Ad hominem

An ad hominem argument involves rejecting work because of your opinions about the worker. Do I have to approve everything about you in order to have anything to do with you at all? Were your shoes made in a sweatshop? Has your favorite person ever said anything with which you disagree? Have you stopped beating your mother? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Why not? What’s your credit score? Do you have a college degree? Do you reuse, recycle, and I forget the other one? Did I mention that an ad hominem argument is fallacious?

When Marlon Brando had an American Indian woman refuse the Best Actor Oscar on his behalf in 1973, I thought it was silly (Brando was making a statement about the poor treatment of American Indians in the film industry). Even then the U.S. government treated American Indians better than they ever had.

On the other hand, because of General Electric’s profiteering in the nuclear industry and decades of pollution, I have boycotted its products for more than 30 years. I know GE doesn’t care, and now and then it has the best features and price, but I’m steadfast.

A couple of years ago when I got my yearly motor club membership card, I learned I was now covered by the GE motor club. They snuck up on me, and I’ve since changed motor clubs. Keeping the old membership would’ve been easier than not, because GE sent me several more reminders. It was in some kind of corporate denial and couldn’t believe that I had broken off our relationship. At one point it sent me an overdue notice, threatening to cut off my coverage unless I forked over the required amount quickly. As activism, my avoidance of General Electric is as useless as Brando’s, and it does me good nonetheless.

How much do I need to know about you to deal with you, do business with you, buy your products and services?

I buy my gas at Citgo because I hear the money will go to Venezuela; I go to my local hardware store unless I need to match something I bought at a multinational; generally, I shop at the smallest place practical as a way to slow the avalanche of money to corporations, 10 bucks at a time.

What counts?

On yet another hand, when Miles Davis married and commenced to beat up Cicely Tyson, I didn’t stop buying his music. I didn’t approve of his knocking Tyson around, but it was none of my business. I don’t approve of hitting women or men, but especially women. I’m old fashioned like that. Still, he was a great artist, no matter who he hit.

I didn’t think much of John Wayne’s politics, but Hondo was a good movie just the same.

And I don’t care if Bogart ate babies raw. He was the man.