Sunday, September 06, 2009

Support the Whole Foods Buycott

Here you see a Move On operative instructing folks on how exercise the heckler's veto against town hall participants who "ask questions" (his words) hostile to Obama's version of health care reform.

There is a profound difference between answering an argument with ideas, facts and logic, and simply preventing the speaker from being heard, either by punishing them for their statements, intimidating them into silence, or preventing them from being heard and taken seriously (for instance, by drowning them out, smearing their character, or simply ridiculing them).

There are many ethical differences between the strategies that fall on the dark side of this distinction, but one thing is true of all: while the former strategies support and enhance the dialogue, the latter shut it down. Above, you see someone trying to shut down the dialogue. Regardless of your position on medical care, this man is your enemy. You need the dialogue to continue.

The same things are true of the leftists who are boycotting Whole Foods because its CEO, left-libertarian John Mackey, wrote an op-ed piece proposing alternatives to Obamacare. The last time I checked this poll, most of the HuffPo readers who checked in were boycotting Whole Foods.

Mackey was speaking as a private citizen and expressing is opinion. In sharp contrast to the big pharmaceutical companies that have launched a million dollar media blitz in favor of Obamacare, Whole Foods is not devoting a penny of corporate assets to promoting Mackay's views.

These people are not answering what his views. They are trying to punish him for expressing them. They are trying to shut him up.

There is reason to doubt that this exercise in intolerance will hurt Whole Foods, but I think it behooves those of us who support reasoned dialogue and free speech to take part in a Whole Foods buycott. Even if you are not a big fan of over-priced arugula, spending money at Whole Foods can help foil illiberal "progressives" in their attempt to intimidate opposition and end the dialogue.

... If I find time, I'll post a recipe I made after shopping at Whole Foods last week.


Jeremy said...

I find it someone ironic that the same people who support obamacare are against whole foods. Maybe if more purchased their food there as a means of preventative health care, that is, taking care of their body, this whole healthcare fiasco would not be happening. Maybe that gives to much credit to the motives of the people pushing for it.

Lester Hunt said...

There are other reasons why the people who are trying to punish Mackey ought to celebrate him: He pays his employees more than the unions can promise them. He offers excellent medical coverage. Last year, he refused to draw his own salary (he thinks execs are paid too much).

Why doesn't the left love him?

The situation is rich with irony indeed.

thedancinganimal said...

Hi, it's Brad Wissmueller from your Nietzsche class last fall. Just wanted to say I've enjoyed following the blog, and especially enjoyed this post. I spent two hours following the whole foods boycott fiasco around the internet last night and even though I am generally apolitical, I got all fired up because of the mindless comments and blogs about it. It seems most people simply can't handle complexity and must see things as black and white, left and right. I read numerous comments labeling Mackey as Republican and a member of the right (as if it were a simple straight line). Hopefully this fiasco (which WSJ, according to Mackey's blog, retitled “Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare,” from the title he gave "Health Care Reform"), if nothing else, will open a few minds to the wide range of social/political viewpoints actually available and move "debate" away from such dichotomous thinking.

Ann said...

The left, especially Obama, keep repeating that the Republicans offer no alternatives to Obamacare. They apparently choose to ignore the substantive suggestions Mackey makes, which I think are far better than anything Congress is hatching. I think the left does not understand (or maybe care) about any differences between republicans and libertarians. I also think there is too much economic illiteracy out there, and that's why otherwise fairly reasonable people become so nasty and emotional about health care debate and resort to ad hominem tirades. It seems especially true of the current left whose heros appear to include people like Michael Moore.

Lester Hunt said...


Welcome aboard! Glad to see you got in at Georgia.

As to your comment, yes, I think we do need more outside-the-box thinking. If the current crisis gets bad enough, we just might get it, if only out of desperation.