Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Re: Subway Essay Contest

Subway has decided to host an essay contest, Every Sandwich Tells a Story and consciously excluded homeschoolers from entering. (Read Eligibility Rule #2.) As a homeschooling parent I have to say, I am a more than a bit embarrassed by the whining of the many freedom loving parents who homeschool than the decision of Subway to exercise their freedom to hold a contest for whomever they choose.

Homeschool Legal Defense holds a poetry contest every year open ONLY to homeschoolers. Does the public school student protest? No. The intent of the HSLDA contest is to highlight the work of homeschoolers and their organization. Similarly, the intent of the Subway contest was to promote the work of public school students and support the winners local community by giving them playground equipment. Homeschoolers don't fit their intention and so they excluded them. This should have been a win-win for Subway and the school. But Subway didn't count on the whiney homeschool crowd getting all uppity about the supposed discrimination against them. Quickly, homeschoolers demanded their right to enter and began a boycott of Subway. What a shame for Subway and an embarrasment for all who homeschool. Bullies are never popular even if they manage to win the immediate fight.

Some have suggested that they could have let homeschoolers enter the contest and then let them choose where the park equipment should go. But wouldn't that have then discriminated against the public school students who would not be given that same choice? Why should the homeschooler get to choose but not the public school student? Subway wanted to extend a helping hand to a public school not any community organization and that's their perogative? After all, it is their profit. We have no claim to their profits or their benevolence however allocated.

If it's true fairness homeschoolers desire, perhaps Subway could have allowed the homeschoolers to enter the contest and if a homeschooler did win first prize the equipment could have gone to the school the child WOULD have attended had they gone to the local public school. I'm sure that would have softened the ire of homeschoolers! Yeah, right.

Let's be a bit more adult about it, accept their decision, and if you must quietly remind them that you exist too, but then it's time to move on. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot clamoring for a boycott. Marketing expert, Ned Barnett said that Subway made a marketing blunder with this contest, but this outcry makes us appear arrogant and immature. Do we really want to cultivate that image?

I'm actually surprised that Tennesse state officials can tell homeschoolers in that state that they need not apply to any government job and there is nary a peep from the homeschool community, but let a company exclude homeschoolers from an essay contest and the homeschool community cries foul, demands their right to enter, and starts eating at Quiznos!

I say, let Subway exercise their right to hold a contest and allow the entrants to be of their choosing not ours. It's not fun to be excluded from a contest, but the alternative is to limit their freedom based on our choices. As homeschoolers, is that the message you want to send out to the watching world?

Me thinks we doth protest too much!

UPDATE 5/28: Subway has sent a letter of apology to HSLDA. Subway has now also put an apology on their website. But Subway's apology doesn't seem to satisfy One Mom.

Update 5/29: A Rush Limbaugh listener called in today and said,
"CALLER: I believe, Rush -- I don't care how much money they're getting, I don't care where they're spending it, I think that to see a small group of people like the homeschooling crowd tell a company what their supposed to be doing with their money is un-American. I think that Subway is basically being bullied by a special interest group.
For what it's worth, Rush was persuaded and gave the guy some steaks because that's his right to give.

Also, my apologies if you have tried to comment and it has failed to post. Several people have emailed comments because they were not able to post them. Haloscan must not be used to all the activity on my blog!

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