Conflicts of Interest

The Oatmeal is raising money for the Tesla museum, and I won’t be giving any.  While I really like the Tesla museum concept as well as its groundswell of support, The Oatmeal frequently uses fatness as a signifier of disgustingness or slobbiness, most famously in his “reasons I choose to run” comic but also in most of his other comics that feature “bad people”.

A friend frequently raises money for Komen doing 5K’s or walks.  I don’t contribute.  While I’m happy for my friends who do this and glad they enjoy it, the Komen foundation primarily funds branding that helps the foundation under the guise of “awareness” campaigns.  They also went against Planned Parenthood, though they at least verbally recanted that position after they got criticised for it.

I love Chick-Fil-A chicken, and I recognize that their franchise owners may not 100% agree with the corporate mission, goals, or contribution patterns.  But, the fact is that CFA is a conservative Christian company, and money they get is used to promote those ideals both internal and external to the company itself.

Jimmy John’s is near my work, and they do something wonderful that no other sandwich eatery does:  they offer a sandwich with no cheese or toppings and charge less for it.  I used to love them for that.  Then, their owner had a hissyfit over ObamaCare, effectively reducing his employees to bargaining chips that he was willing to throw away to make a point.

Sometimes, I can find a middle ground with this sort of stuff.  I can compartmentalize it.  For CFA, I do my “hate neutral” contribution to a pro-gay or pro-abortion charity when I eat there.  Heck, to make up for eating inhumane meat, I donate to an organization that works with farmers to help them adopt humane farming practices and to create and promote humane certifications.  These things work for my conscience, even though they might not work for everyone.

Sometimes, I have trouble.  The Tesla effort is one of them.  I credit The Oatmeal with raising awareness of Tesla as a scientific contributor.  I do think he started that trend, though I also saw it in other media.  I think having a Tesla museum that was largely funded by the internet is a great thing.  But…I can’t bring myself to support it because of The Oatmeal’s other views.  I feel like if I raise his profile, I’m raising it across the board, not just for this one thing.  And it sucks to feel like doing good things would raise the profile of bad things.  If I don’t eat at Jimmy John’s, they don’t make money, and they lay off employees anyways.  Is that really better?  Maybe…maybe they work somewhere that doesn’t have an asshole as an owner.  But maybe they don’t, and maybe store managers and owners who invested in the business without knowing or caring about the owner’s views get screwed.

I’d like to say that vocally criticising things is enough, but I see over and over again that (at least in the US, can’t speak for elsewhere) we’re told to “vote with our dollar” if we don’t like something.  I also think that if you “vote with your dollar” and you never would have shopped there anyways, it’s not that meaningful.  So, if it doesn’t suck every now and then, it doesn’t mean much not to do it.

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