I watched with interest the story unfolding about the advertising issue between the Co-op and The Spectator. For those of you who may not be aware of it, the Co-op has decided to stop advertising in The Spectator because of its transphobic articles. The Spectator got its dig in first by banning the Co-op from advertising within its pages. The story was spun as an attack on free speech with supporters of the magazine claiming that the Co-op was trying to shut the magazine down.
What rubbish. I have never read the Spectator and doubt I will but I have no view on whether it should exist or not. I use the Co-op however and am of the view that companies should live up to their ethical values and if it feels that these are not served by the Spectator then it is fine to withdraw its support.
I try and take an interest in the ethical position of businesses I deal with. There is no such thing as an ethical company, only those that are trying to put their values to the fore. The Co-op is one such organisation yet it doesn’t always get it right.
There are many commercial organisations I choose not to spend my money with. I am not trying to shut them down, just not supporting them. There is a big difference. Everyone has the right to spend their own money as they see fit. If I don’t like what I think a company stands for, then I don’t go in. There is no difference between what I do and what the Co-op has done.
As for free speech, if there is such a thing (there are many things that are against the law to say or print), it does not come without consequences. Say what you want, but don’t get upset if someone takes umbrage. Print what you want but don’t get upset if someone decides that they don’t want to give you money.
I’m off to the Co-op.