North Carolina Boycott – Hypocrisy?

Sometimes it’s interesting to read things that you don’t necessarily agree with. It keeps us intellectually honest. It stimulates our brains. It forces us to question our assumptions about our beliefs and the world. It can make us realize that there isn’t one correct answer but a multitude that depend on your values, faith and situation in life.

Doing a quick scan of the New York Post reveals that it isn’t my kind of paper. As far as the New York Times and Boston Globe lean to the left, the Post leans to the right. Certainly reading an op ed telling me how I can’t be a woman and another supporting Curt Shilling’s transphobic comments put the paper’s editorial position in perspective.

Yet a ran across this op ed piece about the North Carolina Boycott and it had some more nuance and was somewhat interesting. It’s still on the transphobic side but not 100% and it makes some point. There is, in fact, a lot of public outrage and action against North Carolina and none against many countries where as bad or worse things are done to the LGBT community, so the question is, is that hypocrisy?

Not in the literal sense of course: “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”, or at least I suspect that the companies involved and the artists involved don’t practice discrimination themselves against LGBT people. Yet that isn’t what the op ed piece was talking about.

An extended version of the definition can quite reasonably be considered taking money from one set of scoundrels while condemning another.

I think in a ideal world the article is correct. These artists and companies should refuse all dealings with those counties that do repugnant things. There are several differences though, and they also apply to the country dealing with other counties that have bad human rights records. You may not agree with all of these, hey I’m not comfortable with all of these but they are some of the reasons:

  • Lack of impact  – Boycotting NC can have a real effect on the state, boycotting Dubai has no effect. If the US doesn’t help the Saudis the Chinese will.
  • Constructive Engagement – Engaging in trade provides some leverage to improve things, not being involved provides none. Argues in favor of continuing to trade with countries, not so much with states. Perhaps after they decide this self indulgence has been too expensive.
  • Diplomacy – See lack of impact. We have less leverage diplomatically if we have no stick and those ongoing relationships have value.

All in all I think the Post article is comparing apples and oranges. If the US or companies in the US could have the impact on supplier nations that they may end up having on NC then there would be a much stronger moral case to be made.



2 thoughts on “North Carolina Boycott – Hypocrisy?

  1. You are saying in effect, one should only protest something if it might do some good. That is pragmatism or utilitarianism. This is in contrast to taking a consistent position on principle. There is a double-standard whereby selective outrage seems to always be directed at one’s political opponents, while those who align with one’s own political agenda can do no wrong. This isn’t technically hypocrisy. It’s politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, thanks for the comment! I guess what I’m saying is that being pragmatic seems acceptable as a strategy in the real world. It doesn’t mean I think it admirable, I’d much rather consistency. I have long had trouble with those who don’t see that both ones political opponents as well as those one supports have their flaws, I think we very much agree there.


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