- Mar 11, 2006
- Reaction score
Meanwhile: Why not shop with prejudice? Alex Beam The Boston Globe Published: January 16, 2007 BOSTON: My new computer should be arriving any day now. It's a Lenovo, the name the new Chinese owners have assigned to IBM's former personal-computer business. I was seriously considering buying an HP Pavilion, but I am boycotting Hewlett-Packard. Why? Because last fall we learned that Hewlett-Packard sicced private investigators on journalists, going through their trash and monitoring their phone calls. I reason that if Hewlett-Packard wants to prevent my peers from engaging in the lawful activity of newsgathering, then I have every right to punish them in the marketplace. Shopping with prejudice. Why not? There was a hilarious, unexpected moment in an episode of the television show "Entourage" when Martin Landau, playing an over-the-hill Hollywood agent, refuses to ride in Ari Gold's luxury BMW. "I won't get into that Nazi sled," Landau says. Many Jews still boycott German-made goods, and who can blame them? (Cue comedian Jackie Mason's famous joke: "A Jew who can't afford a Mercedes says, 'You expect me to drive a German car?'") The former Boston Globe editorial page editor Martin Nolan once opined that tens of thousands of Bostonians abandoned our paper for a lifetime, objecting to the Globe's support of public school busing in the 1970s. People buy with their hearts, not with their heads. I understand the counterarguments, loud and clear. When I timidly pitched my idea of a Hewlett-Packard boycott on a Web site frequented by journalists, Washington Times technology writer Mark Kellner took me to task. "'Pretext-gate,' or whatever it will be called, is a sad lapse by a very good and generally responsible corporation," Kellner wrote. "The behavior of some people at [Hewlett-Packard] stinks, no doubt about that. But if I need good equipment for my newsroom, I should let quality — and not pique — decide." No. Go pique! So much buying is irrational behavior anyway. I boycotted a local bookstore for a year because the owner refused to speak to a Boston Globe reporter — who happened to be me. Have you tasted the Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam at the Ikea store? Heck, I'll buy $500 worth of furniture and cheapo Indonesian wall hangings just to hang out in that subsidized cafeteria. What is advertising, if not an attempt to systematize and reinforce irrational decisions? Do I care that the football player Tom Brady has been a spokesman for Dunkin' Donuts? No. I once won a Dunkin' Donuts contest; I'm a customer for life. I recently wanted to switch to a credit card that would earn me frequent-flier miles on United Airlines, so I could listen to air traffic control on their in-flight Channel 9. CitiBank — they gave me my first ATM card in 1977; I'm a fan for life — offered to switch me to their Visa rewards card, which earns United miles. But I couldn't stand those moronic ads starring "Roman," a wannabe Borat from Boobistan. I signed up with Chase bank instead. Yes, it is a complex world out there. I can't support the boycott on Canadian seafood, ostensibly to protest the commercial seal hunt. I don't see the connection between men and women scrounging for cod in the North Atlantic and the bad guys clubbing little seals up in Nanook-land. Yet, inexplicably, while "punishing" Hewlett- Packard, I have been rewarding its evil Silicon Valley twin, Apple Computer, quite generously in the past few months, buying into the iCraze. Perhaps you haven't heard? St. Steven Jobs & Co. have successfully whitewashed a stock-options backdating scandal, the kind of white-collar crime that has already cost several white dudes their jobs. But not this Jobs. Why not? "Everybody loves Steven," explains the Slate magazine writer Daniel Gross, who compares the charismatic chief executive to basketball legend Michael Jordan. "He's a revered Hall of Famer who doesn't get whistled for fouls that send other pros to the bench." Do I approve of defrauding shareholders by backdating executives' options awards? No. Do I think it's right for Apple's glamorama board, starring Mr. Inconvenient Truth himself, Al Gore, to explain away the company's crime with Nixonian doublespeak? No, I don't. But I've made my irrational decision, and I am sticking to it. I'll be downloading Apple's new theme song — "Ain't Misbehavin'" — to my iTunes account before nightfall.