Sunday, September 30, 2007

Don't Count Me In

The Catholic League is calling for an extended boycott of Miller Brewing Co. because of its sponsorship of the (graphic) depravity that is the Folsom Street Fair. As a prudential matter, as nearly all boycotts are, Miller's sponsorship of the event did not seem to have been provided expressly to support the behavior featured on display, making the proximate relationship to evil of a purchase of Miller products second-order at best, assuming it is also not intended to support the event.

Another thing is there is really little choice if you are craving mass-produced light pilsner, which, yes, I do on occasion. A friend of The Clan's has been boycotting Anheuser-Busch for several years because of their sponsorship of similar events, though not quite as over-the-top as this one, in other cities.

In fact, these kinds of things (boycotts) can only have a snowball's chance unless they somehow affect the unholy alliance between professional sports and the alcohol industry.

That said, I'm certainly not going out of my way to buy Miller, but neither will I be pouring any down the drain.

(HHT: Scott Carson)


  1. I have a problem with your reasoning. While Miller may not be outrightly supporting the behaviors, they are a corporation. They are a business. Money talks and it talks loudly. There are people who work for corporations who decide what events to sponsor and what events to not sponsor. They made clear choices over what types of events they want their brand to be associated with.
    Your thought that the boycott will not help is also wrong. Why are people always looking for the path of least resistence? If Budweiser is a bad corporation too, then don't purchase their product either. There are thousands (literally) of beers being made in the US, and if beer is so important, do some research, find out about a company's values and give that company your money. Money is the marketplace's equal of a vote. You don't like the candidate, you don't vote for them. You don't like the company, you don't give them your money. Even if you are the only one boycotting the product, over the course of your lifetime, that could easily be in the hundreds of dollars. The idea that we should just casually not do much is what allows us to be plowed over time and time again. Maybe it's only $5 compared to the billions others will spend every year, but it's not billions PLUS your $5.

  2. Well, that's why it's a prudential matter. Yeah, I could do all those things. It is not clear whether I should do them, and it is false that I must do them. Yes, the company affiliated itself in this case with something I don't like. It also supports the Milwaukee Zoo and sunk $40 million into Miller Park, things I do like. But here's the thing.

    Corporations are made of... people. There are a lot of good people who work for Miller, its distributors, and its retailers. My withholding my $5 will do nothing to stop their diversity play in sponsoring the Folsom Street Fair, and it will cause incremental harm to good people (and some bad people). And to what end? So I can feel like I'm sticking it to the man? Or will I be flirting with scrupulosity, because to stop there would be arbitrary: I couldn't shop at Walgreen's because they sell sex toys off the shelf, I couldn't buy clothes at Wal-Mart because it's not clear their brands can prove they do not use sweat shop labor, I couldn't use my cell phone because they have a division that peddles porn-on-demand in hotels, I couldn't blog because my PC has components made by companies who pay for employees' families' abortion on demand.

    No, boycotts rarely work. And there really is no man to stick it to. If you want to influence Miller, as a consumer, as I noted, you have to figure out a way to strike the Unholy Alliance. My sitting it out until somebody figures that one out is not taking the path of least resistance. It's called picking my spots.



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