Here’s a list of stupid things that I do out of principle.
1. Boycott Sony. Sony mixes evil and stupid together in a way that astounds me when I’m not retching from it.
No matter what you think of the nature of online file-sharing, you have to agree that Sony’s steps in combating it have gone past the draconian and into the actively spiteful. Sony’s attorneys have advanced the argument, in court, that copying a music file to your computer, WITHOUT distributing it, is the same as stealing it. Sony surreptitiously installed rootkits on personal computers which secretly transmitted data back to the company, then brazenly refused to apologize when caught (“most people don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?”). And Sony has been stodgily maintaining useless proprietary hardware for years.
This is probably the least stupid item of the three. There’s nothing dumb about refusing to give money to an evil corporation that makes garbage products. And furthermore, it seems to have worked: Sony’s projecting a $2,920,000,000 loss for the current fiscal year. But Sony’s a really big company, and my lone boycott’s not going to change their ways. It still counts.
2. Boycott Kellogg’s. This is a recent one, and I had to polish off a box of Club crackers in the pantry before I could start this one. But ever since Kellogg’s severed their sponsorship deal with Michael Phelps (after pictures of him smoking pot surfaced in tabloids), I’ve decided that Kellogg’s isn’t getting my money.
First off, what Seth said:
Second, and I’m paraphrasing Radley Balko here, the most successful human swimmer in the history of the Olympics smokes pot. Rational people, on hearing this, would re-examine their convictions about drug use (“hmm – I guess marijuana isn’t the career-killing, brain-wrecking, body-shattering toxin I was led to believe”). Irrational people would cling to their fervently held myths. They would insist on punishing the transgressor, because his misbehavior might “set a bad example,” inspiring millions of children to smoke pot and then turn into disgusting slobs, even though the very example Phelps sets means that that ain’t so.
(Now, in spite of my better judgment, I have faith in the attitudes of most educated Americans. Since about forty percent of Americans have tried pot, I suspect most of us know that the War on Weed is ridiculous. Even if people don’t believe that genuinely harmless behavior should be made legal and left alone, they think of pot as laughable and goofy, not poisonous and life-ending. Oh, those potheads. But there’s still a significant, shrill minority that wants to ruin the lives of people who consume a drug that’s less harmful than alcohol. And those are the idiots to whom Kellogg’s catered by publicly shaming Phelps. So that’s why they won’t see another dollar of mine)
Now, this boycott is demonstrably stupid. Unlike Sony, Kellogg’s has a workable business model – no one’s going to go bankrupt making salty snacks for Americans. But I’m sticking with this one, too.
3. Refuse to Show ID for Allergy Meds. This is the dumbest of the three, and probably the stupidest thing I do.
Last week, I tried to fill a scrip for Allegra-D that my doctor had written for me. The tech made some phone calls, double-checked my insurance information in confusion, and then called over the pharmacist to talk to the insurer. They chatted on the phone for a bit.
“Your insurer’s no longer covering it,” he finally told me. “They recommend getting the over-the-counter equivalent.”
I can get the generic equivalent of Allegra-D at any pharmacy in the U.S. It will be just as potent as the stuff I could (up until recently) get on prescription. And it’ll only cost a little more than I would have spent on a health insurance co-pay. All I need to do is get a little card from the rows of drug meds, walk to the pharmacist counter, and exchange the card for a bottle of Sudafed or Claritin-D. After presenting my driver’s license.
I won’t do it.
You used to be able to buy Claritin-D without showing a government photo ID, if you recall, but the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 changed that. Because pseudoephedrine – a powerful decongestant – can be used to cook up some crank, you now have to present ID when buying it. This will supposedly diminish meth production (even though it hasn’t).
This shouldn’t bother me, right? After all, I’m not a drug dealer, and I have no guilty intentions.
First off, that’s a variation of “if you’re not guilty, you don’t have anything to hide,” a disgusting maxim that’s been used to justify every invasion of privacy from Octavius’s triumvirate to the PATRIOT Act. And second, it’s not even true. You can get arrested and convicted for buying large quantities of cold medication, period, full stop. Not for manufacturing meth. Not for intent to distribute. Simply for owning large amounts of cold meds. William Fousse was sentenced to a year of probation for such a crime. A man who bought up to the legal ration of allergy meds in a month was arrested when he bought some for his child. This is not paranoia; this has already happened to real human beings.
This is a useless law that will not produce results, and with which compliance merely facilitates a charade. I will have nothing to do with it.
Now here’s why this boycott of mine is stupid.
Go back to the top of #3 and read the beginning again. I was going to a pharmacy to fill a scrip for Allegra-D. In order to get that prescription at co-pay cost (instead of $156, and what does it say of American health care that I’d only be paying one-fourth of that if I had health insurance?), I had to present my insurance information. The pharmacist had to verify this with the insurance company, creating a record of my name, my home address, my date of birth, my employer, etc.
In other words, I had no problem giving the pharmacist an ID to fill out a prescription. But I have irreconcilable problems giving the pharmacist an ID to buy over-the-counter meds.
I know this is a rather silly little contradiction. I know that my diminishing stockpile of pre-2006 pseudoephedrine and my stubborn refusal to take care of my allergies won’t change the law. It won’t make things harder on Pfizer, or the FDA, or the DEA. I’ll live a stuffier and more inconvenient life until I die, or the law changes, or pseudoephedrine is banned outright.
That’s what principle makes me do.