The Daily Telegraph’s aptly-named politics and religion correspondent, Will Heaven, huffs and puffs in his latest column that his favourite brand of ice cream dared to promote a social cause – in this case, that of marriage equality for gay and lesbian people.
Mr. Heaven has had quite enough of his favourite consumer goods telling him what to do or think, thank you very much. And he isn’t at all homophobic, we can tell, because at one point he writes:
“Reading that PR announcement made me want to bulk-buy Häagen-Dazs. Why? Not because I’m a crazed homophobe, but because I’m so irritated by my food telling me what I should believe.”
So not a crazed homophobe, check.
Will Heaven goes on to write:
“This kind of crass marketing technique has “Democrat” written all over it. They’re shamelessly using a delicate social issue to make money. It’s a very American style of Left-wingery – and that’s why I don’t think it will work here.”
Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t. But what I find more interesting is the fact that Mr. Heaven is so outraged that a company should take a public moral stance on an issue (though I do doubt that he would have been moved to write this piece if Ben & Jerry’s had, say, opposed the new UK high-speed rail link that will cut through the countryside, or maybe supported the decriminalisation of fox hunting – and I don’t know his views on those topics, just call it an informed guess) and seek to influence public policy by doing so, but has devoted zero column inches to complaining about the many ways that corporations and other special interests continually seek to influence public policy behind our backs and without our knowledge.
Through lobbyists and charity golf games, and exclusive parties where the great and the good from industry mingle with politicians to make their case for new laws that favour their own companies and industries.
Mr. Heaven is free to boycott Ben & Jerry’s if he doesn’t like the fact that they have decided to publicly support marriage equality. But is he familiar with all of the causes that his bank, his supermarket, and even maybe his employer actively support (through lobbying or cash donations) without making it publicly known? Or is it fine if they sometimes act against his interests and those of the general public, as long as they don’t have the gall to announce it on their product packaging?