Geoff Meeker pointed out this interesting article on Facebook yesterday. It's about six weeks old, but I'd never heard talk of it before. About 200 companies have announced they are boycotting Glenn Beck's show on the Fox News Network. Some, like Apple, have announced they're done with Fox altogether.
I had an initial mixed reaction when I read that. On the one hand, good. I confess my only real exposure to Beck is when watching Jon Stewart ruthlessly mock him. I'm not sure what Stewart would have done this past year if he didn't have Beck to go up one side and down the other on. But from everything I've read and seen, the man is a serious douchebag. Yes, I believe in opinions and commentary. Yes, I believe a little exaggeration for comedic effect can have value. But whatever Beck is up to it's of little value to public discourse, although probably of large value to Beck's bank account.
Let's put it this way, if Beck and Anne Coulter ever had a child, I'm pretty sure it would be meeting the Messiah on the Fields of Armageddon in about 20 or 30 years time.
Here's the thing though, boycotts like this have always made me a touch squeamish. There's something about "we don't like what you're saying, so we're not going to advertise with you" that triggers a reaction. Conservative religious groups have used similar tactics for years against radio stations, movie studios and television networks. Yes, I understand it's a perfectly legal and valid method of protest, but it always felt like "we can't beat you in a fair argument, so we're going to go after your money."
Although at least those boycotting Beck have not, to my knowledge, done what some of those groups did...go directly to people advertising on a tv or radio station and tell them they were going to boycott their business if they didn't stop advertising with the offending party. That always pissed me off. That always struck me as particularly cowardly.
No one is putting a gun to your heads and saying "you must advertise even if you don't like what they're being said." And considering Beck is more often then not spreading hate, I should be glad there are companies willing to take the stand and say, "no, we're not giving our money to you so you can keep saying that."
However, it still makes me feel a bit weird. Any thoughts?
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