Why it’s wrong to punish L.L. Bean over Linda Bean’s personal political views

We live in emotional times in the United States of America. We’re just days away from President-elect Donald Trump inheriting the country and many who opposed him fear the end of life as we know it. Political rhetoric is escalating as partisanship grows sharper, with fears that a man who targeted the media and is hostile to opponents could erode the Bill of Rights and eliminate the First Amendment.

Now these views are hitting a crescendo even long after the election cycle ended. In a political year that saw relationships collapse over political views, overly partisan political activists are doubling down on their negativity.

The latest victim is Maine’s own business L.L. Bean.

It’s impossible to live in Maine and not know about L.L. Bean. The company has a history rooted here]. The Bean family, dating back to Leon Leonwood Bean, has helped give the state a devoted, high quality line of outdoor merchandise. It blends well with Maine’s rich tradition as a vacation state full of outdoors activities.

Whether you’re on the coast or by a lake fishing, on a mountain hiking, or in the woods camping, L.L. Bean has supplied a wide range of products for these activities. Beyond this, it is a significant contributor to the economy by employing thousands of individuals and helps the community through countless nonprofit contributions.

But for some, this is not enough. Politics is greater than the community and improving Maine.

But also cannot expect Shannon Coulter of Grab Your Wallet to understand. Living in California, she lives thousands of miles away from here. As a resident on the other side of the country, she’s not in a position to understand the impact a boycott of L.L. Bean could have. But as a political activist who puts political goals first, she’s not going to care even if she were in a position to understand.

This is why the Grab Your Wallet campaign, an Internet movement targeting Trump-aligned businesses, has now set its sights on the famous Maine retailer.

The problem here is that the company hasn’t even taken a political position. L.L. Bean makes contributions to nonprofits, but hasn’t donated to political causes or candidates. Instead, the backlash against the large company is due to a single individual’s political activities.

Bean is one of many in a family and the company employs thousands of employees, and supplies countless customers.

The other family members who have invested their lives in Leon Leonwood Bean’s legacy apparently don’t matter because a woman thousands of miles away said her political views matter more. The thousands of people who rely on a paycheck to feed their families through the Winter and keep the heat on as temperatures remain below freezing don’t matter to her.

Can Shannon Coulter feel the Maine winters all the way out in San Francisco, California?

Linda Bean is an American citizen and living in a free country, she is entitled to her personal views. She has a right to her political actions. If she has broken the law, then the proper enforcement agencies will address the matter. Similarly, Coulter and her legion of angry activists are entitled to their political views, as well. This is America.

But through exercising our rights to free speech, it is important to not allow emotions to cloud our vision and facts slip from reality.

L.L. Bean is an enormous company. The Bean family isn’t just Linda Bean, just like any one person isn’t their own entire family. The company employs countless people who do rely on a paycheck. Many loyal customers do keep going to this business as well, because of the service and quality.

Linda Bean isn’t the company chair. She also isn’t the President and CEO. Shawn Gorman is the Chair of the company, not Mrs. Bean. Stephen Smith is the President and CEO, not Mrs. Bean. It’s important to remember these facts.

Don’t hold a company responsible for the personal actions of one individual. It’s irresponsible, misguided and wrong.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer. In addition to writing "Undercover Porcupine", he is also the Managing Editor for The Liberty Conservative and writes for Cleat Geeks and Medium.