expectations

A few times over the past several years I have written to organizations of various sorts to ask them not to politicize their public presence, or at least to tone the politics down. (Some of these companies have been right-leaning, more of them left-leaning.) These have been products or services or institutions that have no intrinsic political slant, but their owners have insisted in bolting on their politics to everything they do. I have asked them not to do that, because the 24/7 politicization of culture gets really wearying. And in every single case their reply to me has been the same, in only slightly varying words: “If you don’t agree not only with our politics but with the emphasis we place on our politics, then we don’t want your business.” To which my first thought has always been: Wow, you guys must be really making bank. 

But my second thought has been: Maybe you should have the integrity to make public, right on your website, your expectations for your customers: What political positions do you demand that people take before you’ll condescend to accept their money?


UPDATE 2021-04-29: I have to confess I did something a bit mischievous the other day, after the whole big scuffle broke out about Basecamp's banning political debate from its internal communications. Several small tech businesses with which I have accounts went absolutely ballistic about that decision — really, you'd have thought the Basecamp founders had endorsed Hitler or even Donald Trump — and said that in protest they were closing their Basecamp accounts. So I thought it would be fun to write to them and say that I was quite disturbed about their attack on Basecamp and didn't know whether I could continue to do business with them. (I know, I know, it's a trick unworthy of my sterling character.) Within mere minutes of receiving my messages all of them wrote back to say that they didn't want my business. I didn't reply, because I thought I had taken it far enough, but I wonder: Were they expecting Basecamp to respond to them any differently they they responded to me? The whole song and dance is ridiculous: "I don't want their business!" "Well, I don't want your business." "Then I don't want your business." Maybe everyone involved should just, I don't know, get into some business that doesn't involve … business.