Prop 8 Backers Whining about Boycotts
According to an article in USA Today, “Prop 8 opponents turn to boycotts” (Dec. 22, 2008, p. 5A), some of those who contributed heavily to backing California’s ballot measure against gay marriage are complaining that they are being blacklisted. First off, they are are being boycotted and one should never confuse the two. A blacklist is when an institution of authority (the government or the studios) make it impossible for a group to do business, regardless of market demand for their services. It’s what the studios did in the McCarthy era and what the Nazis did to the Jews before the decided that exterminating them would be a better solution. As my dear Professor Richard Sugarman, who knows a thing or two about the Holocaust used to say, the Nazis said “You can’t work here” followed by “You can’t live here” followed by “You can’t live.” The blacklist was the first step in that tragic progression.
A boycott is, on the other hand, what civil rights leaders in the US, anti-apartheid activists, environmental activists (e.g. with respect to Home Depot) and various Christian activist groups have done. It simply operates on the principle that in a free market, all consumers have choices about how to spend their money. Given that freedom, they can choose not to support business who donate to causes those consumers do not support. Thus a business that, for example, produces toys but also gives heavily to Planned Parenthood, may find conservative Christian groups organizing a boycott. A business that gives heavily to anti-abortion activists ay find itself boycotted by pro-choice activists as Domino’s Pizza did. I can’t for the life of me (which perhaps i shouldn’t say in that context) see anything wrong with this. In fact, I would say that it is far, far better than bombing abortion clinics or spiking trees.
But Robert Hoehn, who donated $25,000 to the Prop 8 campaign and is seeing his car dealerships being boycotted by Prop 8 opponents, says “I just hate being pigeonhoeld as a hate monger or bigot.” Well Bob, let me be the 5,481st genius to tell you that’s sort of the point of a most boycotts. That is to say that the point is to hurt you economically because of your choices which, typically, the boycotters see as immoral, unethical, bigotted, anti-evironmental or whatever axe they’re grinding.
Personally, I would be happy to have some group organize a massive boycott of Taken For Ranted because I have called Sean Hannity a dangerous and vicious man hell-bent on undermining fundamental protections of the US Consistution. Not that boycotting TFR would exactly hurt my income since I suppose I can afford to give up the $2/month I make off t-shirts (almost none of which are sold via this site anyway). But to be honest, I suspect that Sean Hannity, if he knew I existed, would be pleased to know that a whacko lefty nut job like me considers him dangerous and I would certainly be flattered if he would return the favor. Please Sean, boycott me. There’s no way I could ever afford to buy the kind of publicity that would bring me.
One of the great corrupters in a democratic society is the large flow of anonymous money into the political process. Of course, in theory, that flow of money is documented and not anonymous, but in practice we rarely know who is giving where. Making that knowledge available makes us responsible. If we knew that all our neighbors would know what causes we did and didn’t donate to, would that change our behavior. More importantly, if a week before an election, we got a list of the biggest donors and the biggest donors in our district and the total amount given to a candidate or ballot measure, would that not make the process more honest?