When two parties have a disagreement and provide opposing explanations for the disagreement, how do you determine which is giving an accurate explanation and which is giving an inaccurate explanation? If you’re watching the situation from the outside, you often can’t. However, that doesn’t stop individuals from reacting. A good example of this is the recent spat between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Yeti:
The stunt followed a letter to NRA members sent by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action announcing that Yeti had severed ties with the NRA Foundation, following the lead of other companies in the wake of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The letter, sent by former NRA president and current lobbyist Marion P. Hammer, said the company “declined to do business with The NRA Foundation” without prior notice and “refused to say why.”
“They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation,” Hammer wrote. “That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed.”
But on Monday, just as the backlash and calls for boycott picked up steam, Yeti said in a statement to The Washington Post, also posted on Yeti’s Facebook account, that the NRA letter was “inaccurate.” The Austin-based retailer said it notified various organizations, including the NRA Foundation, that it was eliminating a “group of outdated discounting programs” from which the organizations benefited.
The NRA was not specifically targeted, Yeti said.
“When we notified the NRA Foundation and the other organizations of this change, YETI explained that we were offering them an alternative customization program broadly available to consumers and organizations, including the NRA Foundation,” Yeti said. “These facts directly contradict the inaccurate statement the NRA-ILA distributed on April 20.”
According to the NRA, Yeti severed business times without prior notification. According to Yeti, it discontinued a group of discounts for multiple organizations and offered a more customization option to those organizations. The NRA then said that Yeti was lying and Yeti in turn said that the NRA was lying. Who should be believed and why?
This is one of the arguments currently being had on numerous online communities. One side claims that the NRA is telling the truth while the other side claims that Yeti is telling the truth. Some of those who believe that the NRA is telling the truth have reacted by destroying Yeti products that they previous purchased. Meanwhile, some of those who believe that Yeti is telling the truth have called those destroying their Yeti products dumbasses.
Realistically, there is no way for those of us outside of the decision making apparatuses of these parties to know the truth. We don’t have access to the agreements between the NRA and Yeti. We don’t have access to the reason why Yeti discontinued its discount program. We don’t have access to the list of other parties that were also supposedly impacted by the discontinuation of the discount program. What we do have are statements made by two disagreeing parties. Trying to determine which of the two is giving an accurate summary of events is like trying to determine which spouse in a messy divorce is giving an accurate summary of the events that lead to the divorce.
Unfortunately, in these situations people tend to side themselves with whichever party they like better. Diehard supporters of the NRA will likely side with the NRA whereas diehard supporters of Yeti will likely side with Yeti. Likewise, people who hate the NRA may side with Yeti whereas people who hate Yeti may side with the NRA. Both sides will justify their position as being made by something other than their personal feelings but those justifications will almost certainly be based on statements made by the party they’re siding with.
I would argue that a better default position would be to side with neither party in a disagreement. Instead of a knee jerk reaction, why not be patient and wait for more information to possibly come to light? After all, what benefit is there from picking a side in an disagreement that doesn’t directly involve you?