Monday, July 11, 2011

Why Not Stick to Shoes, Indeed

UPDATE: Mycoskie has issued an apology for the association with Focus on the Family. As you can see in the comments, not everyone accepts his apology. We'll see what happens next.

This one managed to get by me until it had already been over for a week, but it turns out that the guy behind the TOMS shoes One For One Giving program, Blake Mycoskie, has been hanging out with the enemy. And by the enemy, I mean Focus on the Family. He even gave them a coupon.

This is pretty disappointing to me personally, as someone who has been wearing TOMS shoes for awhile and loving them. They're perfect for Florida, they can survive the washing machine, they're versatile. And the giving program is coo, or at least it sounds cool on the surfacel: for every pair of shoes you buy, they donate one to a poor kid in another country. So it reeeeeeeeeeally sucks that they're okay with Focus on the Family, who would, among other things, like for poor kids to languish in foster care instead of being adopted by gay parents. Just for example.

Look: I can't buy things from an organization that actively works against me, and I'm certainly not the only one who's disappointed to learn of this. Mycoskie has a blog, his most recent entry is called "Why Not Stick to Shoes?" I was really hoping it would be addressing a firestorm of criticism over his association with right wing extremists, but instead, it's about his new eyewear line. Borrrring. But people left comments asking about his association with FoF, to which he has not responded, although he's taken the time to respond to fawning praise of his efforts.

There's also the issue of whether the One for One Giving program is really as great as it seems. According to my brilliant friend Diana:
"TOMS isn't as wonderful as everyone makes it out to be. they undermine the local economy of the shoe industry in the countries where they donate and give people a false sense that they gave-back, or 'made a difference' by buying shoes. as if we could consume our ways into a better world..."

She's right, especially about the last point. And there are surely ways to get shoes to people who need them beyond buying them from a company that hangs out with people who actively hate me and my friends. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a lot to say about how horrifying Focus on the Family is. The SPLC last year also noted that Focus on the Family opposed efforts to decrease anti-gay bullying in schools. It's short, so let's block quote it:

For the last few days, an “educational analyst” for Focus on the Family has been getting a lot of press. She’s been suggesting that anti-bullying efforts that draw attention to the harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are part of a “gay agenda” to “sneak homosexuality lessons into classrooms.”

One can argue, as some have, that Focus on the Family is a fringe group that doesn’t represent the majority of Christians in the United States. That’s true. But it’s also true that Focus on the Family has an outsized impact on conservative thought in this country. And by using deception and spin, the group has managed this week to grab the media spotlight. The goal is apparently to make schools less safe for LGBT students and more safe for their harassers. That cannot be ignored.

It’s also impossible to ignore Focus on the Family’s smarmy tactics. Taking a page out of George Orwell, the group has developed a website for parents designed to “challenge the monopoly.” They’ve named it Sound familiar?

Blake doesn't get to claim that he's working for social justice or uplift or anything if he's working with a group that actively oppresses people. He just doesn't.

So go leave comments on Blake's stupid blog post and write to TOMS and do whatever else you crazy kids do when a corporation does something horrendous.


  1. Ick. That's pretty devastating about TOMS. After all the good I'd been hearing about them, I had been contemplating getting some myself. Not so much now.

    The I spent some time looking over their "Examples of Inappropriate Pro-Gay Classroom Materials." Some of their comments would be laughable if not for the fact that 1) they are real and prevalent and 2) they hold such dire consequences for people. I didn't explore further because I couldn't stomach it.

  2. I hear you, Desi. I can't go to web sites like that anymore. They just get my blood pressure up and I hate giving them hits.

  3. This 'true tolerance' site is, I suppose, a counterpoint to the 'teaching tolerance' site? Sad. And anger inducing.