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November 4th, 2009


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12:33 pm
It seems like I post stuff like this all the time, but I'm going to post it again.

A friend of mine just posted something about Stephanie Meyer (the author of the horrendous "Twilight" series) being a Mormon. Part of being a Mormon is apparently giving a portion of your income to the church. The Mormon Church was recently involved in the support of Prop 8 -- a law to prevent same-sex marriage. He posted that people ought to boycott "Twilight" because of this.

This is something that has always made me uneasy. It's particularly difficult for me to defend "Twilight" of all things, but in this case, I find myself defending it.

In our society, we work to earn capital. Capital is then spent on the necessities of life and luxuries. A direct result of work is the ability to feed one's self. By boycotting something, you are attempting to stop the flow of capital to a person or group of people who perform that service. This necessarily means that you are attempting to stop them from being able to care for the necessities of life and their ability to afford luxuries. If very successful, that person could be in a situation where they are unable to feed themselves.

Do you believe that someone should starve for their convictions?

Wrong or right doesn't even play into that. If they perform a great harm, this does not give you license to harm them. Two wrongs do not make a right because their wrong does not make you more right. You are actively seeking to harm someone because you disagree with them.

Most people in America enjoy and defend -- to some extent -- the right of free speech. This action specifically seeks to restrict that right by limiting the amount of money someone can make. Moreover, it does so on the arbitrary basis of one person's opinion. By doing so, you are saying that one can have free speech as long as they agree with you.

That's not the way a democracy works. Even the way our democracy works is flawed -- we treat it in our electoral system as a mobocracy. The biggest mob gets their beliefs enforced.

Possibly the most repellent use of this was after George W. Bush's second election in which I recall Condolezza Rice saying that the win presented a mandate because more people had voted for W than any other president at any other time. It also happens to be that more people voted against him than any other president -- he won 50.7% of the vote.

A margin of victory like that should not give one the impression that their beliefs are correct and ought to be enforced. It should be troubling. By having that impression, you are saying that the 49.3% who disagree ought to have your beliefs enforced upon them. It doesn't mean that their objections are not valid. It certainly does not mean that they shouldn't be considered. It does make their vote invalid because they did not vote with the whole.

If you believe in something controversial, it is your duty to understand why it is controversial and accept that for the greater good (which is not necessarily the good of the majority), you ought to concede some things.

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:anarchodandyist
Date:November 4th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
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See, I think we should all boycott Twilight because it's the most poorly-written, insipid, painfully shitty excuse for literature I have ever encountered. Isn't that reason enough?
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 4th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
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Like I said, it's really hard for me to defend it. It's like the people who claimed that Battlefield: Earth had subliminal Scientologist brainwashing in it. You know that subliminal messages don't work, but do you really want to defend *that* film?
[User Picture]
From:chibalerasui
Date:November 5th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
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Yeah, it's the reasoning -behind- the boycott that matters, really. Doing it cause it sucks is one thing... doing it cause they indirectly support something you don't believe in is another entirely.

Personally, I've been boycotting Twilight cause VAMPIRES DON'T SPARKLE. >[
[User Picture]
From:aatheus
Date:November 4th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
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Redacted my post earlier, advocating bootlegging of Twilight stuff. I don't wish Stephanie Meyer to come to harm for her beliefs. She doesn't (presumably) have any say in how the church invests her tithes. My actual complaint was the way in which the legislation of morality was being financed by the tax-exempt organization. It is their right to do so, but the fallout of that decision affects people that I care for.

I agree with the comment posted above mine. I will instead be boycotting Twilight for its terrible writing.
[User Picture]
From:saraphina_marie
Date:November 5th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
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But it is not my responsibility to purchase anything in order to make someone else's life better.
I don't like the books for everything that they espouse, and also because they are poorly written. The fact that she is Mormon and tithes to the Church which stands for a lot of things that I oppose does come into my decision-making concerning purchasing any of her books, the two first reasons notwithstanding.
But that is the reason I don't buy Orson Scott Card books anymore- his views as well as his using his fame to spread these views with which I do not agree.
So I don't help him with that. And I am pretty open about that and do tell people with similar views to my own that they might want to consider similar action.
And really, if they are worried about feeding and caring for themselves, they can do any number of jobs that does not require ME to fund them.
If I have a say in where my money is going, it will not go to people who practice things tat I abhor- this includes shopping at WalMart among other things.
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 5th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
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If I have a say in where my money is going, it will not go to people who practice things that I abhor

Ok -- let me approach this from a different angle. Let's say that you have a say in where everyone's money goes. How much of it will go to people who believe things that you disagree with?

Would a racist neo-Nazi who makes an excellent machinist make as much as someone who isn't?

Assuming that you'd say that they oughtn't, then you are creating a "glass ceiling" for them based not on merit, but on beliefs.

I don't like the books for everything that they espouse, and also because they are poorly written.

I can accept that because it is not a statement based on her beliefs. It is a statement of the work she does.

But that is the reason I don't buy Orson Scott Card books anymore- his views as well as his using his fame to spread these views with which I do not agree.

I do not accept this because you are saying that no matter how interesting, thought compelling, entertaining, or otherwise virtuous a work that Card might turn out, you will not buy it because you disagree with his beliefs. You are attempting to arbitrarily adjust how much he makes because you disagree with him.

Note: the reverse of this doesn't ask you to go out and buy Card's books. It asks you to buy the things you like, irrespective of what someone else -- including the author -- says. I probably won't ever purchase a Stephanie Meyer book because I can't imagine taking the time to look at a book of hers because I dislike her product.

I'm not a fan of Mormonism, but I still read Schlock Mercenary. If nothing else, I believe it's wrong of me to deny myself that pleasure no matter how much I disagree with Howard Tayler's beliefs.
[User Picture]
From:saraphina_marie
Date:November 5th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
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I do not pretend to decide where EVERYONE's money goes, only my own. And I would rather not support a racist homophobe, no matter how much I might like his books. It is my right to make that decision.
And if that causes him to lose income, then he can just go take a second job at Starbucks like normal people do.
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 5th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
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And if that causes [a racist homophobe] to lose income, then he can just go take a second job at Starbucks like normal people do.

Michael Caine once remarked that money is freedom as a justification for having been in some very poorly written movies. In the case of Card, you are attempting to limit his freedom solely because you don't agree with what he thinks.

And that seems just to you?
[User Picture]
From:saraphina_marie
Date:November 5th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
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Explain to me HOW I am limiting Card's freedom?
He does not have the right to be an author, just as I am not obligated to buy his books.
He can go work at 7-11 or be an accountant or any number of things that has nothing to do with me and make a very tidy living indeed. I cannot and will not tell an employer how much to pay him or whether or not to hire him.
But when I make a purchase, I am telling that business that I believe in them and in what they do, I am basically voting with my money.
It is my money. There are a lot of things I cannot control- like how my social security money is spent for example. I am sure that pays for a lot of homophobic and racists and sexist assholes out there. I can't change that, nor would I want to as other people receive those same benefits too.
But in my own day to day spending, I can choose where I put that money. I can choose to support local business who pay their workers a good wage rather than a big national chain that exploits its people.
And I can decide whether or not I want to bankroll an author who actively tries to cut down the civil rights of people just like me and would honestly like it if people like me didn't even read his books.
But that is beside the point. I can choose to spend my money however I like and for whatever reason I like. And if someone wants me to spend my money on them, then they had best give me a compelling reason. Card hasn't done that.
And if that means he has to flip burgers at Mickey D's, so be it.
I am sure there are people who don't agree with my beliefs and therefore do not buy my books. And that is just how it is.
The workplace argument is different- that falls under legal protections. But if I wanted to be the type of person who didn't patronize Mormon-owned business, or even if I was an asshole and avoided black or hispanic owned businesses, that is also my right to do so.
My main issue is that I don't agree with the politics of the Mormon church, I like Mormon people just fine. But I don't patronize businesses that espouse homophobia and actively work against equal rights, period. And that means I do skip out on stuff that I might like to read, eat, or do. I do the same for people/companies that don't care about the environment, underpay women, or short change their vendors and distributors. And if I find out a company I like does those things, I write and tell them that I won't be doing business with them any longer and tell them why.
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 5th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
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Explain to me HOW I am limiting Card's freedom?

I. Money allows one to exercise freedom.
II. Card makes money by selling books.
III. You believe you shouldn't buy his books if you disagree with him.
IV. You tell other people who disagree with him that they shouldn't buy his books (i.e. "vote" with their money).

As a result, Card sells fewer books and makes less money. By premise 1, his freedom is limited. QED.

Incidentally, saying that Card doesn't have to sell books and offering the possibility of employment elsewhere implies that certain occupations should only be open to those who agree with you.

The workplace argument is different- that falls under legal protections.

And why, in your view, is that legally protected? It seems to me that it is because one shouldn't be discriminated against because of their views and should have the right to voice them without fear of retribution (economic, violent, or otherwise).

But I don't patronize businesses that espouse homophobia and actively work against equal rights, period

In doing so, you harm them merely because they disagree with you. You attempt to harm them by limiting their bottom line.

In doing so, you are attempting to dictate who can be free and how free they can be on the basis of how much they agree with you.

Now, you can argue that your contribution is small, that it makes almost no difference, et cetera. I am intentionally overstating the influence that your decision has. Nonetheless, I believe that you do this willfully with malicious intent.

I believe that when someone disagrees with someone else, they ought to discuss their differences. I believe there's no reason that a difference of opinion ought to prevent friendship. I do not believe that people should try to harm each other (even through "socially acceptable" means like refusing to patronize their business) because they disagree with each other.
[User Picture]
From:saraphina_marie
Date:November 5th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
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I don't prohibit other people from buying Card's work.
I don't prohibit him from being an author.
I don't prohibit him from writing.
Just as I don't prohibit WalMart from engaging in shady business practices. Or prohibit credit cards from jacking up interest rates and lying to customers.
I just choose not to support those things which I find distasteful.
And those people/companies have the right not to change because I don't agree with them. But if they want my business they will change to suit me- which is how capitalism works.
If they don't want to change I have other authors and other business to patronize. Which is also how capitalism works.
Competition.
By your rationale I must buy every book ever written or poor authors will starve and be deprived of freedom on my account, which is an utterly ridiculous assumption.
So what then is the difference in A) I will not buy Card's book because I do not want to show support for his corrupt values system or B) I will not buy Card's book because rent is due and I don't have the money or C) I will not buy Card's book because I bought Jacqueline Carey's instead.
In each of these scenarios I have not bought Card's book. Does only one negatively impact his "freedom"? Or do all of them? Does the reason I did not buy the book ultimately matter if it does not change the outcome?
And if in your opinion they ALL impact his freedom then each one of us on the planet is a detriment to the freedom of everyone else.
Either way, as fancy and logical as your argument may sound, it just doesn't hold water.

(Edit for typo fix)

Edited at 2009-11-05 10:18 pm (UTC)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 6th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
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Just ignore him. No amount of reason will get through to him.

I've seen his comments on a few journals. I was hoping he was a troll, but it looks like he's a real person. That would be sad, if it wasn't so funny. LOL.
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 6th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
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I love being important enough to have people sniping at me who are honestly afraid to admit who they are 8)
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 6th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
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I don't prohibit other people from buying Card's work.

Your words:
So I don't help him with that. And I am pretty open about that and do tell people with similar views to my own that they might want to consider similar action.

You don't have the power to stop them, but it sure sounds like you would if you could. Either way, you promote that action as a reasonable response to someone who disagrees with you.

I don't prohibit him from being an author.
I don't prohibit him from writing.

Your words:
And if that means he has to flip burgers at Mickey D's, so be it.

You've said several times that the alternative to changing his views so that he agrees with you is to select another occupation. If you had the power, you would stop him from being a professional author.

In each of these scenarios I have not bought Card's book. Does only one negatively impact his "freedom"? Or do all of them? Does the reason I did not buy the book ultimately matter if it does not change the outcome?

I agree 100% that the outcome isn't changed, but:

"The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
-Thomas Becket, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

If you don't buy something because of the product, then more power to you. That's an indication of how good a product is and that's how capitalism works. I'm behind you 100%

If you don't buy something because the person who makes it disagrees with you, then that's not an indication of anything about the product. Instead, it's an indication of the lengths you'll go to in order to harm someone you disagree with.

And if in your opinion they ALL impact his freedom then each one of us on the planet is a detriment to the freedom of everyone else.

Incidentally, I do believe that to an extent (and I've explained elsewhere in here that I believe that sustainable and reliable personal space travel is the cure to all woes), but that isn't something I'm drawing on in this disagreement.

(I still don't like the way LJ formats after a tag, so I edited this to clear up that extra whitespace)

Edited at 2009-11-06 11:43 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:saraphina_marie
Date:November 6th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
So, I have the power to make people bow to my commands? Good to know.
Too bad it doesn't work on you, eh?
You're about as much fun to argue with as a braying ass and about as reasonable, too.
Don't know why I even bothered to attempt to have a decent, well-reasoned debate with you. You only see your own opinion and nothing further, ever.
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:November 10th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
(huh -- I thought I posted this forever ago, but here this window is, waiting for me to click "post comment")

Your words:
So, I have the power to make people bow to my commands? Good to know.

My words:
You don't have the power to stop them, but it sure sounds like you would if you could.

The absolute least you could do if you're going to bother to add anything else is to read 6 lines (and only one of those lines was my own!) of my comment.

I've done you the same courtesy and I've made a point of showing it by quoting your words back at you in my rebuttals.

(Incidentally, that tendency of mine makes your comparison to a braying ass somewhat self-deprecating, considering a not insignificant fraction of my comments have quoted you)

You only see your own opinion and nothing further, ever.

That's a very interesting comment given that my argument is that you're unaccepting of other's opinions.

How exactly do you square telling someone who's trying to tell you to accept other people's opinions with the conclusion that he's incapable of seeing other people's opinions? Freudian projection is a little rude, but I'm starting to wonder if it fits the mark.

Anyway, unlike you, my decision to buy your books isn't at all affected because you disagree with me. This is obviously the mark of someone who is so inflexible in his thinking that he cannot conceive of anything other than my "own opinion and nothing further, ever."

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