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I Got Donald Rumsfeld’s App

Those words above?  The title?  I never thought I’d write them.

I mean, sure I saw the Unknown Known.  But that’s not the same thing.  Movie about vs. app created by.  Not the same thing at all.

But there was MY finger hovering over that “get” button on the app store.  Free solitaire app.  I mean, that’s not bad, right?  Taking someone’s free solitaire app.

Oh… did you not know that Donald Rumsfeld made his own solitaire app?

WTF, right?

So I downloaded it, feeling 20 kinds of wrong.  Because it played into a conversation I had with my cousin a few weeks ago.  We were talking about a certain author that I will not read because he is living.  Therefore buying his books means giving him money, and giving him money means he lives to see another day and spout his homophobic views.  Whereas I used to teach Knut Hamsun, mostly because it is impossible to teach modernism or flawed heroes and not talk about Hamsun.  But I always kicked off the discussion pointing out that people were allowed to opt out.  Not everyone feels comfortable reading his work.

Where was my line, she wanted to know.  It wasn’t just living or dead, though that plays a role in how I feel about supporting someone’s work.  Still, there are living people’s work that I support even though I don’t agree with a lot of their thoughts, and dead people’s work that I’ll never touch.  It is messier than that.  It’s a case-by-case basis.

Somehow a free app by Donald Rumsfeld passed muster.  In-app purchases, never.  (They’re turned off on the phone.)  Playing it for a few hours before deleting.  I guess?  Why a question mark?  Because I felt weird about playing the app.

Where do you stand on supporting or not supporting an artist (use that in the loosest sense of the word to apply to anyone who makes anything) that you disagree with?  What about one that preaches hate or violence?


1 a { 02.02.16 at 8:10 am }

I have mixed feelings on this. It’s hard for me to spend money on things coming from someone who has done something egregious. But on the other hand, if I stop buying things because of the actions of people within the company, I’ll be living an even more ascetic lifestyle. I just read something about Nestlé and horrible child labor practices in Ivory Coast. Now I feel conflicted about the Valentine’s treats I just bought.

One thing I do follow through on, though, is minimizing patronage of restaurants and products coming from billionaires who go on news shows and whine about how they can’t afford to live (ok, slight exaggeration) when they have to pay things like taxes and employee insurance. So I won’t buy a Cisco router or eat at Hardee’s. If you can’t support your country or your employees, I have no time for you.

2 Charlotte { 02.02.16 at 9:35 am }

Hmmm. I know I do this. I am at a loss for specific examples right now, but definitely if I’m not in support of a cause I won’t participate. I even go so far as to say that if I dislike a person who is selling Girl Scout cookies, for example, then I will give my purchase to someone else selling them. When we were moving we had estimates done for movers, and the first guy who came out was a complete ass. And that’s being kind. So even if I wanted to use that company I wouldn’t have because I wouldn’t give that guy the commission.
But then there are other things that I pick and choose on. Remember a couple years back there was some uproar over Chickfila? And people were boycotting the resturants even though they have the best chicken and milkshakes of any fast food out there? The political nonsense didn’t stop me from going there. If the issue or person is so far up the chain that it’s not directly affecting me, I tend to ignore it and move on. Like A said above, you can’t stop patronizing every place that has an employee do something you don’t agree with.

3 Geochick { 02.02.16 at 10:05 am }

First question, why does he have an app?

….and never mind, I don’t have any other questions.

That’s just weird.

4 Chris { 02.02.16 at 12:56 pm }

I definitely will vote with my dollars on a political issue. I still won’t eat at Chik Filet. And in college I boycotted Carl’s Jr even though it was the only fast food restaurant near campus!

5 Ana { 02.02.16 at 1:04 pm }

I try to vote with my dollars but I admit I’m far from perfect. I try really hard not to buy child-labor chocolate (its not even good!) but then its the night before Halloween and I’m running to the drug store filling my basket. I only eat there once a year (if that) but man ChickFilA is GOOD.
I have no interest in a free solitaire app. I’m trying to think of something Donald Rumsfeld would create that I would want so much that I’d lower my principles.
More generally, though, its easy to say you are sticking to your principles when you don’t care much about the product—how many of us would really truly give up our favorite products cold turkey upon hearing of some unethical practice by the CEO?

6 Jill A. { 02.02.16 at 4:41 pm }

Interesting discussion, Mel! For the most part, I don’t know and don’t care about an artist’s or writer’s beliefs or politics. Not interested. There are somethings I care about – I won’t cross a picket line and I have done my tiny part for various boycotts. But particularly with my entertainment, I don’t care about the creator’s opinions. I care about mine.

7 Beth { 02.02.16 at 5:03 pm }

I’m a big boycotter so I would have passed on the app, but I admit I’m also sometimes behind on my research so I’m sure I have inadvertently supported something I wouldn’t approve of.

8 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.02.16 at 5:55 pm }

I think at one time I would have been able to be absolute about this; I remember my parents saying they wouldn’t see so-and-so’s movie because of a certain stance, and for awhile I thought similarly. But lately I can see that people who hold beliefs different than mine aren’t necessarily bad; pretty much everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing.

Which makes my own line verrry fuzzy.

9 Mali { 02.02.16 at 10:15 pm }

I do think about this. I know I can never be completely principled, but I try to make ethical choices. I was a one-woman boycott of Starbucks when it arrived in Wellington, and put my favourite cafe out of business. There are companies and industries I would never work for, no matter how much money they might pay me, and I am a little surprised when I see and know others who do work for them. And when I was an international marketing manager, there was at least one country that my manager and I decided we wouldn’t even attempt to penetrate.

Books and opinions are, I think, a little different, because I want to be informed, and I think I should be exposed to uncomfortable ideas, even if only to be able to develop my own views further, and formulate opposing views. I’d much rather not give money to those people though. There are films from directors or actors or authors, I will not pay to see, and books I will not buy.

I think Ana made a good point though – it’s easy for me to stick to my principles when I don’t care much about a product or service or opportunity. Like Beth, I’m sure I have inadvertently supported something I would prefer not to.

10 torthuil { 02.02.16 at 11:08 pm }

Hmmm. There are companies I avoid, but there has to be something about them that really bothers me. I doubt I’d boycott just because some ceo or employee said something dumb. Maybe I’m jaded; it feels these days like broadcasting one’s dumb thoughts to the world is what everyone does and I can’t make myself care. also I find it makes more sense to support individual / company because they are doing something I like vs don’t like. Again goes back to being tired and jaded: do I really want need a list of everything that bothers me?

11 Junebug { 02.04.16 at 9:45 pm }

I do not buy books that often so when I do I prefer to buy science fiction books written by women, preferably women of color. I was at an independent bookstore actually prepared to purchase two books and I told the employee what I was looking for and he kept pointing out books written by men and I finally said, if I am going to spend money I want to support women in this genre and he indicated he understood and then said, “well there just aren’t a lot of science fiction books written by women.” The thing is there are, not as many as men, but there are. And even if there weren’t, he was kind of proving my point.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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