote:
NSMike wrote:

And how often do these so-called "white knights" direct this kind of criticism at you?

Eh, he's got a point in there, and that's coming from someone who got the dating advice thread closed down for arguing with ccesarano about his attitudes towards feminism.

I'm going to be honest, I don't even remember how that argument went that closed that particular thread down. I just remember having a debate with Tanglebones on Twitter once that got him really flustered.

That said, when he got flustered I did take some time to sit and think about what I was saying since I don't want to get anyone that angry when talking with me. So it is very possible that a number of my viewpoints have changed since any of those conversations depending on what happened.

As for the specific white knights I'm talking about, none have leveled criticisms at me as far as I'm aware. I'm also a nobody and this is the first time I've really taken to speaking so vocally about these sorts of issues outside of my circle of friends. So who knows.

NSMike wrote:

I can be assholeishly superior about nearly any topic. Does that invalidate my argument? Maybe assholes deserve to be dismissed, but I don't think the idea of a white knight is singularly an asshole. For one, calling someone a "white knight" usually comes from someone trying to defend their own sexism. Secondly, compounding an asshole with feminist arguments and calling him a white knight shows that you have some bias against a feminist position in general. Call an asshole an asshole, and argue the merits of an argument on its own standing.

I hate to bring up this comparison again because it sounds like I'm a one-trick pony, but it's really the best way I can think to illustrate my feelings on the matter.

As a Christian, I technically do believe that the world would be a better place if everyone were a Christian.

Did that make you cringe to read? It made me cringe to write it, because what sort of assumptions do we have of the sort of person that would say such a thing? A negative one. I'm not going to go out and try and force people to my beliefs, but when I was walking down a board walk a couple years ago and heard some guy trying to preach about how homosexuality is immoral I want to get up in his face and give him a good yelling at. Why? Because while we agree on whether Jesus was the Son of God and resurrected, I do not agree with his interpretation of the Bible or a lot of his reasoning. If he were to say "The world would be a better place if everyone were Christian", I'd be forced to wonder just what that world is supposed to look like.

Maybe it's that I have trouble trusting other men in terms of this topic. I've repeatedly had women inform me of things that I never realized happened in the games industry, and I never question their sincerity. I can recognize them as a victim. But when a man claims to be a supporter, I feel like I need proof of their sincerity. Maybe that's a personal bias of mine, I don't know.

No matter what, though, we're still getting lost in whether "white knight" should be a term used insultingly or making assumptions of what sort of guy would use such a term. For me, the core of the matter is you can't just call people names like "bigot" and expect change.

If you're going to call me on anything, call me on the hypocrisy of using a term like "white knight" with disdain as the intent while I'm trying to preach against mere name calling.

Tanglebones wrote:

My issue is with that specific term, and the feeling behind it, when there's a thread, which you referenced, where woman Goodjers are talking about their very real, very recent, very frequent sexual harassment experience. Dismissing the large number of male goodjers who've responded helpfully in that thread under the umbrella of 'White knights' comes across as attempting to shut down discussion and isolate the woman goodjers even further. And now I'll bow out, before I derail the thread even further.

I would beg you not bow out, because you and NSMike have basically caused me to spend a good amount of my afternoon considering a number of things. This time tomorrow I could be deciding I will not be using the term "white knight" again.

As I stated above...

If you're going to call me on anything, call me on the hypocrisy of using a term like "white knight" with disdain as the intent while I'm trying to preach against mere name calling.

What I find particularly vexing about the "white knight" term, is that it assumes someone is not offended themselves, but rather by proxy, basically saying they don't really care. Seems entirely possible, or even likely in nearly all cases, to dislike Chik-Fil-A despite having no personal stakes in marriage equality, because they offend one's sense of justice and fairness, and concerns over the influence of money on modern American democracy, and not giving a sh*t what anyone else thinks.

Now I can't get the image out of my head of a White Knight impaling a Concern Troll on his lance.

ccesarano wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

My issue is with that specific term, and the feeling behind it, when there's a thread, which you referenced, where woman Goodjers are talking about their very real, very recent, very frequent sexual harassment experience. Dismissing the large number of male goodjers who've responded helpfully in that thread under the umbrella of 'White knights' comes across as attempting to shut down discussion and isolate the woman goodjers even further. And now I'll bow out, before I derail the thread even further.

I would beg you not bow out, because you and NSMike have basically caused me to spend a good amount of my afternoon considering a number of things. This time tomorrow I could be deciding I will not be using the term "white knight" again.

As I stated above...

If you're going to call me on anything, call me on the hypocrisy of using a term like "white knight" with disdain as the intent while I'm trying to preach against mere name calling.

Like I said, bowing out, since it's not germane to the topic of the thread, and I really dislike causing derails.

CheezePavilion wrote:

I disagree that it's not different from not buying a product because you heard something bad about it. Not buying a defective product is simply a case of not wasting your money.

And like I said: I agree with you that if stuff like commercials or CEO statements means you're turned off by the company to the point where you don't enjoy the product, you have no reason not to reject the product. Of course, really what happened there is the product was also rendered defective, just due to emotional as opposed to mechanical reasons.

I didn't say anything about the product being defective. I said that you might have heard something bad about it.

There are a ton of conscious and unconscious characteristics people weigh when they're deciding whether or not to buy a particular product. Having someone you know and trust say something bad (or good) about a product will likely have an outsized impact on your purchasing decision.

That's because we make most of our decisions (purchasing or otherwise) based on incomplete and imperfect information. Having a friend or family member express a strong opinion or tell a horror-story about a product means we are much less likely to buy said product. It doesn't mean it was defective. It simply means we made a decision not to buy it based on the information we had at the time and the information we trusted was negative.

CheezePavilion wrote:

That's the point: that door *does* swing both ways. The question is whether whatever harm comes from however many dollars are removed from the chain of commerce that leads to the funds of bigots, is there even *more* harm being done by letting that door swing.

Our economy is massive. The vast, vast, vast majority of purchasing decisions people make aren't tied to any sense of ethics. If some tiny percentage of people want to boycott or support a company based on a sense of ethics then let them. It's not going to cause harm to the economy (even if you could properly defined what you meant by "harm").

People have loads of choices on where and how they can spend their money. What might be extremely important to you might be meaningless or anathema to others. At the end of the day, ethics just becomes another set of product characteristics you consider before making a purchasing decision. As I said, it could be central to your decision or it could be something you don't even think about.

But boycotts aren't just about money. They're mainly about influencing how people think about a company or promoting an issue by riding on the coattails of a much larger and well-known brand. Saying you're against gays is ho-hum, but saying you're boycotting Disney because of their anti-family and anti-Christian policies is PR gold.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

And, interestingly enough, we have the opposite side of the story here where a customer decided to stop visiting a local coffee house because they support marriage equality:

HARLEM — As the U.S. Supreme Court hashes out the legality of gay marriage in Washington, D.C., another debate over the issue is bubbling up at The Chipped Cup, a hip new Hamilton Heights coffee shop.

After The Chipped Cup drew the gay-marriage symbol — a square with a pink equal sign — on the sandwich board outside its shop on Broadway between 148th and 149th streets, a patron accused the shop of "trying to cram their political agenda" down people's throats.

"You just lost two local customers with your political sandwich board," a person listed as Leesa Dahl wrote on the coffee shop's Facebook page. "We were so happy when you joined the neighborhood and were faithful, but alienating the majority of the population is a really irritating and dumb move. We will encourage others not to patronize your business."

And I think that's just fine, honestly. When people support an issue - either something I agree with or not - there is a certain nobility to it (by itself, anyway). You know you will be making enemies, you know you are taking a stand that some will not like, and you know there will be consequences. I have a level of respect for people who are willing to at least stick to their guns in the face of opposition*. But when you have people take such a stand and then whine their way around the repercussions, it's kind of despicable. You're either willing to stand up for what you believe, or you are not.

(*which is not to say that I respect people who decide to throw their opinions around just to have opposition, and make themselves feel like moral lone cowboys)

OG_slinger wrote:

It doesn't mean it was defective. It simply means we made a decision not to buy it based on the information we had at the time and the information we trusted was negative.

Sure, but that doesn't make a difference in this case. Whether you decide not to buy it based on negative information you know or someone else claims to know and who you trust, you're still not buying it because you believe it's a waste of money.

OG_slinger wrote:

Our economy is massive. The vast, vast, vast majority of purchasing decisions people make aren't tied to any sense of ethics. If some tiny percentage of people want to boycott or support a company based on a sense of ethics then let them. It's not going to cause harm to the economy (even if you could properly defined what you meant by "harm").

People have loads of choices on where and how they can spend their money. What might be extremely important to you might be meaningless or anathema to others. At the end of the day, ethics just becomes another set of product characteristics you consider before making a purchasing decision. As I said, it could be central to your decision or it could be something you don't even think about.

But boycotts aren't just about money. They're mainly about influencing how people think about a company or promoting an issue by riding on the coattails of a much larger and well-known brand. Saying you're against gays is ho-hum, but saying you're boycotting Disney because of their anti-family and anti-Christian policies is PR gold.

Okay, but that's a different argument from the one I think most people in the thread a putting forward: in that case the boycott isn't just about "I want to stop my dollars from going to fund bigoted people and/or action groups"; the boycott is symbolic and its effectiveness comes from PR value.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Whether you decide not to buy it based on negative information you know or someone else claims to know and who you trust, you're still not buying it because you believe it's a waste of money.

Decisions don't have to be--and very likely aren't--as black and white. I could buy one product instead of another because I simply think one is cooler than the other. That doesn't make the other product a "waste of money," it just means it had less value to me at that moment.

We have boatloads of choices as consumers. Sometimes all it takes is something, anything that will allow us to narrow our choices to something more reasonable.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Okay, but that's a different argument from the one I think most people in the thread a putting forward: in that case the boycott isn't just about "I want to stop my dollars from going to fund bigoted people and/or action groups"; the boycott is symbolic and its effectiveness comes from PR value.

Why can't it be both?

OG_slinger wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Whether you decide not to buy it based on negative information you know or someone else claims to know and who you trust, you're still not buying it because you believe it's a waste of money.

Decisions don't have to be--and very likely aren't--as black and white. I could buy one product instead of another because I simply think one is cooler than the other. That doesn't make the other product a "waste of money," it just means it had less value to me at that moment.

We have boatloads of choices as consumers. Sometimes all it takes is something, anything that will allow us to narrow our choices to something more reasonable.

Sure, that would be the most comprehensive turn of phrase: "does not have sufficient value to you to cross your buying threshold or even if it does is of less value to you than an alternative product" but it still doesn't change anything relevant.

OG_slinger wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Okay, but that's a different argument from the one I think most people in the thread a putting forward: in that case the boycott isn't just about "I want to stop my dollars from going to fund bigoted people and/or action groups"; the boycott is symbolic and its effectiveness comes from PR value.

Why can't it be both?

No reason: that's why I said "isn't just about"

Tanglebones wrote:

Like I said, bowing out, since it's not germane to the topic of the thread, and I really dislike causing derails.

Actually, yes, that is a good point.

I should probably bow out for the time being and think a bit more anyway before adding anything further to the discussion.

So I'm jumping back in here to put another spin on this argument. We've talked a lot about not supporting a company because of the owner's views, the company's business practices, or how they market their brands. However, I'm going to bet that most of us inadvertently support all kinds of nasty stuff from unfair labor practices to animal cruelty to war crimes with our purchases.

If you ever eat fast food, you're actively giving money to some of the worst animal abusers on the planet. I'm guilty of this, although I'm getting much better about not going to the Mickey D's just down from the house for a quick fix. Unless you're willing to shell out mega bucks on upscale brands, much of your clothing is going to be mass produced in the Third World. Much of our oil comes from places with horrible human rights abuses. As gamers, I'm sure many of you either own a Windows PC or Xbox. Well, Microsoft has a pretty bad track record for anti-trust behavior and unfair labor practices. From what I've heard, Apple is even worse, although there are conflicting reports about whether Apple is actually one of the biggest offenders of slave labor or not.

I'm probably double guilty since I work contracts for Microsoft and Amazon (along with a number of smaller companies). It's pretty hard not to in the Puget Sound area, so sometimes I bite my tongue and grin. But if I really wanted to put my money where my mouth is, I'd go start a sustainable organic farm somewhere and become self-sufficient.

TLDR - I think any modern American who isn't living off the grid in some commune has blood on their hands. But it sure feels good to stick it to those evil corporations for the latest cause on Facebook.

jdzappa wrote:

TLDR - I think any modern American who isn't living off the grid in some commune has blood on their hands. But it sure feels good to stick it to those evil corporations for the latest cause on Facebook.

This is a constant rebuttal, to which I can really only say that the logical end of this argument is "if you can't do everything, you shouldn't do anything," which I don't agree with.

Oh, jumping back real quick since I feel like this does deserve consideration.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

And, interestingly enough, we have the opposite side of the story here where a customer decided to stop visiting a local coffee house because they support marriage equality:

HARLEM — As the U.S. Supreme Court hashes out the legality of gay marriage in Washington, D.C., another debate over the issue is bubbling up at The Chipped Cup, a hip new Hamilton Heights coffee shop.

After The Chipped Cup drew the gay-marriage symbol — a square with a pink equal sign — on the sandwich board outside its shop on Broadway between 148th and 149th streets, a patron accused the shop of "trying to cram their political agenda" down people's throats.

"You just lost two local customers with your political sandwich board," a person listed as Leesa Dahl wrote on the coffee shop's Facebook page. "We were so happy when you joined the neighborhood and were faithful, but alienating the majority of the population is a really irritating and dumb move. We will encourage others not to patronize your business."

Just as I don't want Chick-Fil-A using their money to support a cause I disagree with, I don't want my coffee shop to be spouting a cause I do agree with just because my politics don't belong in my business. Or rather, their politics don't belong in their business.

Perhaps, however, I am looking at this the wrong way. I could, in fact, be encouraging a much more ignorant method of business, especially since business itself is politics. Then again, if I had it my way we wouldn't have lobbyists at all. I want companies to be fighting for my dollar with their product, not their personal beliefs.

Nonetheless, it does hurt me so to see customers respond in such a way. What would they think if they ran a coffee shop and wanted to put up crucifixes for Easter to express their faith, and then people said "Oh, you're a Christian? I'm going to tell all my friends not to come here".

jdzappa wrote:

So I'm jumping back in here to put another spin on this argument. We've talked a lot about not supporting a company because of the owner's views, the company's business practices, or how they market their brands. However, I'm going to bet that most of us inadvertently support all kinds of nasty stuff from unfair labor practices to animal cruelty to war crimes with our purchases.

...

TLDR - I think any modern American who isn't living off the grid in some commune has blood on their hands. But it sure feels good to stick it to those evil corporations for the latest cause on Facebook.

All the things you listed are steps in the creation of the product. (edit:) the meat quality or any other intrinsic, objective nature of Chik-fil-A's products has nothing to do with the homophobia of their owner. I think it's easy to distinguish between telling a business that you want a different kind of product, and telling a business you want different workers/shareholders/owners.

jdzappa wrote:

TLDR - I think any modern American who isn't living off the grid in some commune has blood on their hands. But it sure feels good to stick it to those evil corporations for the latest cause on Facebook.

I believe that is a completely unfair assessment. That assumes that you are certain that people are only clamoring when its the newest cause celebre.

I can assure you that I continually target companies and businesses who have a problem with gays, gay marriage, and gender identity issues. Likewise, I specifically spend my dollars at companies that embrace marriage equality, gay rights, fair treatment of workers, etc.

I am not alone in that endeavor.

ccesarano wrote:

Just as I don't want Chick-Fil-A using their money to support a cause I disagree with, I don't want my coffee shop to be spouting a cause I do agree with just because my politics don't belong in my business. Or rather, their politics don't belong in their business.

Perhaps, however, I am looking at this the wrong way. I could, in fact, be encouraging a much more ignorant method of business, especially since business itself is politics. Then again, if I had it my way we wouldn't have lobbyists at all. I want companies to be fighting for my dollar with their product, not their personal beliefs.

Nonetheless, it does hurt me so to see customers respond in such a way. What would they think if they ran a coffee shop and wanted to put up crucifixes for Easter to express their faith, and then people said "Oh, you're a Christian? I'm going to tell all my friends not to come here".

How do you separate out the politics from the business? Where I work has a very clear non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation and gender identity even though the State of Arizona is more than happy to allow gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals be terminated simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

Many companies have had no choice but to enter the political fray because not doing so gave an advantage to people who could hurt their business.

For instance, the first initiative on gay marriage in Arizona included a provision like that in Texas, that not only is gay marriage not allowed, but neither are civil unions and domestic partnerships, which would have effectively dissolved the domestic partnership ordinances that many municipalities had passed in Arizona. Many companies strongly advocated against this because their employees who were in domestic partnerships said they would have to consider moving to another location (the three state Universities were hit with notices by several top professors that they would seek positions in other states if the initiative passed). Thankfully, it failed. Sadly, however, a ban on gay marriage passed in the next election cycle.

Should those businesses have stayed out of the political discussion even if it meant a talent drain and a loss of good employees?

I'd argue that a business getting involved in fundamental human rights is far deeper than mere politics.

We're not talking about companies paying lobbyists to limit laws that govern the businesses. We're talking about *people* getting involved in initiatives to treat human beings like human beings.

And if a company or someone who represents a company is willing to repress other human beings then that should be punished in every way available legally.

@Phoenix - I was talking more generally rather than trying to call out any particular poster here.

@ Bloo - Im not saying it's hopeless and that you should just not bother. I've been trying to make certain changes myself to be more inline with my morals. I was only pointing out how incredibly difficult it is to be morally consistent in all your choices.

I was only pointing out how incredibly difficult it is to be morally consistent in all your choices.

It is, but you do your best, and it pays off when you get it right.

*nod nod* I was just thinking about something similar in a different context, but I think the long and the short of it is: a good person should do their best, even knowing that their knowledge and understanding is imperfect, even knowing that will cause them to make mistakes, and even knowing that within the bounds of what they *know* is right they won't always be able to act in the best way.

As long as people keep trying to act in the best way they know how, and as long as they keep working to learn how to do better and stay open to understanding and learning that things they have been doing are harmful, they're making the world a better place.

We're all imperfect, but we should still *aspire* to do the best we can.