Shopify recently posted a piece on Medium entitled In Support of Free Speech that they really should have titled “In Support of Racism”. To summarize, Shopify hosts the store for Breitbart, and they refuse to kick them off the service because the ACLU defended some Klansmen once.
Just in case you’re not aware, Breitbart is a news organization with an astoundingly racist and sexist agenda. Steve Bannon was the executive chair of this organization during its rise to fame, and currently serves as executive adviser for the 45th President of the USA, and is widely believed to be the architect behind some of the worst policies enacted so far (and those yet to come). So in short, supporting Breitbart supports actual physical, emotional, and economic harm to millions of minorities in the USA and across the world.
Shopify’s position is that they’re not taking a position. They’re trying to claim that enabling commerce is enabling free speech, and that by denying Breitbart the ability to sell on their platform, they would in effect be curtailing free speech.
Except! Except this is a logical trap that you learn to avoid in Civics 101: Freedom of speech means freedom from government intervention, not freedom of consequences from private individuals. You can absolutely say all the hurtful things you want and the government can’t stop you, but other people can shout over you, and refuse to service you or spread your message, and picket and protest you, and all kinds of *other* actual free speech to express disagreement.
Further, Shopify is failing to recognize something I’d hoped we as a society learned around the time of the second world war: inaction is, in itself, an action. When you refuse to oppose someone, you are tacitly allowing them to continue their actions. And Shopify’s case is worse! They are literally, factually enabling Breitbart to fund themselves and their agenda. By refusing to make a moral decision here, they are implicitly endorsing Breitbart and their hateful crusade.
Ultimately, they are making this decision because they believe they are financially justified. Like so many corporations out there, what they care about is money, and damn the ethics of it. They believe that if they remove Breitbart from their service, they will lose more money than if they don’t.
Well, let’s prove them wrong. If you have a Shopify account switch today! Deny them their precious filthy lucre and show them that morals are more important than dollars. Here, I’ve even done some work for you to find some alternatives:
- Gumroad: An amazing and dedicated company that constantly works to enable independent creators to sell their work with the simplest possible solution.
- SquareSpace: The 800-pound gorilla in this space. They make it very easy to set up a custom shop and site.
- Volusion: Professional, simple online stores, and they also offer a variety of services to help you market yourself and your shop.
Creator and maker friends of mine, this is how we fight back. (Well, one way, anyway.) Don’t allow public support like this to go unchallenged. I’ll even help you switch, if I know you, at least. And if I don’t know you, I’ll still happily offer what help I can by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Money is not more important than morals. Let’s prove this.