Perhaps you've heard of MoveOn.Org. Perhaps you've wondered from what the organization advocates that we, the United States of America, should "move on." Originally, it was formed to petition Congress to censure Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinksy lie and "move on" to other, bigger issues and the business of governing the country. Of course, the country has, for the most part, moved on from the perjury and impeachment of Bill Clinton, at least as an issue facing Congress. And MoveOn has moved on to more sinister, more totalitarian goals. Today, it seems, the organization is promoting that we Americans move on from common sense, from fairness, from personal liberty, from honor and respectability, from free expression, from open-mindedness, from the unhindered marketplace of ideas, from democracy.
Now MoveOn.Org wants to limit the free exchange of ideas. Now MoveOn.Org wants to silence any non-conformists to its irrational, unsubstantiated leftist agenda. Now MoveOn.Org wants to ensure a complete liberal bias and leftist monopoly of all media outlets. Now MoveOn.Org wants to start a boycott of any company that advertises on FoxNews.
For the most part, I have absolutely no problem with people voting with their dollars. I myself have ended relationships with companies whose actions I find morally reprehensible, most recently Bank of America for their decision to encourage a disregard for the laws of this country by providing illegal aliens with banking services. And I had zero problem telling Bank of America that I was outraged and I no longer wanted to do business with them.
But how effective are organized boycotts, really? Has this nation reached a critical mass when it comes to boycotts and "public outrage"? Every day there is another news story of some group expressing their blown-out-of-proportion "outrage" over minor issues, tiny jokes, slips of the tongue, or the free expression of ideas not completely in sync with their own. Outrage is a constant, perpetual. Everyone's pissed about something, and anything you do is going to piss somebody off.
Part of the growing problem of this unending blame assignment stems from a deeper logical fallacy that has infected the minds of not only of Americans, but of people across the world - it is an irrational belief that groups of people, organizations, are indirectly or directly liable or responsible for the actions and deeds of individuals. Secondly, there is a growing intolerance toward differences of opinion. Thirdly, there is an increasing disregard for logic and rationality, and a shrinking willingness to look at issues and facts with any sort of discerning, unbiased eye - which in turns translates to people opining solely emotionally, with no real concrete thought behind it. This of course leads to gross misrepresentations of opposing hypotheses and conclusions. For examples, the promoters of the theory that global warming is caused primarily by the activities of mankind have fallen into a blind, religious fervor - accepting no discussion or debate, and seeing anything less than a full "commitment," as that insane fascist RFK Jr worded it in a discussion with Glenn Beck, to their hypothesis as blasphemy. The first rule of blind faith - eliminate the doubt in others, or at least the ability of others to express doubt, for fear that their skepticism will awaken hesitancy in oneself.
When it comes to large companies, or large media outlets, some confuse individual trees with the forest. The opinions of one may not reflect the views of the whole. In fact, the whole may even just have some "free expression" policy within itself, allowing for internal inconsistency and freedom. A media outlet may only being interested in providing forums for a variety of ideas and opinions, to appeal to a variety of consumers at different points. Also, news providers often segment out, or compartmentalize, information based on interest, topic, or execution. For example, newspapers have local sections, national sections, sports sections, lifestyle sections, arts sections, and so on. And straightforward news reporting is most often splintered off from editorializing. The scumbags at the LA Times editorialize about freeing the traitor John Walker Lindh. Cable news networks, like Fox News, can in turn provide "opinion sections" in the form of pundit programs, like those of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. A perfectly acceptable and long-standing tradition. But because these editorialists express opinions during their editorial segments, or guests or anchors even QUESTION the opinions held by MoveOn, the morons at MoveOn.Org irrationally conclude that the Fox News Network completely fails to provide "fair and balanced" news programming.
What bothers me is not the right of MoveOn.Org and like-minded individuals to organize a boycott and participate in one, it is the twisted reasoning for their proposed boycott. The great offense Fox News committed? They fail to completely agree with MoveOn. They provide forums for dissenting or alternate opinions. I don't expect the members of MoveOn to want to watch O'Reilly any more than I should be expected to subscribe to that shit-rag the LA Times. I have no problem with MoveOn expressing disagreement with any of O'Reilly's opinions. What I find disturbing in the idea that, in the eyes of MoveOn, Fox News is committing a sort of mindcrime by even freely existing or exploring an issue or allowing free speech on their programs. To make the distinction clear, imagine a group of Christians boycotting a television show because they find a character to be an offensive representation of a Christian. Now imagine a group of Christians boycotting every advertiser to an entire network because that network is not completely devoted to Christianity and is not evangelically promoting the Christian faith every second of the day.
Now imagine what leftist groups like MoveOn would say about that Christian group if the latter were true. Or even the former.
MoveOn has even convinced Democratic Presidential candidates not to appear during Fox News sponsored debates. Which of course just makes these Democrats look petty and cowardly.
Some boycotts are effective because many businesses cowardly cave to the demands of extremists, for fear of losing customers and thus profits. But any intelligent business owner will tell you that you cannot appeal to everyone. The trouble is, businesses can make rash decisions, especially when not hearing the other side of an argument - they only listener to the boycotters, mistakenly thinking they're the only ones concerned about an issue. It becomes a win-lose situation in their minds - we can lose some customers by continuing to do what we are doing, or we can keep them all by not offending these few.
So how best to counter the waves of perpetual outrage? How best to make businesses realize they should not, or at least need not, kowtow to radicals? With a counter-boycott - either by supporting businesses that are being boycotted (and letting them know you are), or by in turn boycotting businesses that succumb to the extortion of extremists. When businesses are put in a lose-lose situation, they'll take the losing route they think will make them the most money. If put in a situation of losing customers either way, they will make choices based on their own agendas, or their own best interests. The trouble now is that businesses often fail to realize the amount of ill-will that can be generated by succumbing to boycotts. If the effects are equalized, then organized boycotting will eventually fall to the wayside. Businesses will then continue to advertise in places where they will reach more customers without having to worry about whether or not their advertising dollars will indirectly connected to some great offense in some radical's mind.