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Boycotting white supremacists


This is really invidious:

Shafer and Silver think it’s bad to threaten to boycott advertisers if they give their advertisers to white supremacist propaganda sites:

You might not like [Tucker] Carlson’s show—I certainly don’t—and wish for it an immediate, shallow grave in the TV-show boneyard. His retrograde views on race, minorities, gays and women and his demagogic demeanor give me great pleasure to turn the dial whenever he pops up on my tube. In that sense, I’ve been boycotting Carlson’s Fox show pretty much as long as it’s been running.

But as much as the Carlson show pains me, the calls by activists for an advertiser boycott pain me more. . .  I’ve been watching TV news and reading newspapers and magazines for a lifetime. The notion that an advertisement should constitute an automatic endorsement of a program or news article comes as a novel argument to me. My understanding has always been that advertisers buy space because they want to attract the attention of the eyes and ears drawn in by news.

The problem here is that Jack Shafer and Nate Silver can’t face up to what Tucker Carlson and Fox News and Donald Trump and, ultimately, the Republican party now represent.  What they represent is white supremacist ethno-nationalism.  I’m pretty sure Shafer, Silver, and the rest of the pearl-clutching centrist brigade wouldn’t object to an advertiser refusing to advertise on Stormfront, right?  It’s still OK not to give money to Richard Spencer or David Duke, right?

Or are such decisions also interfering with the smooth functioning of the Marketplace of Ideas?

The other problem here is that calling for a boycott isn’t asking an advertiser not to endorse a political viewpoint.  It’s asking the advertiser not to associate itself with that viewpoint.  Advertisers are corporations, and corporations, when functioning as they are legally designed to function, “endorse” literally nothing but maximizing shareholder value.  So if they choose not to associate themselves with a political viewpoint, it’s because associating themselves with this viewpoint is bad for business, period.

So what Shafer, Silver et. al. are saying is that they think it’s unfortunate that some people are trying to make voluntarily associating your products and services with white supremacy bad for your business.

Now why is that? Don’t they want white supremacy to be so toxic to “brands” and “mission statements” and and q-ratings and what not that being associated with white supremacy, even implicitly, becomes unprofitable for profit-maximizing entities?

Again, the problem here is the failure to look our current reality in the face. (This is no doubt in no small part to the fact that our current reality isn’t exactly smacking Shafer and Silver around as much — yet — as lots of people who aren’t upper class white guys).  Apparently boycotting Tucker Carlson [!] is “extremist,” because there’s a huge audience for what Tucker Carlson is selling, which again is white supremacy.  But it can’t really be white supremacy, because there’s a huge audience for it, and that would mean that the boycotters are trying to delegitimate one of America’s two major political parties.

And that would be really bad because . . . wait for it . . . that would be bad for business — Shafer’s and Silver’s business, specifically:

If you read the rest of thread, it becomes crystal clear that Silver is objecting to politically motivated boycotts because they are bad for enterprises like his.

(BTW Ornstein’s claim is nonsensical as well — white supremacy is a political viewpoint, Norm! — but that’s a subject for another post.)




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