Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cupcakes [hoax]

It's tough to tell what is and isn't dedicated satire sometimes. I'm strongly inclined to think that the person responsible for the @CupcakeCrewNYC Twitter account is having a big ol' laugh at their followers' expense, but I'm not exactly sure what the joke is supposed to be.

For those of you with the good sense not to click through, this is the account listed on the website of an itinerant cupcake business. Nothing on the predictably bland website will prepare you for the, let's call it charged political commentary and colorful language you'll encounter on the Twitter account. It's, well, it's incongruous.

Some might even classify it as hate speech.

Here's the puzzle: would you still be morally justified in buying their cupcakes? Does shopping there implicitly endorse their political beliefs? Does boycotting them send a signal that their political beliefs are wrong?

Prices are information, but they're sort of a dumb signal. If someone doesn't buy from me, it just (credibly) tells me that the alternative uses of their cash are more attractive. To explain why, we need to rely on (non-credible) speech. Hence the importance of preserving First Amendment protections. Without the ability to doubly signal displeasure, making clear how and why this particular cupcake vendor is wrong.

Still though, the market rewards people who are good at delivering value to customers. Are political beliefs separable from business practices? Should they be? Why or why not? Can it ever be euvoluntary to truck, barter, or exchange with hateful people? Explain.

Update: further investigations suggest that the Twitter account has been compromised and that the cupcake truck is out of business. The point about commerce and morality is still salient however. Are vendors' political beliefs relevant to shoppers?

1 comment:

  1. If the distasteful tweets are a result of the Twitter account being compromised, I would think there are very real euvoluntary issues at play. I don't know what the euvoluntary implications are of undeserved hits against reputation. Given a "reputation economy" or even "reputation currency," it would be a far worse crime than identity theft, but also probably a lower-hanging fruit for perpetrators.

    Not related to euvoluntarism, but I absolutely cringe whenever some news broadcast yet again shows some variant on the "person got laid off, decided to forego the 'corporate world' or whatever, and go into the cupcake business." Why always cupcakes? It's becoming more than a little cliché. Sure desserts are one merchandise that practically "sells itself," but this isn't exactly a staple food (unless maybe we're talking sugar-free protein fortified cupcakes). My point is, if they're trying (as seems to be the case) to make a case for self-employment being the fix for the problems of employment, let alone a wholesale replacement for employment across the population (a dubious proposition, IMHO), they should have a more diverse portfolio of startups in their cache of feel-good news stories, and maybe include some heavy-lifting sectors like energy or construction or non-boutique food or something.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?