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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Marc Emery and Ezra Levant are calling for boycotts. Should you join them?

Marc Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and #3 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100, is calling for a boycott of breakfast cereal maker Kellogg for dropping its sponsorship of 14-time gold medal-winning Olympian Michael Phelps.

Kellogg dropped its sponsorship of Phelps after the swimmer was photographed smoking marijuana. A company representative with Kellogg said Phelp's use of marijuana is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

Emery, a marijuana legalization advocate, thinks this decision is “ignorant and prejudicial” and wants marijuana smokers everywhere to boycott Kellogg products.

Ezra Levant, author, journalist, blogger and #1 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100, is calling for a boycott of the University of Calgary. Levant wants U of C alumni to stop donating to the university until it apologizes to the campus pro-lifers who have been threatened with trespassing charges for actions related to displaying graphic images of aborted foetuses.

Western Standard editor Peter Jaworski writes:

Our former publisher, Ezra Levant, has issued a call for alumni of the University of Calgary to stop sending money to their alma mater until the University issues a public apology for charging Campus Pro-Life members with trespassing. The students were charged with trespassing on the property of the school where they are registered.

Boycotts allow consumers to peacefully, and sometimes effectively, express their values with their purchasing decisions. Instead of calling on the government to regulate corporate behaviour, consumers can flex their muscle and vote with their dollars.

But while all peaceful boycotts are consistent with basic libertarian non-aggression principles, not all boycotts are worth joining, of course.

While it makes sense for Emery to use his influence with millions of marijuana smokers to punish Kellogg, I won’t join his boycott. Emery no doubt believes the decision to drop Phelps as a spokesperson further marginalizes marijuana users and reinforces a cultural prejudice against marijuana users that helps to maintain prohibition.

He’s right, but Kellogg has no obligation to treat marijuana users fairly. Had Kellogg actively and directly supported marijuana prohibition, I would join the boycott, as prohibition is not only a costly and bloody public policy failure, but it undermines a rational and Western approach to justice and individual rights. Choosing not to be associated with those who smoke marijuana is not the same as supporting prohibition, however.

Furthermore, creating a vibrant conservative culture demands that values like temperance are enforced through social pressure like that being exercised by Kellogg. (So-called conservatives who support prohibition are doing nothing to create a conservative culture and are instead helping to weaken civil society by strengthening and expanding state power.) If it’s important to create a socially conservative culture within the libertarian movement, and one day a libertarian society, Emery’s boycott should not be supported.

That being written, the dominant culture in a free society is the product of a never-ending battle of ideas, and Emery has every right to defend the drug culture in this battle. May the best ideas win...and win without the aid of the state, the dreaded “foreign object” in this intellectual Battle Royale.

As for Levant’s call to boycott the University of Calgary, I’m more inclined to jump on board.

The basic libertarian position here -- although I’m not entirely certain about this -- is that a university that receives public money has some obligation to allow a broad representation of ideas on campus, even if these ideas dissent from those of the faculty. If you want to exclude pro-lifers and pro-life exhibits, for instance, start a private university and do what you want.

Even if this isn’t a correct assumption and even if public universities have the right to pursue whatever standards they want for campus life, you would still have to question the specific exclusion of pro-life groups. Wouldn’t you?

I think so, but some questions still nag at me.

First, the aborted foetus images are disgusting. That’s the whole point. Campus Pro-Life refuses to sanitize the abortion debate for the benefit of squeamish pro-choicers. But how far should social conservatives be allowed to go with these images? The infamous pro-life, anti-homosexual activist Bill Whatcott delivers pamphlets to residential mailboxes with images of anal and genital warts to make his case against homosexuality. Should these images be allowed to be displayed in public areas on campus beside a Free Tibet display, for instance?

And if this really is an issue of unfettered free speech and expression, should white supremacist students be allowed to set up a membership table? How much independence should a public university be given to make this judgement?

What about a university policy that forbids all campus groups from displaying material in common areas? If the policy was applied consistently, would this be a free speech and expression issue? Is it unreasonable for a university to keep political discussions to the classroom, a moderated environment, to avoid conflicts on campus?

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I visited the Stanford and Berkeley campuses. Berkeley is hotbed of political activism with displays, pamphleteering and postings for every left-of-centre cause you can imagine. Stanford, however, restricts student activism to a tiny location on campus where information is neatly displayed and moderated for balance and tone.

For what it’s worth, Stanford is a private university and Berkeley is public.

Freedom of speech and expression is only an extension of property rights. You have jurisdiction and authority over the things you own, whether it’s a magazine or an apartment building or a university. The presence of public money and public property makes ownership ambiguous and invites government meddling to ensure that the so-called public interest is being protected. This situation should always be avoided.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on February 8, 2009 | Permalink


*tumbleweed* *blowing dust*

You people are worthless. If only Frito-Lay or some other potato chip company had withdrawn its sponsorship deal with Phelps. Then where would you get your munchies?

I just bought two boxes of Frosted Flakes, so I stand by Kellogg's actions against this druggie loser. If only I could support Colt and Ruger against them too.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-02-08 8:38:22 PM

"Kellogg dropped its sponsorship of Phelps ".

Kelloggs probably saw a easy way out of a multi million dollar contract. With the country in hard times and people cutting back, they are sure to lose sales to no name brands. Unless there was a picture of Phelps sucking a bong on the back of a corn flakes box I doubt if it would have affected their business. His apology should have been enough.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-02-08 8:44:01 PM

Re: The Prince of Pot calls for a boycott against Kelloggs for choosing to withdraw product endorsement with Olympic gold medal winner Mr Phelps.. last year His Majesty called for a boycott of the US Candy giant HERSHEYS ( tm ) because that company decided to sue a convicted drug felon for copyright infringement after said felon :" knocked off" aka pirated, unfairly copied, with moot changes the designs of _several different HERSHEY TM candy wrappers in order to package the drugged confections said felon was jailed for..

HERSHEY took deep offense that criminal code style drugged candy was being marketed in the USA in packages that were minutely similar to their world famous child oriented drug free chocolate candy products.. His majesty decided unto himself that HERSHEY just shouldn't do this to an irresponsible member of the cannabis community and called for a boycott of all HERSHEY products. Some wipeheads heard, but few wipeheads heeded - but meanwhile ..back to the struggle

Some months later, after buying a convenience store in the slums of Vancouver, his majesty saw fit to stock HERSHEYS products in violation of his own boycott, citing" They were profitable items " and that " the people would buy them elsewhere" if his store didn't offer HERSHEY products.

So much for activism at the cash register.

Now his Majesty is calling for a boycott on Kelloggs products.

Good Luck there Mr. Credibility 2009- We buy Kelloggs for whats inside the box, not for the image of an Olympic swimming champion swimmer on the front of the box. Where were you when " Tony the Tiger " of Kelloggs Frosted Flakes was on the endangered species list??

Suggestion: If a boycott is in order it would be better directed at the proper politically sensitive material: and that is WATER..

as water is what the swimmer utilizes to become a swimming champion, and it was water in that bong that swimmer was abusing to injest a controlled substance.. its all water abuse..

So show your support for a disgraced olympic swimming gold medal winner by boycotting WATER..don't drink, cook with, wash in or use water ( H2O ) in your bong until the Kellogg Empire falls... eat Lucky Charms, eat Shreaded Wheat- but for Libertys' sake - don't use water to wash your cereal bowl,.. use beer.... And here's hoping The Prince of Pot, # 003 WS Liberty heavy hitter will stop selling bottled water in his wipehead themed convenience store ...

If it rains, it can only mean God loves Kelloggs more than Marc Emery..if that happens, next boycott, will be .........Heaven..

Posted by: 419 | 2009-02-08 9:14:52 PM

What a collosal loser this Emery clown is. He and Phelps so obviously deserve each other.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-02-08 9:14:56 PM

Posted by: 419
Too funny but food for thought.

:We buy Kelloggs for whats inside the box:.

Last box I bought had about 40% air.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-02-08 10:22:37 PM

When the gay community boycotted orange juice because of Anita Bryant, it had quite an impact on sales.

I think Kelloggs is between a rock and a hard place. Their image has always been squeaky clean. It would be hard to keep a tarnished spokesman on board. Phelps was a gamble from the start. Nobody knew anything about him until last year, other than swim fans.

I have, on occasion, boycotted certain products, but not on the whim of a special interest group.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-08 10:36:07 PM

Guys, you really need an ignore user button for this software. Please, for goodness sakes. The trolls are so predictable. Has Shane shown up yet?

Posted by: The Watcher | 2009-02-08 11:54:22 PM


1. I won't question your assessment of Marc Emery's proposed boycott as it is basically on the money. Though we are on opposite sides of the legalization struggle, I do realize that most who advocate the legalization of drugs do so because they feel that it would result in lower overall crime, not because they think drug use is desirable. Alcohol is legal, too, but that doesn't mean most companies would want to plaster their products with photos of a wino.

2. Granted, the photos are disgusting. But people who oppose displaying them should ask themselves WHY they find the photos so disgusting. Perhaps they're getting mad at the wrong people. In any case, graphic displays are no strangers on universities if they're for politically fashionable causes. Falun Gong torture victims, Iraqi war dead, clubbed seals, famine victims; you name it. And we both know that displays depicting any of these events would NOT have been removed.

A policy of forbidding the posting of bills from common areas would be fair if it were consistently applied. Recent campus history, however, has told us the policies are anything but consistent. This is a recurring theme at several prominent schools; the bias is blatant and unrepentant, coming from supposedly educated and enlightened people (the same sort of highbrowed elite that also brought us Auschwitz).

Universities should indeed do more to see that its students behave. Before the 1960s, they were considered elite academies, and students were expected to behave. Then in the Sixties they became a refuge for draft dodgers and workplace dodgers and everything went to hell. In my experience a 21-year-old university student is less mature than a 21-year-old already in the workforce, and some of the wild parties and drunken rampages on campus can be downright spine-quaking. (Chucking beer bottles at police? Please--have some lead.) But the policies should be fairly and consistently applied, and the open exchange of ideas--the whole point of universities--should be regulated as little as possible.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 7:11:32 AM

Do you have anything to contribute other than snide remarks, Watcher?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 7:12:17 AM

Drug dealers aren't exactly the most powerful economic block. They invest their profits, limited though they may be, back into their products. Ergo, there is no economic growth or incentive for development. Stagnation. It does, however, make them irritable, paranoid and deluded - and the drugs don't help, contrary to what they say.

I say that my solution to the drug trade is unrestricted vigilante justice aided by castle laws. That would clear out the druggies.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-02-09 8:18:17 AM


Your question about where (or if) a line should be drawn in the UofC case is a good one. To add another hypothetical (one I used on this blog before when the anti-abortion display at UofC was in the news), should a pro-nudist group be allowed to display posters of naked people on campus to advertise their cause? Should they be allowed to do it near the day care centre on campus? If not, then the question is one of competing interests, and it can be reasonable to restrict protesters.

I have no doubt that anti-abortion activists should be allowed to have some posters up on campus, but that does not mean that any images, no matter how graphic, must be allowed. If there is a reasonable limit on how graphic images can be, students who refuse to comply can and should be prosecuted. For that reason, I would not join the boycott.

With Kellogg's I would be more likely to join the boycott. They did not drop Phelps after his DUI (or DWI or whatever they call "drunk driving" these days). But of the two indiscretions, the DUI is clearly the more serious. So the Kellogg's position is really saying that smoking pot at a party is worse than drinking and driving. That is a message worth rejecting.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-02-09 8:21:57 AM

I don't eat cereal because of the high carb content and the health disaster it engenders. I could care less about Phelps smoking pot. Frankly, if you can win a gold medal stoned I am even more impressed.

Posted by: Brian Mallard | 2009-02-09 8:37:38 AM

The Prince of Pot along with his co accused are in court today, boycotting breakfast cereal is the least of his troubles.

Accurate imagery of true life abortion is one of those "things" polite society doesn't want to look at or think about, but they are more than glad to play the enabler and fund the termination/killing/cull of human infants --

Pro Life activist energy makes these images readily available to people for the purposes of realization of what it is they are enabling - raises questions that require constant exploration.

How boycotting breakfast cereal because of perceived insults to the Wipehead community and boycotting abortion imagery hoisters because they are pointing out body counts in our midst gets the same airtime is beyond curious..it's downright kookie

onward cool society- to the cliffs and thus the fast way down to the jagged rocks below

Posted by: 419 | 2009-02-09 9:35:30 AM

Brian- Carbs are good for you. Don't get sucked into the Atkins fad. A lot of big strong Irishmen survived on potatoes their entire lives.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-09 9:38:57 AM

Second that, dp. Carbs provide more energy for longer than protein or sugar. All three are important to to completely skip over carbs is unwise. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is not to eat less but exercise more.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 10:15:35 AM

keep it off is not to eat less but exercise more.

This is so very true. The building I work in is only 4 stories but whenever the elevator is down for maintenance or repair you would think it was the end of the world and the whining amongst staff is beyond belief. They actually have to use the stairs. The puffing and panting as they ascend makes me wish we had a medic on every level...just in case. If I had my way I would get rid of the elevator altogether and force a bit of exercise but the building would no longer be handicap compliant.Laws against that now. These same people probably go home, drop on the couch and watch TV. I think i'm off thread here but your last two words rang a loud bell.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-02-09 10:05:25 PM

peterj- I actually had a heart to heart last night with someone who is exercising too much. Not a common occurrence these days.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-09 10:24:53 PM

Posted by: dp
Not sure I understand.Was this about the perils of too much of a good thing or the fact that lard ass politicians that never work a day in their lives all seem to live forever ??

Posted by: peterj | 2009-02-09 10:57:39 PM

It is possible to overtax joints and do permanent harm...for instance, I have a chronically inflamed left shoulder. On bad days I can't even raise my arm over my head. Not sure why but it might have been those few months I took up archery.

I favour low-impact exercise like hiking on earth (as opposed to hard pavement). Haven't had much chance to do it lately what with snow up to our thighs. Post-holing through metre-deep snow may be good exercise but it's not much fun. Plus this snow is unusual for us and we don't get enough to justify me buying a pair of showshoes.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 11:11:59 PM

Graphic pictures are a bad thing? Try to get the message across with just words. It will be far less effective.
The university (whether private or public) is supposed to be a community of scholars. If honest debate is disallowed the institution ceases to educate and instead concentrates on indoctrination. There is an argument for setting aside specific places for displays and protests. those who attempt to shut down a protest through physical action should themselves be stopped by the campus police. The only answer for an argument is a better argument.

Posted by: DML | 2009-02-10 12:53:35 AM

DP Please take a some time and read the book Good Calories Bad Calories before you simply trot out the BS that our policized nutrition industry has put forward. Carbs, particularly refined sugars and white flour, are the principal cause of the obesity epidemic that plagues Western Society and our health care system in particular. I won't get into the blood chemistry that occurs with a predominate carb diet but suffice to say it is and has been demonstrably a health disaster.

Posted by: Brian Mallard | 2009-02-10 8:53:56 AM

Actually, Brian, the traditional American diet has always been very high in carbs. Look at the typical farmer's breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, bread. The principal cause of the obesity epidemic is not carbs but lack of exercise.

In 1900 nine in ten Americans lived on a farm, meaning many hours per day of hard physical labour. Plenty of opportunity to burn off those carbs. Of course today's couch potatoes can't eat like a farmer and still stay thin--unless, of course, they exercise. Carbs are carbs, and you can use up as much or as little of the surplus as you wish.

If you want to stay informed, my dear fellow, I suggest you follow history, common sense, and established health and medical texts. Stay away from the exposés, the scandal-fads, and the self-righteous and declamatory language. You'll sound more like an educated man and less like a zealot. Those books don't exist for any reason but to make the authors money.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-10 9:50:42 AM

But hasn't the traditional American diet made Americans fat, Shane?

I'm no expert, but the only diet I've ever tried that has worked is a low carb one.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-02-10 10:00:17 AM

No, Brian, the obesity epidemic was caused by the loss of access to calorie burning activities. Kids don't walk anywhere, any more. If there's any single identifiable cause for this epidemic, it's right in front of you.

People have been eating carbs for hundreds of thousands of years. Southeast-Asian people have the highest carb weighted diets, and look how slim they are. Even refined sugars get a bad rap. You need to look at that twinky a little closer. It's full of fat and oils. While the carbs are doing their job, the palm oil is heading straight to your ass.

Now that China is adopting a high protein, high fat diet, they're starting down the path of the obesity epidemic.

By the way, books such as you mentioned are part of the problem. I read Atkin's book in 1977. I've gotten sucked into every fad since. When I was a competing athlete, I suffered from anemia for years, because I believed beef was evil. I ate so much chicken, I noticed I had down growing on my back. The day I quit competition, I bought a big bag of cookies.

Without white flour, society would never have advanced to today's levels. The ability to store energy this way allowed our ancestors to make the great migration. And you can never, ever, eat too many potatoes. Yes, there is a "e" in potatoe.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-10 10:06:36 AM

Shane- Did you read my mind, or was it vice versa?

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-10 10:11:59 AM

Why would anyone want to burn calories? Eat less. Eat fewer carbs. It's a better plan than pointless exercise.

It's analagous to letting your car idle overnight to burn excess fuel.

It's one thing to train to box, or to enjoy a hike in nature -- but running maniacly on a tread mill to burn off calories you didn't need in the first place seems silly.

But weren't we suppose to be talking about marijuana and abortion?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-02-10 10:29:48 AM

Matthew- In a sense, the American diet has made us fat. That's because we have an abundance of food, of every variety.

Low carb diets do work, if you want to rely on diets to lose weight. They work because protein tends to make you feel full quicker than carbs. If you eat more protein, you end up eating fewer calories. Remember that word, calories?

Eat less food, and you'll lose weight.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-10 10:36:37 AM

Hate to be a stickler, but while there is an "e" in plural potatoes, there is no such letter in a singular potato.

Regarding U of C, the administration went way overboard: issuing police citations door to door days afterwards to people affiliated with the protests, whether they were responsible for the graphic images or not. This was not simply a matter of campus security intervening in a timely manner to preserve the peace, it was an act of petty partisan vengeance.

Posted by: Captain Obvious | 2009-03-02 7:10:01 PM

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