To boycott or not to boycott?

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The Hyatt Boycott Controversy has raged for a bit now, with Chris Butcher saying yes here and Chris Williams saying no here.

Tom Spurgeon said the argument was spinach and to hell with it:

As tends to be the case with comics folk post-1990 or so pressed to make some kind of simple decision that doesn’t directly benefit them, the flailing about can be fairly awesome to behold. The issue as presented seems clear to me: whether or not to patronize a business when you learn the owner is supporting a stance on public policy that upsets people with whom you work and are thus asking you to consider another option. That seems like a clear decision to make with simple options in response: yes, no, I don’t care. Even better, which bar to drink in is maybe the lowest set of stakes for a decision possible in this world. Easy, right?


I strongly disagree with this in that comic book folks aren’t all that much more confused and confusing than any other random group of 100,000 people. A person is smart; people are stupid.

As for our own feelings on boycotts, we feel that any actual economic impact will doubtless be nil, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand to make yourself feel better about yourself, either. Is there?

As for us, we’ll be doing what we always do, hanging out outside the Hyatt being as obnoxious as possible.

Comments

  1. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Nothing wrong with doing something you think it’s right because you think it’s right, either.

    I didn’t understand what Mark Evanier was talking about when he seemed to be suggesting you do something because it will be effective or to make you feel better about yourself, but it was kind of depressing.

  2. Tom Spurgeon says:

    you think is right

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    “there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand to make yourself feel better about yourself, either.”

    And even better if you can wear a t-shirt advertising your stand. Which is why most of my comicbook t-shirts are either from CBLDF or AIDS Walk NY.

    How soon before people start tatooing icons on their bodies to advertise their opinions and beliefs? And how soon thereafter will someone sport a Red Cross Blood Donor tatoo?

  4. Get over this topic already. Im sure there are tons of company owners that have the same opinions as this one. Its well within his right have that belief. He shouldn’t be punished for what is a very common view.

  5. It’s not just a question of making yourself feel better about yourself, Heidi, it’s a question of whether or not you choose to participate financially in something you think is wrong. Factory farming is not going to collapse tomorrow because I am a vegetarian, but I’m still going to be a vegetarian and it has nothing to do with me patting myself on the back and everything to do with my personal view of the morality of meat-eating. Same with not shopping at Wal-Mart or, really, any personal ethical decision. This notion that we shouldn’t boycott things if it’s not going to instantly stop the practice we’re objecting to is a pretty phenomenal excuse never to hold yourself accountable for anything ever, as is the idea that if you do boycott something you’re just doing it for morally masturbatory reasons.

  6. The Beat says:

    Sean, I wasn’t putting down the effectiveness of some boycotts or the importance of taking a stand. There are several companies that I boycott for various reasons, but I doubt I’m having much actual impact other than knowing my dollars aren’t going to support practices I find odious. And yes, it is important to take a stand.

    Which is just what Doug Manchester did, BTW, so we’re all just making choices.

  7. “It’s a question of whether or not you choose to participate financially in something you think is wrong.”

    Actually… going to a bar or staying at a hotel is not a financial participation in the owners personal life. Instead it’s a participation in the bar or hotel.

    Imagine if we were responsible for all the hateful lifestyles that we very indirectly supported by our purchase of goods and services. Every time we fly, we would be responsible for the life choices of all those employed by the airline. Every time we purchase groceries, we’d be held responsible for the decisions of grocery store employees, the owners, and those who work for the brands we purchase (since minute fractions of our dollar would go to support each of these lifestyles).

    By the same token, our use of bars and hotels could be seen as a participation in alcoholism and cheating husbands, for it is our use of those establishments that contributes incrementally to the continued operation of places that enable impoverished lifestyles. We are, in this sense, participating financially in alcoholism and adultery.

    Of course, we don’t really operate like this. No one actually places onus for another’s activities on those who “participate financially” in a business such person runs. And the more one damages a business whose owner is a tastleless bastard, the more that owner’s employees will suffer. So really, it’s a question of weighing the working stiff who you’ll cause harm to for not being as quote-unquote enlightened as you vs. the owner who you’ll cause harm for not being the kind of human you’d prefer.

    And that’s where it comes down. It’s not a question of doing good but a question of whom you would prefer to harm (and how much harm you’ll be doing them, I suppose).

  8. Tom Spurgeon says:

    “So really, it’s a question of weighing the working stiff who you’ll cause harm to for not being as quote-unquote enlightened as you vs. the owner who you’ll cause harm for not being the kind of human you’d prefer.”

    Good lord.

    You know, the one thing about this mini-debate that didn’t need 10 seconds of discussion is that it’s made me feel less angry and confused about exploitation in comics.

  9. I live to serve, Tom ^_^

  10. “You know, the one thing about this mini-debate that didn’t need 10 seconds of discussion is that it’s made me feel less angry and confused about exploitation in comics.”

    How did that happen?

  11. Heidi, do you really not think personal ethical decisions have any intrinsic value beyond making you feel better about your own activities? That there’s no point to voting, donating a little cash to a charity, recycling, turning off the light when you leave a room, turning off the water while you brush your teeth, etc etc etc beyond patting yourself on the back for it? After all, none of these things on their own will “have an impact” on a grand scale–but that’s one more vote for the politicans or policies you support, a few more bucks for a cause that matters, a little less plastic or electricity or water wasted. Similarly, this is a little less money that ends up in the wallet of a homophobe, and it adds a little more opprobrium to people who espouse that particular cause.

    And the notion that “we’re all making choices” is pure moral relativism that you can’t possibly actually mean, right? Right?

    As for the Dane, i wouldn’t even know where to begin, other than by repeating that this is a fine way to absolve yourself of responsibility for anything you ever do.

  12. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I didn’t mean that in a good way.

  13. Boom! Studios has come up with a novel idea. Seems they had planned a get-together at the Hayatt for their 3-year anniversary, so here’s their answer to the controversy:
    http://blog.boom-studios.net/2008/07/sdcc08-boom-studios-2543/

    Kind of a fun idea! And brave, I think – there’s still a lot of anti-gay sentiment among comics fans.

  14. Tom, I know. I was just being cute. Unfortunately the internet can’t tell when I’m batting my lashes at you.

    Sean, I think it’s a fine way to absolve myself of responsibilities for which I bear no culpability. Not such a good way to absolve myself from responsibilities that are real though. I can’t use that argument, for instance, to free myself from doing my laundry, paying my bills, taking care of my family, loving people, et cetera. Plus, I do believe that there is a point to “donating a little cash to a charity, recycling, turning off the light when you leave a room, turning off the water while you brush your teeth”—a point beyond just feeling good about oneself. And my argument doesn’t touch those responsibilities either.

    My argument was wholly involved in the question of financial participation and whether it is just to indict those who stay at the Hyatt or order drinks from its bar as participants in the misanthropy of its owner.

  15. The Beat says:

    Sean — I actually just said the opposite, it is important to take a stand for what you believe in. By doing so you inspire others, and can perhaps effect a little more good in the world. And it makes you a strogner better person, yes.

    I’m not being a moral relativist when I point out that Manchester is doing the same thing that we are doing. It is a free country, thank God. There are layers of meaning here. Is it wrong for Manchester to give money to a cause he supports? Not really, sorry. Is it wrong for me to do that? No. Is it wrong to deny people their civil rights? Yes. Manchester’s actions ultimately support that, just as anyone’s decision not to drink at the Hyatt ultimately lowers the bottom line of (depending on who you ask) Doug Manchester, the Hyatt corp. or the staff of the Hyatt.

    I won’t eat at Carls Jr or Dominos or Dennys (any more) because of their corporate decisions, I refused to buy SPIN when it was published by Bob Guccione for various reasons, and I have lots of other little pet peeves that I observe. Right now I’m trying to find a way to blow up AT&T, and I’m sure I’ll have lots of support on that one. Will this boycott of the Hyatt have any honest real practical effect on making Doug Manchetser realize that gay people are people who deserve every protection of the law? I doubt it. Will it raise awareness — it already has. Any other effects are debatable, which is why this seems to go on and on.

  16. You needed a political reason to stop eating at Denny’s?

  17. Tom Spurgeon says:

    You’re making a distinction between Denny’s and Carls Jr/Dominos?

  18. I stopped eating at Carl’s Jr. when I found out they stopped selling the California Roast Beef, only the greatest sandwich ever made. I still get emotional thinking about it.

  19. I’ve never had Carl Jrs or Dominos. So yeah, I’m making a distinction.

  20. John Smith says:

    Sean, didn’t you vote for Bush?

  21. Yep, in 2004. It’s a long, sad story that hinged on one particular issue I was horribly wrong about–it wasn’t gay marriage, needless to say–and I will regret that decision until I die. Thanks for anonymously calling me out on it, though.

  22. Yep, in 2004. It’s a long, sad story that hinged on one particular issue I was horribly wrong about–it wasn’t gay marriage, needless to say–and I will regret that decision until I die. Thanks for anonymously calling me out on it, though.

  23. The Beat says:

    I hear that in California they will soon be allowing marriages between former Bush supporters.

  24. Stephen says:

    And yet still in all of this discussion I have yet to read that someone is actually going to do something PROACTIVE (rather than purely REACTIVE by boycotting a hotel) and actually CONTRIBUTE MONEY to Equality California or some other gay rights organization fighting to defeat Prop 8.

    Here’s an idea: take the $100 you had budgeted for overpriced drinks or that mint copy of AMAZING CRUSTYMAN #812 and donate it to Equality California.

    Or impress yourself and your friends by your self-righteous boycott of a hotel.

    Whatever, its not like denying equal rights to the Gays really impacts your daily life, does it?

  25. Stephen says:

    “Whatever, its not like denying equal rights to the Gays really impacts your daily life, does it?”

    Stephen–Depepnds on where you live.

  26. I stopped patronizing Carl’s Jr when they wouldn’t allow me to order a single of cheese from the drive-thru menu.

    I only had thirty cents in changes on me.

    ~

    Coat

  27. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I was going to list all my civic and charitable contributions in an attempt to impress Stephen the Message Board Guy, but then he started talking to himself and it impacted me with fear.

  28. Stephen says:

    ” but then he started talking to himself and it impacted me with fear. ”
    You may be surprised to know that there are many Stephens in the world. Not all of them talk to themselves.

  29. Stephen says:

    ” but then he started talking to himself and it impacted me with fear. ”
    Tom-You may be surprised to know that there are many Stephens in the world. Not all of them talk to themselves.

  30. Stephen says:

    …even if this double listing makes it seem like I’m talking to myself.

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