'Boycotting BP!'

Travesty by Travis Williamson

Since late April, images like these have polluted the internet, newspapers, and television sets of Americans all over the nation.

Of course, you all recognize this as the BP oil spill. The explosion of BP’s oil well has been the hottest topic of discussion and interest, especially in the gulf coast states. So far we have seen reactions of sadness, disparity, and (of course) anger. Whether it be anger due to the effect of the oil on wildlife, negative impact on the drilling industry, or the lack of government response, this anger is being channeled all over the US into one thing: a boycott of BP.

Perhaps you are one of the 646, 107 members of the “Boycott BP” Facebook group, have seen the boycotts on the national news channels, or have been converted to the movement by one of the many celebrities or musicians also supporting the boycott. The bands Korn and The Backstreet Boys (who apparently still make music) have come out in full force in support of the boycott movement. "I'm devastated by what I've seen firsthand and on the news" says Nick Carter (remember him?). "I've always been a marine activist and seeing pictures of oil-covered animals breaks my heart."

Another celebrity, Ashton Kutcher, directed his anger towards the right in a recent comment to CNN, “if you could go back to the Republican National Convention, and look the guys in the eyes that were saying ‘drill! drill! drill!’ at the RNC…those guys, there you go! That’s what we got! We did it! We drilled drilled drilled!”

So, with thousands of Facebook users, death metal superstars, 90’s pop boy bands, and the intelligencia of actors all supporting the BP Boycott, how could we not all jump on board? Well, if you possess the intelligence to use a little insight, you can very easily see why the boycott is juvenile, futile, and farcical. Now maybe I’m being too harsh here. I do agree with Carter: seeing the helpless wildlife hurt does break by heart, but a boycott is a waste of energy better spent working to help the situation. This boycott was a failure from day one, for multiple reasons.

The first reason is rather basic, and it boils down to the nature of the boycott itself. Let’s say, hypothetically, that as a group we decided to boycott pineapples. Well it’s pretty straight forward, we don’t eat pineapple, and if someone is eating pineapple it is easy to spot them doing it. Now with the BP boycott, you can’t be at a stop light and have someone pull up next to you and say, “I see your car is burning gas from a BP station! I can tell!” This boycott can’t be enforced in anyway, except by doing something extremely illegal such as vandalizing local BP stations. Which some people have been bright enough to try.

The second reason is that most of the around 10,000 BP stations in the US are privately owned. BP (British Petroleum, Mr.Kutcher) is a brand name, and if you chose boycott the local BP station, what you’re really doing is boycotting an outlet. The vast majority of the BP logo baring gas stations are small, privately-owned, businesses and while you may put a few minimum wage workers out of their paying jobs, you’re not even denting the numbers of the giant gas conglomerate that you were targeting. Maybe you’re still embarrassed to be seen at a BP station, so you pass it and head to the next viable station. Well here is the kicker, the gas that comes out of the pump at any station could very well come from a BP wholesale retailer and you could be buying BP’s fuel and not even know it.

If you still decide to stick to your new-found high moral standards against BP and patronize other stations, you’re really still in the same boat. You’re not going to start driving less, the same way you’re not going to stop using gas. The harsh truth is that all gas companies have similar moral stains in their history. A quick Google search can pull up a plethora of gas company stories that will put a bad taste in your mouth.

So maybe this whole mess will inspire you to finally buy that electric car which you plug in and charge up with electricity generated from you own personal windmills that generate clean energy. If you don’t have access to local windmills creating power for you and your family, I guess you can still plug in and get power that is generated from natural gas…provided by BP. Oh wait.

“Well that means it’s time to give up the cars! I’ll ride by skate board and bike to work!” Well the wheels on your bike and skateboard are more than likely petroleum-based. As long as you’re boycotting BP, you may as well boycott home-heating fuel, airline fuel, and the ingredients for plastic products. All things produced by British Petroleum.

So, boycotters, while I fully respect your right to protest and boycott BP, I am asking you to cease and desist. I do admire the passion and energy you implore, but I believe that it is misguided. I believe it would be way more beneficial for you to concentrate your energy and drive and apply it to a reasonable cause that will aid in tending to the problem as a whole.

Understand that I’m just as frustrated about this situation as the next guy, but a boycott just isn’t the answer. This situation is a mess and one of the most mind boggling things about this whole scenario is that the pipe that you all see on your TV that is spewing out oil and natural gas…is the size of your garbage can. It’s that small, and we can’t seem to do anything to plug it.

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