[Oclug] [OT] City of Ottawa No Sweat Website and Petition
kevinmcl at magma.ca
Sun Sep 11 01:09:40 EDT 2005
On Saturday 10 September 2005 17:05, Sean Hammond wrote:
> I apologise for the hideously off-topic post (but I did mark it), but
> could anyone who would like to please visit:
> And sign the online petition.
> This is the finished version of a website I've been working on. Also I
> think one or two people on this list who helped me with the code said
> they'd be interested to see the final version.
I went to the site. Of course, I did not sign the petition. Instead, I
followed some of the links that they featured to 'make their case'.
Specifically, on the right-hand side, under "Links:" I clicked:
"Behind the Label".
At the top of the resulting page was a mildly interesting article -- not
an expose[e] but rather a compiling of other people's expose[e]s of
that fiendish company, American Apparel. Below that was a half mile
of drivel by some sub-human troll-bot calling itself "kingfelix"... then
the interesting posts began to appear. (I cynically assume that the
entire purpose of the kingfelix posts was to discourage inquiring
minds from reaching the thoughtful posts below...)
I came away with the feeling that the company is probably a decent
employer, and the unionizers are a bunch of sleazebags, and that it
was a tactical error to include that "Behind the Label" link on your
web site, because at least _some_ people will read past the opening
article and see its premises thoroughly debunked by a string of
credible replies and probing questions --- that consistently and
tellingly go unanswered.
I wonder if the link won't mysteriously vanish, or point to a different
site the next time I look, now that I've mentioned it doesn't necessarily
support the agenda of your site.... :-)
As for the overall premise of your site, I do acknowledge that there
are some horror stories from all over the world about people being
coerced into horrible working conditions. That should be stopped, or
at least minimized.
On the other hand, there are many third-world locations where
conditions prevail that WE, in rich North America, would consider
harsh, primitive, even "sweatshop", but the people who voluntarily
show up for work each day find it preferable to the alternatives they
have available. There are many locations in the world where it makes
sense for children to work. We, in the rich developed world can
afford the luxury of banning child labor. If we effectively ban it in
places where it's the difference between the family having enough
to eat or the family going hungry, we are not doing those people
I looked briefly around your web-site for explanations of how your
petition (and its hoped-for results) would differentiate between stopping
coercive and unnecessarily harsh situations, and simply taking the food
out of poor people's mouths (in situations that were non-coercive
and only superficially similar). I didn't see how you'd avoid throwing
out the baby with the bathwater. I didn't see where the desperate
workers would find alternative employment when a company moved
to another country in response to your efforts.
You and I can afford to pay a little more for our clothing and food,
to ensure that it comes from only the most unblemished working
environments. But there are plenty of people in this very city who
are far less fortunate than we are. To them, an additional few dollars
per shirt, pair of pants, shoes is enough to take them out of reach.
When you are in the supermarket, did you ever notice some of
the obviously-poor people shopping? Ever notice that they
don't buy they "organic" fruits and veggies? If they buy a chocolate
bar for their kids, it's the two-for-a-dollar-nineteen hershey bar,
and not the $4.49 "Fair-Trade Chocolate" bar with the picture of
a panda on the wrapper. Do you know why?
I just like decisions to be made knowingly.
Kevin (suspicious of "movements" built on half-truths and feel-good
motivators... and not gonna sign)
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