Whole Foods Boycott, Free Speech in Modern America

I am really concerned by the movement to boycott Whole Foods because of a political position taken by the CEO in an editorial to the Wall Street Journal.  In the editorial, CEO John Mackey expresses his fear of the proposals from Washington, and shares with the readers what Whole Foods has done regarding health care for its employees and urges some common sense reforms to the system, some of which are in the proposal.

Aghast that Whole Foods is a business operation, the upper middle class liberals took to the Internet to punish this company for its CEO being proud of what they did in the company and sharing the experience with the readers of the Wall Street Journal.

Now, Health Care Reform is a pressing issue in America, and has dominated the news and the political cycle for this summer.  Mr. Mackey expressed his opinions and experiences.  He hasn’t used his position at Whole Foods to affect the political debate, he isn’t having the stores he runs promote his agenda.  He, as a private citizen with some knowledge of health care costs as a major employer wrote a well thought out, intelligent editorial, one that some of his customers might disagree with.

As a result, they are calling for his head and a boycott of the firm, putting his livelihood in jeopardy because he disagree with them on a political issue.  Now, this isn’t government censorship directly, but given how much of corporate capital is controlled by pension funds for public employees, for example, that could vote their shares to endanger his job, there is just a wee bit of potential government censorship here.  More importantly, Americans should all be discussing this issue and debating it, and by attacking Whole Foods for the CEO disagreeing with them, it is simply shutting down debate.

If Whole Foods was endorsing his position and broadcasting it in the stores, fine, you have a cause.  But to attack a business because of the CEO’s personal politics, that seems like a way to simple stifle debate in America.  If Whole Foods is neutral, but Mr. Mackey takes a position, Whole Foods should be left alone, and Mr. Mackey should be able to express a position without people going after his livelihood.

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