Boycotts are an extremely important part of democracy. They allow people to express their most fundamental human rights by deciding not to support a business they agree with until they feel that that business is behaving ethically. Successful boycotts can help shape the world for the better. A recent boycott succeeded in forcing Lego to break their ties with major oil corporations, a major step towards moving the world away from its ridiculous & outdated dependency on glorified dirt. They can also demonstrate political & humanitarian solidarity, such as when US President Jimmy Carter led 60 countries to boycott the 1980 USSR Olympics due to their refusal to pull troops from Afghanistan (we’ll just skip over the irony in that one).
In case you’ve forgotten your Junior Cert history, the term Boycott originated in Ireland when the Irish Land League demanded that Charles Boycott further reduce their rents. Instead of resorting the violence, everyone from business owners to postmen refused to provide services to Mr. Boycott. Within weeks, the news had spread worldwide, which was a major feat for 1880. In a few short months, Boycott was forced to leave Ireland, and the residents of Co. Mayo had shown the world that there was a nonviolent way to successfully take on “the man”.
Since then, pretty much everyone who has the luxury of choice has boycotted something. For example, I never pay to see anything with Mark Wahlberg in it, because I don’t like to give money to a multi-millionaire who believes that serving 45 days in jail is sufficient punishment for a myriad of racially motivated hate crimes that left a black woman with permanent facial scars, among other not-so-happy endings.
Then there are the other boycotts, that attempt to keep the status-quo, such as people who boycott companies that support gay rights. While these are not people whose opinions I respect, I certainly understand their logic: they think homosexuality is wrong, and they don’t want to support anything that supports it.
Then there are the people whose boycotts are so outlandish that you have to wonder how these people manage to function on a day-to-day basis. The latest boycott of Starbucks is one such example of this.
Conservative Christians have recently taken issue with this year’s design of the Starbucks Christmas cup. The cup, which is a gradient red with a white top, evokes the Christmas colours in a pretty minimalist way. This has now officially been declared a “war on Christmas”, as the cup is not beset with your traditional Christmas imagery, such as wreaths & reindeer. Certain Christians now feel that the giant multinational is trying to take the Christ out of Christmas while still taking the money out of their pockets, and so, have launched this ridiculous little boycott.
The only real question that this boycott poses is whether the graphic design team over at Starbucks is now dejectedly agreeing to up the Christmas next time, or whether they’re all just laughing their asses off at all this free publicity from a tiny group of loonies who clearly have far too much access to the internet. Only time will tell.