Give 'em a fair trial and then hang 'em
I was a bit troubled by a link in one of his recent posts, however. The linked web page calls for a boycott of Krug-Mondavi in response to a labor dispute. I commented on Mr. Camp’s blog that it’s not clear to me that Krug-Mondavi actually did anything wrong. Mr. Camp responded:
The agriculture industry's track record of mistreating and underpaying its workers is well documented. Try picking grapes for a buck a bucket for a couple of days and then decide if the Union's demands were reasonable.
I was disappointed in his response, but perhaps not all that surprised. Here is my response to Mr. Camp:
Mr. Camp, it seems that your argument may be summarized as follows:
1) The agriculture industry's track record of mistreating and underpaying its workers is well documented.
2) Krug Modavi is a company engaged in industrial agriculture.
3) Therefore, Krug-Mondavi is guilty of mistreating and underpaying its workers.
I believe this logic suffers from a fallacy in which exceptions to the general rule are ignored. Here’s another example of similarly flawed logic:
1) Craig Camp finds recent release Alsatian Rieslings to be disappointing.
2) The Albert Mann 2004 Riesling is a recent release Alsatian Riesling.
3) Therefore, Craig Camp will not like Albert Mann 2004 Riesling.
Of course, we know you quite enjoyed the Albert Mann 2004 Riesling.
My intention here is not to be a persnickety punk, but rather to highlight the dangers of generalization. Of course, generalization is very useful tool with which we may simplify our complicated world. But imprudent use can be very hurtful.
You seem to be encouraging people to boycott Krug-Mondavi. This is a direct threat to the employees and owners of this company. Their lives could be materially damaged by this boycott, were it to be successful. Do you think it responsible to attack people’s livelihood in this manner before first knowing the facts?
If Krug-Mondavi truly behaved unscrupulously, then by all means take action. But in my view, we all deserve to be innocent until proven guilty.
Perhaps this particular issue is an emotional one for Mr. Camp. I know there are certain issues that cause an emotional response in my self that makes it difficult for me to see things objectively. It happens to me all the time really, but I work hard to avoid letting my knee jerk reaction get the best of me (not always successfully of course).
I think our world would be a much better place if we’d be a bit more careful about our use of generalizations. This is especially true for often contentious issues such as politics, race and religion.
UPDATE: Craig Camp posts this reply:
So by your own logic, as you admit you don't know the facts why are you bothering to comment. As you refer to the Mann Riesling, it is the exception to the rule, I can assure you that C.Krug/Mondavi are not when it comes to the treatment of agricultural workers. Perhaps if this boycott was successful it
would help the lives of these workers - a problem that is more pressing than helping the wealthy owners of these wineries. You could not have any other reason for taking up their banner other than you are indeed "persnickety".
This saddens me a bit. I was absolutely not trying to be an a*shole. I simple felt that the linked to webpage didn’t sufficiently support a very serious action such as boycott. I’d hoped we’d have a good discussion on the topic. Perhaps Mr. Camp had information on Krug’s past practices that he’d link to, for example.
Also, I’m simply suggesting that Krug should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Isn’t that a basic concept in free societies? I’m in no way “taking up their banner”.
I find it distressing when a conversation turns from facts and issues to impugning people's motives. Why didn’t he just a) show me his evidence, b) grant he’s not positive Krug is in the wrong, or c) ignore my comment? Instead, he repeated his unsupported assertions and essentially called me a liar.
UPDATE II: Mr. Camp apologized in his latest comment to me. It appears that he mistook my intended tone. This certainly happens from time to time, and undoubtedly some of the responsibility is mine (I should have communicated more clearly my intentions… though of course I specifically said I wasn’t trying to be persnickety!).
He also provided this link to a blog entry talking about the poor conditions that vineyards workers face. I accept his apology of course, misunderstandings happen all the time.
[Ed. Update II was posted after Mr. Camp posted his comment at this blog. Whit intented to update earlier but was unable to do so.]