Wednesday, August 08, 2012

This Little Prig Went to Market, This Little Prig Stayed Home

J. Bryan Lowder:

As a gay guy, I couldn’t care less what a bigoted poultry mogul thinks about me and my romantic life, and I don’t believe that the stakes of the “to eat or not to eat” question are all that high. Moreover, in an era in which gay visibility is no longer lacking, the political point of a “kiss-in” is lost on me—what do you want, a cheer of approval from the teenager working the drive-through window who very likely supports you anyway? And now it’s Starbucks Appreciation Day (excuse me, rebranded to: “National Marriage Equality Day”), and I’m supposed to drink burnt coffee and otherwise patronize businesses who do approve of me. When did fighting for civil rights get delegated to my debit card?

A few things up front: I think it’s fine to boycott Chick-fil-A or any other company if doing so makes you feel good. But given that the only probable result is a savvy PR calibration and miniscule impact on the bottom-line, let’s remember that boycotts rarely carry more than symbolic weight.

...As Alexandra Chasin explores in her book Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market, one of the more troubling trends of the 20th century was the recasting of political rights as economic freedom of choice—call it shopping as activism. Chasin points out that not only is this vision of social struggle lazy (not to mention exclusionary to poor people), but that it also “accepts the premise that the market can and should both shape and enact social policy, as well as the assumption that the market will lead toward increasingly moral social policy.”

It sure is refreshing to see an example of well-reasoned sanity for a change. Maybe this will convince some people to take a deep breath an—ERMAHGERD PAPA JOHN'S YR DEAD TO ME NOW.