The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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***NOTE*** I slightly altered the title of this post to reflect what a commenter pointed out to me…

I try to never interject politics with woodworking. Why in the world would you need to attach a political ideology to the hobby of woodworking? Nonetheless, this post is about politics, so I urge you to please not read it if you would rather be reading about dovetails and tool restoration (I mean this sincerely, not as a half-assed attempt at reverse psychology)

Anyway, if you are following American politics lately, you are likely noticing a lot of division, protests, and in some cases, out right anarchy. As far as protests are concerned, I will only say that they almost never work. They are generally poorly organized and incoherent acts of aggression that ultimately degrade into physical violence and destruction. And almost always protests do little more than further anger their target audience, which is maybe what they set out to do in the first place. If you want to tell me that protests change the world I will disagree and tell you that you are wrong. And if you believe in psychology, which I do, I will tell you to research the psychology of protests/protesters (which is easy to do especially with the internet) and you will read that at their core all public protests violent outbursts that nearly always further alienate the protesters with those who do not agree with them. Even more so, public protests often tend to push people away who may have been “on the fence” when it came to the cause being protested. And the psychological make-up of protesters is even more disturbing, but I’ll leave that to anybody reading this post to research on their own if they care to do so.

Boycotts, however, are something I can get behind. Boycotts are personal, they can make a difference (hurting a company’s bottom line always seems to open up some eyes), and they can be facilitated without breaking windows and physically assaulting old people. There are some companies I have boycotted for a long time, and others more recently. For instance, after some of the events which unfolded last summer, I no longer watch or attend professional sports, and that was something I had done for my entire life.

Boycotts seem to be all the rage right now, but just like freedom of speech, a boycott swings both ways. Less than a week ago I was about to take some of my hard-earned money and purchase a woodworking product when I happened to read something disturbing on the company web page. I am not going to name that company (yet) but I will only say that it was a thinly veiled attack of not only our current President, but far more importantly, our political system. I have had my issues with every single person who has held the office of President (including the current one) since I’ve been old enough to understand how the American political system operates. But I’ve always respected the office and our government. Even more to the point, whoever wrote what they did seems to have very little understanding of how a Republic functions, which really makes me question their intelligence. And I certainly don’t want to give my hard-earned money to stupid people whenever I can help it.

Sadly, another company that I’ve dealt with since I’ve made woodworking my hobby has also used their influence as a forum to push their own political agenda. Once again, what they are doing is perfectly within their rights, but I don’t want to see or hear a political diatribe, subtle or no, when I’m trying to purchase a woodworking item. So from now on both of those companies will no longer see a penny of my business. Attacking a politician is one thing-though it should not be done on a retail company’s webpage IMO-but attacking the American political system and questioning its validity is something I will not tolerate, because I believe our system is still the best option when considering the thousands of years worth of failures of countless other political systems.

You may have noticed that I have not named those companies, and that is because I believe that boycotts are a personal thing, and I am not trying to influence anybody one way or the other. BUT….I wrote this post for a reason. If I do happen to see another woodworking company attempt to use their business to influence the political decisions of their customers, or undermine the American political system in general, I will do anything in my power to encourage others to not purchase their products, and at that I will be naming names. That “power” may not add up to much, but if a bunch of morons blocking traffic and setting fires can supposedly change the world, I’m more than confident that I can as well.



  1. bloksav says:

    Hi Bill

    I think that personal boycotts can be very effective. And I also hate the idea that I should support someone or something that I really disagree with.

    I am not sure what makes someone capable of determining how the political system of one country is better or worse than a similar system of another country.
    There are so many things that will have an influence, like the culture of the country, the number of inhabitants, the actual size of the country etc.

    The best indicator I suspect is if the people who live in that country are satisfied with how the system works.
    The system can still be fine even though you don’t agree with who might ended up winning an election. That is just an indicator that someone else is having a different opinion than you.

    One of my many faults is that I have a tendency to bear a grudge, so if I am sufficiently annoyed I will embark on a life long boycott, and often tell other people who I am boycotting and most importantly why.
    It might be a bit childish, but I am not in any way perfect.

    In my opinion it would be perfectly OK to state what companies, countries, products etc. you are boycotting. Especially if you happen to give an explanation.
    If that is done, a boycott can be intensified by involving more people in a way that the company might actually change its politics.

    Brgds and have a nice weekend


    • billlattpa says:

      I agree with you that political systems are difficult to gauge because of the many factors you’ve listed. I think the American Republic works well because it is so easily adaptable to any country regardless of size. Of course, that country will also need to have a free market system and cannot be governed also by religious entities (not that I have an issue with religion, but it seems to have a difficult time coexisting with government)

      Many people claim to be unhappy, and they likely are, but that generally has little to do with the government. Unhappy people often try to place the blame of their misfortune rather than take personal responsibility for their condition. Of course the government is an easy target. But the truth is that the standards of living here are generally very high. Nobody is naked and starving and the vast majority of people who live on the streets do so because they sadly have mental issues and cannot be forced to live elsewhere unless it is proven that they are a danger to others. In fact, we are one of the few countries in the world where obesity is a problem among “poor” people. “Poor” being a relative term when you consider that Americans referred to as poor have a higher standard of living than much of the rest of the world if you believe what the UN has to say, and I do.

      Like you, I easily hold a grudge, and there are many companies that I refuse to solicit. However, I generally try not to mention them on a public forum such as a blog because there are many cases where it has the reverse effect, and actually will help to increase business rather than detract.

      I found one personal attack on Donald Trump and one attack on the election system on separate company web pages. Once again, I really don’t care whether or not somebody doesn’t like the current President because there hasn’t been a President universally loved in my life time and there likely never will be again. But I do not think that a woodworking retail page is the place for that type of rhetoric. It is insulting in general and insults my intelligence. And I don’t want to deal with companies that insult my intelligence.

      Thanks Jonas!

  2. Mark Dennehy says:

    While I wouldn’t agree with you about peaceful protests (whatever about riots, which to my mind are a different animal completely), and while I would agree with you on the worth of boycotts (though I think we’d differ on the targets), there are two errors in what you say that are worth the risk of offending in order to mention:

    1) The entire point of a boycott is that it is not a private personal affair; the origin of the word itself even points that out – it’s an Irish thing, regarding the social shunning of a chap by the name of Boycott, a deeply unpopular English land agent (a land agent would run large farms for overseas landlords). It was highly public, to the point that it was the subject of debate in Parliament and English troops were deployed to do the job those boycotting him were refusing to do.

    Boycotts are public, by nature. If unannounced and unstated, they just aren’t boycotts, they’re a dip in sales that nobody understands.

    2) If it’s a privately owned company, what’s the difference between them saying something about their politics on their privately owned and paid for website; and you saying something on your privately owned and paid for website (or me doing the same thing)? You might agree with it or not; and I’m not saying they’re right or wrong (I’d probably have an opinion one way or the other, but I’ve not read it). I just don’t think it’s correct to say that them saying something on their website that isn’t strictly related to the business is somehow beyond the pale. Assuming, naturally, that it’s not something illegal…

    • billlattpa says:

      Hi Mark, thanks for the comment.

      I believe, and if you agree with the majority of psychologists they also believe, that all protests-in the sense that you are marching and chanting, etc. are acts of aggression, and therefore cannot be considered “nonviolent”. Whenever you are trying to impose your will, or force people to listen to your viewpoint, which is the main purpose of most protests, you are “lashing out” and exhibiting aggressive behavior, which is certainly a form of violence. Aggressive behavior often, though not always, leads to acts of physical altercations. Mobs in general rarely, as in almost never, solve problems. Once again, psychologists have studied mob mentality for a long time I am only poorly paraphrasing what they have to offer. Mobs usually become violent either verbally, physically, or in most cases, both.

      You are correct when you say “boycott” is not the word I should have used because I am keeping the products to myself. I used the term only because it may come to that. When I say “personal”, I mean it in the sense that nobody talked me into it and I came to that decision of my own accord (please remember that I’m hardly a professional writer, and a lot of stuff sounds better in my head that it does once it is written down) So I probably should have made the title: Boycott? and maybe I will change it.

      Private company was definitely the wrong term to use and I will amend it when I get the chance. I saw what I saw on retail pages, meaning they were selling stuff. They definitely didn’t break any laws, as I mentioned in the post (at least I don’t think they did). I simply didn’t care for what they say because I don’t believe that a company should use it’s retail section to push a personal political agenda. At that, it is done all the time, and I don’t solicit many companies because of it. This just happens to be the first time I’ve come across it on a woodworking site.

      Thanks again!

  3. kfreyermuth2014 says:

    Bill, I don’t agree with you about protests. IMHO they focus attention on the issue and draw out the narrative. The Vietnam war protests forced the politicians of the day to reevaluate their stance and end the war. Likewise one can respect the office of the President while being embarrassed by and ashamed of the antics of the current occupant of that office. Respect needs to be earned.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think the issue is not if protests ‘can’ work, but if they ‘do’ work. There are lots of things that in theory are good but in reality the direct opposite. I cannot necessarily comment on the war in Vietnam and its protests because I was an infant at the time. Yet, while there may have been peaceful protests regarding the war, there were also protests that erupted into violence, in which I find the greatest irony.

      I still stand by my original statement that there is truly no such thing as non-violent protests just by their very nature. Speaking as a layman who has only read psychology books for the most part because I was required to in school, nearly all psychological studies done (that I’ve read) regarding protests conclude that they are aggressive in nature and that is really undeniable. The very moment you block a street, set a fire, shout a slogan, or in any way attempt to make another human being acknowledge your view point using those methods you are behaving violently.

      To further my point, and this is something I didn’t touch on in the post, when you put a large group of people together and that gathering is aggressive in nature, which protests often are (once again, I am only referring to what I’ve read), the propensity for physical violence and destruction increases dramatically.

      The argument is often: It’s only a small percentage of the protesters that lash out with physical violence. Yet that argument really makes the case, because protests very often attract aggressive people who are bent on acting violently. And recent events prove this beyond any doubt. More to the point; how often do protests result in physical altercation and property damage? I don’t know the exact numbers but I know that it happens a lot. Secondly, how often do protesters block roads/streets, litter, disrupt sidewalks etc even if they don’t necessarily resort to outright physical violence? Once again, I don’t know the exact answer, but it is nearly every time. So nobody is going to tell me that protests are at their heart peaceful demonstrations because that is just complete nonsense and almost never accurate.

      As far as the President is concerned. It is certainly okay to not respect the man whether he is President or not. Yet, that does not mean that he also deserves disrespect. I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt just as I did the last four Presidents, all of whom had traits that I did not care for on a personal level.

      Yet, what I am seeing here, and what is being advocated by certain businesses (including some woodworking companies it now seems) is more than just a lack of respect for the man, but a lack of respect for the office and for the Republic in general. In order to respect the office of President, you need to at the least give the person elected the chance to succeed or fail. When riots occur the very day he is elected, and those riots are condoned by certain politicians and businesses, that is an utter lack of respect for the office.

      As I said, I have no authority to do anything about it other than write a blog post, but I can certainly take my business elsewhere, and if it comes down to it, I can ask others to do the same.

      Thanks again!

  4. Brian says:

    I very much agree with your stance. While they may have a right to voice their opinion, you certainly have the right to not purchase from them. I have done this on a few occasions myself for various reasons. Even if I might have agreed with their stance I would have been put off by it more than likely. It’s not something you would expect to see when looking for a new tool. It lacks tact at the very least.

    • billlattpa says:

      Yes, and that is what I’m doing. These attacks are now beyond the man and are meant to undermine the country in general. That doesn’t sit well with me, and I will no longer purchase anything from them, period.

  5. Sylvain says:

    There are quite a few things I will not discuss because we could just agree that we don’t agree…
    Any electoral system has advantages and drawbacks.
    Concerning business, I would say:

    – Only physical persons are citizens;
    – Legal persons (e.g. business entities) are no citizen and should not interfere in the democratic process. Direct or indirect sponsorizing of candidates by business legal persons should not be allowed.
    – Electoral expenses should be strictly limited to tend to achieve equal opportunity for all citizens.

    Using a business web site for personnal opinions is obviously not a good idea either but in my view of much lower consequence.


    • billlattpa says:

      I’ve certainly come across businesses both now and in the past that have used their success as a forum to push a political agenda. I personally think it is wrong but it is hardly illegal. So I do what I can and simply take my business elsewhere. Nike is a prime example of this.

      This is my first experience when it comes to woodworking, though maybe it has happened before and I just never noticed it. So I’m going to do what I’ve always done and just not shop there anymore. This post was written mainly because I was very surprised by what I saw (in regards to it involving woodworking).

  6. rene. says:

    In my eyes it is a good thing when companies show in what they believe and whom they support openly – that is good for us as customers: It gives us the possibility to decide, if we want to support them or not.
    There is enough going on behind the doors. We do know only little of the who-with-who. Even the PR of a company for the public can be used as an instrument to lead opinions or to lead buying decisions. The mantra may change the other night or in the background there may other strings be pulled than they do tell us – what is highly psychological/marketing motivated, but in most cases the “real reasons” will be hardly visible for us.

    So, as you mention Cap:
    Look at the big companies as you would do in your village: If the butcher unsettles you with his opinion – you’d better ask your neighbour, if he gives you some of his home slaughtered meat. Or you’d become a vegetarian.

    • billlattpa says:

      Rene, thank you for the comment.

      You make a very good point. Maybe a company should make the political views of its officers and executives public knowledge, not that they should be required to, but it does give the consumer the option going forward.

      As I had mentioned, while I don’t necessarily agree with it, a company posting a political message on their web page, or company blog, etc. is hardly anything new and certainly not illegal by any means. Some may even call it brave, and in a sense it is. However, I don’t particularly care for it, and I definitely didn’t care for the subtle insinuations that I came across stating that “the system failed”, because the system works-it is people who fail. It was more the wording than the actual message that disappointed me most.

      I was tempted to name the companies involved, but I decided not to because just as I didn’t necessarily believe it was a good idea for a company to try to sway its customers in a political sense, I don’t think it is my place (for the time being) to be doing the very same thing I was complaining about.

      Thanks again

  7. I vote with my pocketbook everyday. It’s a very bad decision for companies to get involved in politics as it normally upsets half of their clients. I haven’t seen the web site you’re mentioning, but if I did, I would probably stop buying from them as well.

    • billlattpa says:

      When you think about it, voting with your pocketbook is probably the most powerful way to exercise your “authority”. Nothing, and I mean nothing, influences change more than a faltering bottom line.

  8. Steve D says:

    Respect for the office is for everyone, including the holder.

    • billlattpa says:

      That is very true. I’m not sure if you were implying that the guy in there right now has disrespected the office in some way; that remains to be seen. But rioting on Nov 8th and then on Jan 20th is the first indicator that the office was completely disrespected not only by the rioters, but also by the party that lost for not once condemning the actions of its so-called supporters.
      If you think Donald Trump’s decisions have been controversial so far, when you get a chance look into the administrations of both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, or Lyndon Johnson, or more recently Bill Clinton, who used the actual oval office as a location to cheat on his wife on multiple occasions.
      But you’re certainly correct, respect for the office does go both ways.

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