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NOVEMBER 15, 2008 3:11PM

Boycotting Those Who Supported Prop 8?

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A Sacramento theater director resigned recently after patrons learned that he'd contributed $1000 to the Proposition 8 campaign and they threatened to boycott the theater. On a radio talk show soon after, the host and numerous callers, even though many of them opposed Prop 8, expressed sympathy for the director and disagreement with those who sought to punish him for freely exercising his legal right to support a cause in which he believed.

At first, I was inclined to agree with this stance. In fact, I guess I still am. But I've read about this story and done some thinking about it since then, and I'm a little more equivocal about where I stand than I was at first. For one thing, I'm sympathetic to the argument that he earned money from the productions staged at his theaters and used some of this money to support Prop 8. So, how could someone, in good conscience, continue to put money in his pocket that he could end up using to deny people their basic human rights?

Suppose the director, Mr. Eckern, had supported a ballot initiative to constitutionally ban interracial marriage or same-sex couples joining in "civil unions" granting the same rights to them that married couples enjoy. Or imagine that he were a NABMLA member who supported a proposition to legalize pederasty. Would and should we be so quick to sympathize with him and to criticize those proposing to boycott his work from which he earned money to support these dubious causes?

You might say that these hypotheticals, expecially the NAMBLA one, are not equivalent to supporting Prop 8, but if you were homosexual and fervently believed in same-sex marriage, you might well disagree. I'm not gay, but I still have some difficulty comprehending a clear difference between my hypotheticals and Mr. Eckern's support of Prop 8.

So, to be consistent, I'd have to say that I wouldn't boycott someone for supporting a ban on interracial marriage (even though I'm a Caucasian man married to an Asian woman) or for supporting the legalization of pederasty (even though I find pederasty appalling) any more than I would for his supporting a ban on same-sex marriage, despite the fact that it would be my legal right to boycott him for exercising his legal right to use the money he earned from my patronage to support any of these causes. But I'd darn sure want to.

What about you?

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A thoughtful and thought-provoking post. You have dimensioned the issues very well.

An organized boycotts is such a blunt instrument. In this case, its unintended consequence could be to hurt the actors, techs, other employees etc. If this were an owner-operated corner deli which hung up a sign saying "Yes on 8" I'd be completely supportive of a boycott. At the other end of the spectrum, if this were a large corporate entity, say Exxon Mobil, whose CEO publicly supported 8, I'd be for a boycott, hoping for his removal and hoping that any economic effects would be somewhat diffused in terms of affecting employees.

In any case, the reaction seems to have had a quick effect in that the director resigned and that the rest of the show can go on.
I wanna know why Jesse Jackson has organized a boycott?

If Prop 8 had been a ban against black gays marrying, JJ would have been there.
Eckern wasn't punished for exercising his legal right to support Prop 8. His legal right to do so was never an issue. He was dismissed for favoring legislation that overturns and denies a segment of the population of California it's constitutional rights. In all likelihood, some of his own theater employees will now be denied those rights. As in a general election, boycotts are ways of voting too. Any case of legalized segregation, whether it involves sexual preference, race, etc. is bigotry. There should be no sympathy for Mr. Eckern.
nagarjuna1953, thanks for this post. I have struggled and written over at my blog about these very same issues. Feel free to take a look:

And this following link, my original post, has quite a heated debate in progress. There are no easy answer here:
I'm for boycotting, generally, if it can make a difference. But boycotting requires organization and solidarity in order to succeed. And even then it is only economically punitive. Don't think you can get people to change their minds or their positions based on a boycott. Nevertheless, I think a punitive approach is certainly warranted in this case.
Remember this from 1997:

"DALLAS (CNN) -- Leaders of the Southern Baptists, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, voted Wednesday to boycott Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiaries for what it called the company's "anti-Christian and anti-family direction. . . .

Many Southern Baptists object to Disney's policy of giving health benefits to same-sex partners of employees, "Gay Days" at theme parks, and the release by Disney and its subsidiaries of controversial books and films like "Pulp Fiction" and "Kids."

Or this from 2005:

"The AFA, [American Family Association] the nonprofit group run by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, criticized Ford for donating money to gay-rights organizations (Ford offers to give up to $1,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for every Jaguar and Land Rover it sells to a member of GLAAD, the company said this week). The group also complained that had Ford sponsored gay pride celebrations, advertised in gay-oriented publications and was “redefining the definition of the family to include homosexual marriage,” Randy Sharp, the organization’s director of special projects, said Tuesday."

So there are all sorts of boycotts, and it seems to be part of the American way on both sides of the political divide.
Boycott Those Who Supported Prop 8? My answer is a very non-reluctant YES.
I recently saw on Oprah's show that for $400, you can spit into a cup for a complete breakdown of your genes. The test reveals a variety of diseases you are or aren't subject to, what quirks your genes carry, etc. That means very soon the majority may decide whether or not employees may decide, for example, to deny jobs to perspective employees because the presence of less healthy genes may raise the health care rates for said company. So! Those who voted for letting people vote away other people's rights may soon find their own rights, or those of their loved ones, voted away by those of healthier blood lines.

So for those who tossed aside the human rights of their fellow citizens may soon find their own rights voted away. Let's see where those who voted for Prop 8 then.
Your thoughts are very nicely expressed. It seems as many have lost the understanding of just what freedom of thought and speech truly are.

I see this as paradoxical, sanctimonious lip-service hiding an extremely insidious process of inciting conformity. When convictions conflict with their own, people seem all to ready and willing to rush to boycott those who express those conflicting convictions, creating a circular argument of sorts? If I boycott Joe for his thoughts and Joe boycotts me for mine, aren't we simply arguing that neither of us have the rights to our thoughts, nor the freedom of expression? The last I heard, forcing conformity, be it through legislation or pressure from other members of society eliminates both and harbors fascism.

I say, agree to disagree, but stop pressuring others into conformity. I absolutely support freedom of speech (and sexual preferences). While I will likely not understand why they don’t feel the same way, I'm not going to condemn (or boycott) those who feel differently. Boycotting is an instrument of protesting social/cultural wrongs, not civil liberties. Boycotting in this fashion is simply hypocritical.

And I expect the same respect for my convictions.
No one is challenging the right to one's opinion. That freedom is your guarantee as an American. But there is a fundamental difference between pressuring someone to conform to a belief or opinion that he or she doesn't share with you, and making it clear that his or her belief/opinion is patently racist, sexist or homophobic. (And be assured that the seeds of Prop 8 were born of anti-gay discrimination.) One is free to be as bigoted as one chooses, and to do so as publicly as one wishes. And the “blunt instrument” of a boycott is a viable and effective way to push back against the insidiousness of intolerance. There's nothing paradoxical, hypocritical or sanctimonious about it.
No one is doubting that Mr. Eckern has the right to free speech and following his convictions. However, there are consequences to any action. Mr. Eckern contributed to an anti-gay cause while working with many gays. If he had the convictions to donate to his cause, then he needed to have the convictions to take the consequences of anger when others learned what he did.

Twenty years ago, transparency of donations was unheard of, but now you can sign on to websites and learn who donated what to any cause. The question is: would he have donated the money if he'd had to write the check in front of his co-workers?
Whenever the issue of limiting contributions comes up, the justification for not doing so ends up being that it is speech. If donating money is speech, then I guess people knowing about it is good. You have the right to speak, but not the right to have people like you if say something ugly. Saying people have the right to receive income even if their patrons don't like what they say would be like saying that the patrons have no right to control their money.
Protest in the streets all you want, even protest corporations. But to target individuals with protests and boycotts is no longer a protest: its a lynch mob. The only thing missing are the pitchforks and torches. You are attempting to persuade someone not because your ideas are better, you are attempting to persuade them out of fear for their lives and their livelyhood. Thats not right.
I completely support boycotts against anyone who supported Prop 8. One thing that struck me is how SURPRISED some of these people are by the anger. Good, I think they need to feel that anger, I think they need to be on the receiving end for a while before they actually “get it”. They never really took a moment to consider or understand what is like to be gay in today’s environment, and I think it’s healthy for them to be forced into a position some many of our gay brothers and sisters have been in for a long time, to be reviled and hated. It’s their turn to be on the receiving end for once. Hopefully, now that they are feeling the sting, they might actually have to open their hearts.
I don't agree with those who voted to ban equal marriage rights in California, but I respect their right to donate to causes without fearing their job. I know this is a very emotional issue, but blacklisting people for their views is dangerous. What next, a shrine to Joe McCarthy in the Human Rights Campaign offices?
Blacklisting racists or homophobes is not dangerous, it's morally and ethically mandatory. The views of those who wrote and payed for Prop 8 are no longer simply personal opinion or preference. Those hateful views and opinions are now the law, foisted upon a segment of the population in violation of their legal rights. And those who sponsor legalized intolerance, should be held accountable. The fact that anyone can regard these bigots as the victims in this scenario is ludicrous.
Uhhh.....F-boycotts. Same goes for holding signs, marching, and organizing "equality fundraisers". Pathetic.

"F" anything BUT the government that allowed this PROP 8 debacle to happen. It was and is child abuse. We need to immediately stop this GOVERNMENTAL PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE on the Q Community and their children!


The National Equality Tax Protest will be on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009.

Many more individuals are FINALLY gathering to TAKE A STAND against persecution from the Catholics, Mormons & the Christian "Right". No vote will be needed on this one, folks.

EQUALITY is SIMPLE when you simply include EVERYONE.