1. The Trump Supporter: Jose Colon, owner of the Fresh Food Supermarket in Oakdale, New York,
Mr. Colon, a legal immigrant from the Dominican Republic and a naturalized citizen, advertised a discount for supporters of President Trump on the store’s Facebook page last week.
“Trump supporters get 20% off. Mention at the cash register you are a Trump supporter to get discount. (Excludes beer),” it read, as you can see above.
The store was immediately inundated with threats and social media posts advocating a boycott. Colon says he’s puzzled. .“We’re supposed to live in a free country,” Colon told Fox News. “This is weird. It’s crazy…We live in a free country where we support democracy, where we can go both ways, we can support left, right — whatever you want. I decided to vote and support the best interest, I believe, for this country.”
He has responded by offering the same discount to Biden supporters, and is claiming that this was his intent all along, though he is a vocal supporter of the President.
Let me try to explain what this particular citizen doesn’t seem to understand about his free country. It’s not going to remain free if people and businesses withhold goods and services from citizens based on their political beliefs, just as it is destructive to discriminate based on other criteria. If you want to break the nation into armed camps, having special restaurants, bars, grocery stores and movie theaters restricted to those of certain political persuasions is an excellent way to do it. What Colon did was well-intentioned, but un-American. He deserved the blowback, though the social media messages quotes don’t demonstrate any more civic comprehension than the grocery store owner seems to posess: what’s wrong with the discount isn’t that “Orange Man Bad,” but that it is unethical for businesses to reward customers for their political views, which is the same as penalizing other customers for their political views. What does Colon think he’s doing? Buying votes with his discount?
I wouldn’t organize a boycott against a store that did this, but I wouldn’t buy groceries there again.
Then Colon’s solution to this dilemma of his own making was to offer the same discount to Biden supporters, discriminating against those who want to vote for the Libertarian or Green Party candidates, or Kanye West. Or me. Wrong. This flunks the Golden Rule test, Kant’s Universality test, and simple utilitarianism. In short, it’s unethical, and there is no ethical or civic defense for what he did. To be fair, the conservative news sources I’ve checked on this story, like Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, don’t seem to comprehend the problem any more than Colon does.
Meanwhile, does anyone believe that Colon always intended to offer a 20% discount to both Trump and Biden supporters as he now says? This is another reason for amateurs to stay out of politics: the pros lie better.
2. The Biden Supporter: David Barrett, CEO of the software company Expensify.
Apparently in the throes of Trump Derangement, Barrett assumed it was a legitimate use of his company’s customer contact data to send an email promoting Joe Biden to everyone on the list. It’s hard to read Barrett’s screed in the jpeg below,
….so you can also read it here.
The thing is stuffed with Trump-Hate talking points, and it isn’t worth the time and effort to rebut his arguments (but boy am I sick of hearing from Democrats about how the President is a “threat to democracy,” when they have done more damage to democratic institutions in four years while trying to destroy the President than either party had done in the previous hundred, and are openly preparing to do more), nor is it relevant. As with grocery stores, universities, news organizations and major league baseball teams, tech companies must not abuse their business relationships to push political agendas, and if they do, they should suffer for it. In his email, Barrett tried to justify his unsolicited political pimping:
Bad answer. To be clear, customers not only don’t need to listen, they don’t need to find this crap in their inboxes. Sending mass political email to commercial lists without permission is unethical, and in some cases illegal. The First Amendment does not give Barrett a right to use company data to advance his own political beliefs: if a captive and submissive board approved this abuse of customer trust, it, and he, deserve all the antipathy that is coming their way. Barrett has a right as a private citizen to advocate whatever he wants; using his company as a promotional platform is unfair, disrespectful and irresponsible, and, I will add, his tone is pompous and self-righteous. Again, I will not delve into his bias and ignorance, but if you want to advertise that a company you depend on is run by a fool, this is a fine way to do it.
I’m happy to be able to report that many of his clients are dropping Expensify in response to this egregious behavior, and this arrogant overreach is likely to cost Exepensify dearly. One CEO eloquently explained to Barrett, or tried to, where his email crossed ethical lines:
Pointers: Jeff and Matthew B.