The Real Exercise of Free Speech

If you think the Koch Brothers are morally reprehensible, you might want to avoid buying products like Angel Soft, Soft ‘n Gentle, or Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Dixie plates and cups, or napkins made by Mardi Gras, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, or Zee. Those are all products made by Georgia-Pacific, which is owned by Koch Industries. If you buy those products, you are putting money in the hands of the Koch Brothers that they will use to fund your political enemies.

Does anyone seriously think there would be something morally questionable about avoiding those products for political reasons? Would anyone argue that avoiding those products amounted to a restriction of the Koch Brothers’ First Amendment rights? Would anyone be taken seriously if they stated that my refusal to buy Brawny paper towels was a form of intolerance?

So, why are so many people questioning the threatened boycott of Firefox by people who don’t want to do business with a company whose CEO donated money to support the passage of Proposition 8?

Are we compelled to buy products from companies that are led by people we think are morally reprehensible? If we raise awareness of the political views of CEOs and ask people to not buy their companies’ products are we restricting free speech or utilizing it?

[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at