Action Alert!

Boycott Apple? No; the effort is doomed to fail.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 01, 2015

Amid the furor over Indiana's religious-freedom law, the expressions of outrage by self-righteous liberal moralists, and the threats to boycott the state, I hear rumblings about a counter-boycott. If Apple Computer is going to boycott a state that respects religious freedom, should religious people boycott Apple computer?

In theory the answer may be Yes. But a boycott is a weapon of practical politics, and in practical terms the answer is No. Here's why:

A boycott is effective only if it works. If you call a boycott on Apple products, and Apple doesn't quickly feel the sting, the effort fails. Worse than that: a failed boycott reveals the impotence—or, in this hypothetical case, the imprudence—of the people organizing the boycott. 

And a boycott of Apple would surely fail. Watch the iPods and iPads flying off the shelves, and you should have no doubt of the outcome. A successful boycott would require the participation of more than a few thousand activists; it would need to reach millions of people who don't ordinarily get involved in these disputes. It would be an awfully hard sell; we're very attached to our electronic hardware.

Liberals have been more successful in organizing a drive to boycott Indiana, because, frankly, fashionable people don't travel to Indiana all that often. They've made water flow downhill. That's not a good reason for Christian conservatives to try to make water flow uphill.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: rik92vin8086 - Apr. 07, 2015 10:14 PM ET USA

    Vote with your dollar. Patronize companies that share common values. If lent taught us anything sometimes we can simply do without. The other commenters are correct. We live in a world where the means of production are controlled by those hostile to our values, but until we change our ways, they are not very hostile to our way of convenience..I mean our way of life,

  • Posted by: ebierer1724 - Apr. 07, 2015 8:24 PM ET USA

    I agree that boycotting products can be useful and doesn't go unnoticed. I just think that boycotting one (Apple) in the favor of the other (Android) is pointless. Open source platforms are the only potential for positive alternatives to Apple and the companies that develop and manufacture for Android.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 06, 2015 5:25 PM ET USA

    Well, folks, you can always find a reason to do nothing, but I can assure you that your purchasing patterns are closely monitored by manufacturers and retailers (No way! you say.) Take aim at your target, as fwehermann3492 notes, and fire away. BTW, 1jn416, I buy oatmeal in bulk from organic producers, and it sure is good.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Apr. 01, 2015 5:35 PM ET USA

    With all due respect to AgnesDay, Google (which makes Android) and Microsoft (which makes Windows Phone) are about as gay-friendly as Apple. If Christians tried to boycott every company that supported abortion, homosexual activity, etc., we'd be hard-pressed to find places to buy things and to find things to buy. Cereal? No General Mills products for you. Want a book? No Amazon for you. Etc. Sad, but true.

  • Posted by: ebierer1724 - Apr. 01, 2015 5:17 PM ET USA

    AgnesDay, purchasing Windows and Android products comes with its own set of moral dilemmas- rare earth mining, poor manufacturing worker wages, and funding the Gates foundation which supports abortion and euthanasia. The only way to avoid a mega computer company would be to resort to an open source platform...boycott them all or boycott no one.

  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Apr. 01, 2015 4:25 PM ET USA

    I disagree. While a complete boycott may be unrealistic, a partial boycott is doable and sufficient for Apple (and similar companies) to feel the sting. It's simple: stop buying from iTunes, and purchase apps only if you absolutely must have them. Instead of purchasing a new iPhone every two years, wait three or four years. And don't get that iPad. You probably don't need it anyway. Lastly, let Apple know how you feel. Let's not adopt a defeatist mentality. The left sure isn't.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 01, 2015 2:38 PM ET USA

    You don't have to organize a boycott to stop buying Apple products. Just stop buying them. Now that I am dealing with the CEO of Walmart in my own state putting in his own two cents, I am contemplating attending the Shareholders' meeting and making my presence felt. Use YOUR pocketbook and vote YOUR conscience. Windows and Android are good products, and they will increase your sense of virtue.