Notes About IntegrityOctober 26, 2007 at 2:47 am | Posted in Activism, Contest, Dibs, Dreyer's, Education, Ethics, Free, Good vs. Evil, Ice cream, Integrity, Internet, Journalism, Kristin Bell, Nestlé, Organizing, Protesting, Truth, Vandalism | 10 Comments
Recently I had some trouble at work related to a prize that I won. I won a month’s worth of free ice cream from Dreyer’s for my workplace. Some of the people I work with obviously had a problem with this, because they chose to sticker the freezer with stuff that basically accused Dreyer’s parent company, Nestlé, of killing babies and being slave owners. My boss thought that it was great that people would be riled up as to sticker this piece of property which isn’t even ours.
Anyway, this is my site, so I’m going to rant about this and why I have a problem with it and I don’t care who hears me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against actual protesting. If people want to picket companies or have sit ins or write articles or do constructive things, then I am all for it. I just don’t happen to think that graffiti and/or stickering things is particularly constructive. In the case of the freezer at my work, I pretty much considered it vandalism, because *I* signed a contract that said we weren’t going to be stickering or sticking anything on the freezer. I didn’t ever tell my boss that we were explicitly NOT supposed to sticker the freezer, because I assumed an adult person would know better.
I have to wonder: aren’t people adult enough to figure out that you are not supposed to sticker things to other peoples’ property, especially when you have been loaned the property for free in order to provide you with something free?!? Well, apparently some people couldn’t figure that out, so of course it was MY fault for not telling anyone all of the rules related to the freezer. I mean, come on! If you are older than like 12 years old and you can’t figure that one out for yourself, then I really think you have problems.
Anyway, the stickering was removed from the freezer, because of my demands. It doesn’t mean it was taken down. It was just put on the wall instead. I still think it is bad form though, and this is where I am going to get into my schpeel about integrity.
I have to admit that I don’t know about what the Nestlé corporation has done in other countries, but I am also smart enough to know that I’m not going to find out enough of the truth on the internet to prompt me to go around slandering a company in public. The truth is that the world is very complex and when companies deal with or do business in various third world countries, what comes out of those dealings is complex as well. Actually, it doesn’t matter if it is a third world country or not. Business dealings anywhere are complex, but when you are dealing with countries that don’t have free democracies or don’t operate according to international laws or even American laws, things get very complex very fast. When you throw in huge poverty, corrupt governments, miseducation, war, anarchy and whatever else it becomes harder and harder to get at the truth and harder and harder to get the truth out.
So, what do you do when you want to know the truth of a situation? You do research and you ask questions and you dig until you find something resembling the truth, and then you dig some more and ask more people. Do you question the company? Yes. Do you question the people involved? Yes. Do you consult other sources besides those that are on the internet? Yes. The first rule of good research is to know that the internet is filled with shit. Sure, there is a lot of fun, good and even correct information on the internet, but the internet is also filled with everybody’s opinion about everything and those opinions pretty much go through no review process. Even this post that I am writing has not been seen by anyone but me, so should you cite this in another document as research? Hell no! This is my opinion. It is not truth. It is not a lie. It is just what I think. If I told you that the moon was made of cheese in this article, you could choose to believe it and site it as evidence somewhere, but that doesn’t mean that it will be true or that it should be used as valid scientific evidence!
Properly researching things is basically all about proper sources. You won’t be taken seriously anywhere in the world of academia or journalism if your sources are suspect or full of holes. I don’t care if 100 websites say the same thing, they are still not as good as one peer-reviewed journal article. And there is nothing like going straight to an individual as a source. Not any individual, but someone who has actually seen something or interacted with the focus of the story. And, if you get one person, you can’t always take their word for it, so you have to talk to a lot of people. This is what journalism is all about. It is about having the proper sources and spending the time to dig up information and then presenting the information in as unbiased a way as possible.
So, as far as I’m concerned, when you go out in a public place and slander a company for some reason, you sure as hell better have researched your shit and make sure you know what you are talking about. Reading stuff on the internet that has been passed down through tons and tons of people and gotten people riled up for no reason and without evidence does not count as valid research if you are going to go about slandering companies or people. Even if a company has been boycotted or sued, this does not necessarily mean that the company is guilty of anything. Maybe they are guilty, but it doesn’t guarantee it. There are literally millions of frivolous law suits that are filed all the time and people choose to boycott companies just because they want to. It doesn’t mean anything.
I’m not saying that all companies are good either. There are valid reasons to boycott companies and there are valid reasons to sue companies. There are people and companies in the world who do bad things. All I’m saying is that you aren’t going to find the proper evidence to begin slandering people by reading someone’s ranting site on the internet!
So, what the people did at my work was look at something 10 feet away from them, look something up on the internet, print it out and paste it to the freezer. This was their research and this was their activism. Meanwhile, they post these things not putting their name on it, but saying that my whole organization believes this, which of course includes me. And it is ME who has my name on all of the documents. It is ME who is the representative to the company who gave ME the free stuff. So, if this gets back to the company, they will think it is ME who is slandering them, telling them to fuck themselves and ultimately this lack of research and non-critical thinking will fall on MY shoulders and represent ME.
All I wanted was to do something nice for the people at my workplace. Period. I entered a contest I never thought I would win, but I thought: wow, that would be so nice for my workplace to have free ice cream! So, I entered the contest. Did I research the company? No. Do I research every company that I interact with, buy things from, support, deal with, etc.? No. How could I possibly research every company I have stuff from or interact with? The chair I sit on, the computer I use, the paper I print stuff on, the ink, whoever made the building I’m in, the people who take care of the grass, the companies that provide the oil for my car, the parts, the asphalt for the road, the water I use, the electricity, etc. etc. It is all provided through companies and corporations. The university I go to is probably even a corporation and the state I live in not to mention the corporations that fund the university and the state. I don’t have the time or the resources to research everything I touch or everything that I encounter. No one does.
But, if I had properly researched Nestlé and found out that they committed human rights violations, I probably would have never entered the contest and if I won I never would have accepted the prize.
But I didn’t research it. I don’t know enough. I accepted a prize of free ice cream. Kill me. String me up and call me a corporate monster for it. At least I have some integrity, because the people who wrote the signs at my workplace told the company to go fuck itself and then they said they would eat the ice cream! If you really believe that someone or some company is doing something wrong, then by all means stand up for what you believe in. A start would be to NOT eat the ice cream. A start would be to properly research what you might have picked up from the internet. A start would be to discuss your findings with the people you work with. A start would be to include the person who won the thing in your discussions. A start would be to make sure everyone is on board with something before you use their name in any form of protest. And a start would be to actually protest doing something productive instead of being completely lazy and juvenile and tampering with other peoples’ property. And a good start would be not slandering anyone or any company in public, but providing information that is credible for others to see. You know, write to your newspaper, write your congressperson, picket outside the company, write letters to the company, something, but this? It is just ridiculous.
The only lesson I’ve learned in all of this is to NEVER try to do anything nice for my workplace again. Never go out of my way to try to make it better. Never try to win a prize or a grant for them. Oh, because I guess I forgot to mention that *I* was the one who got yelled at by my boss and accused of “flooding [her] inbox with angry emails” because I sent two emails in which I was a bit upset. *I* was the one who was wrong for even bringing the ice cream into this hostile environment because I should have known that “the Women’s Resource Center is not about ice cream it is about activism.” *I* am wrong and evil and apparently against activism because I don’t believe that vandalism is activism. And it is unbelievable and unfathomable that I would be at all upset when people make me look like an ass to a company that gives ME thousands of dollars worth of free stuff. Whatever. WHATEVER!