You Have The Right To Remain Silent
We certainly live in interesting times, don’t we?
Isn’t “May you live in interesting times” an ancient curse?
Lately, it’s been very interesting watching entrepreneurs of all stripes coming out for and against the political situation here in the United States and the effect of citizen action, amplified by social media.
From my perspective, and maybe this is an outdated perspective, you stayed out of conversations on politics (and religion) when you were in business (also, supposedly, at the dinner table). As a business person, I just want to provide services to you in exchange for money.
I don’t care if you’re black, white, red, puce, old, young, middle-aged or if you are this gender or that gender. It doesn’t matter to me; I just want to provide goods and services to you in exchange for cash. I’m a “trader”.
Business should be color, gender, politics blind, at least in my view. A smart business person who is looking for customers can’t really afford to say something that will alienate a huge chunk of business. Why would you?
This happened to Oprah. Back in 2008, when she came out forcefully for candidate Obama at the time, her ratings immediately dropped because everybody who was not an Obama supporter decided not going to watch her anymore.
So as a business person, my tendency is to stay out of political debates because I want the largest possible audience for my product or service. I don’t want to tick anyone off because that person could be a potential customer.
If you do have a strongly held belief, is there a need to shout it from the rooftops? Why not just refuse service? You know the old saying “we have the right to refuse service to anyone”. Like those bakers who refused to do a cake for a gay couple. If they refused to make a cake, it’s their business. They should be able to reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. They should not be forced to trade.
Do we have to go back into the original conversation on trade, what trade is all about? It’s a mutual contract between consenting parties. If either party does not consent, then the deal does not happen. No one should have to force anyone into a deal they do not wish to make.
All businesses reserve the right to refuse service. I think most people can agree to this. Customers can always go to another business which will trade with them.
Lately what’s happening politically is that because of the Trump administration’s recent policies a lot of people feel like they must speak up. A lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of startup founders feel like they must speak up and make a stand.
So, they’ll speak out against a policy. They won’t quietly simply refuse service to some, they will come out with a public statement on that policy. If you ask me, it’s a huge mistake to do something like that, but if that’s what they want to do then let them do that. This is just my opinion.
As I mentioned earlier, if you ask me, as a business person or a startup entrepreneur, can I really afford to alienate a possibly huge chunk of possible customers?
Even if I’m a guy just looking for a job, would it help me to have strong opinions all over my public Facebook stream or LinkedIn communications?
For example, let’s say you’re looking for a job but you’re also a big Bernie Sanders supporter of his brand of socialism. You keep tweeting and Facebook posting on socialism and how great it would be if we just had more of it. You’re very passionate about your political beliefs but you’re also looking for a job.
If you look at the state of politics today, roughly half of the country voted against your political beliefs, and roughly half agreed with you. Are you willing to give up on getting a job from the half of the country which may disagree with your beliefs, or simply prefers not to discuss them publicly? I’d venture that not only are you up against those you disagree with (you would probably not take a job with them anyway) but you are also up against those companies who feel that a passionate expression of your political stand, day in and day out, is not a fit for their company. This may conceivably reduce your job possibilities by 66%.
As an entrepreneur, how many customers are you willing to lose because of your opinion one way or another politically? If you’re willing to take that risk and lose all those customers, that’s your prerogative. Go ahead and do it.
What’s bothering me recently though it used to be OK to say nothing about politics. It used to be OK to remain silent. I always thought that in polite, public discourse, you had the right to remain silent about your political leanings. You had the right to step out of the conversation and say that you don’t want to be political.
However, we now seem to be getting into these interesting times where you no longer seem to have the right to remain silent. Where we are, all being pressured to have a political opinion.
If you don’t say anything, you risk being slammed for staying silent, which I find absolutely ridiculous. No one should be forced to have to give an opinion, but I think that’s what’s happening to several people is that they don’t want to get involved in politics but they’re being dragged into it by these activists who are saying “you must tell me which side you’re on, because I want to know if I need to boycott you!” and if you don’t make a stand one way or another, you are slammed for saying nothing.
If you ask me this is gone completely out of hand. We should all just calm down. We all need to be OK with not caring what your political leanings are. That you have the right to remain silent if you wish to.
If you don’t want to sell me services, I will go to somebody else. I’m not going to force you to sell me your services. Similarly, the business owner should not have to be forced to say anything about which side they may be on.
Everyone has the right to remain silent about these issues. They shouldn’t need to make a public statement about their beliefs if they don’t want to.
As a business over owner I implore you as a customer I implore you. Let’s go back to allowing people to remain silent on issues. If someone’s going to say nothing about something. Don’t assume that they’re automatically not on your side and don’t be so aggressive when it comes to allowing people to have their own opinions
This is one of the great things about America. Everyone can agree to disagree. If I disagree with you, that’s great. There’s plenty of countries where disagreement is not allowed. I’m assuming we don’t want to be one of those countries where disagreement is not allowed right. We have a plethora of different kinds of opinions and if people choose to keep their opinions to themselves they should be allowed to.
Everyone has the right to remain silent.