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11/26/2007

Deck the halls with extremism: The war on Xmas season has officially begun!

by Jeremy Hooper

WildmonwarRemember on Wednesday when we told you that despite Wal-Mart's strides towards gay-friendliness over the past few years, the retailer's perceived turnaround in the face of opposition has led the Human Rights Campaign to this year give the company a negative score on their annual “Buying for Equality” Guide? And remember how we told that gays were being encouraged to factor Wal-Mart's low pro-gay score into their shopping decisions this holiday season? Well, one of the most vocal members of our opposition, the American Family Association, is challenging HRC's call by encouraging their followers to launch a "buycott" of the shopping behemoth. AFA president Don Wildmon is attempting to send a message about the "pro-family" dollar by telling his troops to "make every effort to shop at Wal-Mart this Christmas season" so that it will seem that his side has more influence than ours. Read more at link:

Gays challenge traditional marriage supporters: put up or shut up [AFA]

Now, this whole thing of course has no real way of proving anything, as (1) there is no real way to measure what, exactly, leads to the retailer's rise or fall in holiday profits, and (2) the ratio of Wal-Mat shoppers on the socially conservative side vs. the gay and progressive side is already very off balance. Due to some of its business practices, many gays and liberals wouldn't shop at the retailer even if Dennis Kucinich was the greeter and Pride flags were ten for a dollar. Plus, in many urban areas, a Wal-Mart isn't even anywhere to be found. So while the AFA will of course try and claim it a victory for "traditional marriage supporters," if we do see an increase in the Arkansas-based retailer's sales, their celebration will be both baseless and childish.

The thing is, this particular situation DOESN'T REALLY INVOLVE THE AFA ONE BIT! Our side is not really trying to prove anything or send a strong message in terms of the bottom line; we are trying to send a strong message to the corporate bigwigs that their policies are short-sighted! While we would hope that the retailer would notice a sip in their gay customer base and reconsider their policies, few on our side have the delusions that we're going to bankrupt the nation's most consumer paradise. By issuing their report on the retailer's practices, the Human Rights Campaign is simply trying to make LGBT consumers aware that in terms of their lives and loves, Wal-Mart is not doing all that they could to facilitate parity. And they are leaving it to the gay consumer to decide for themselves whether or not they are still comfy shopping at Wally World. But of course since the AFA considers every queer action to be a personal insult and a slap in their face (and since they love boycott-like things more than Sarah Silverman loves saying outrageous things behind a cute girl veil), they just have to stick their necks into this. They have to make this about them and make it seem as if by noticing the lack of equality at play in terms of Wal-Mart's benefits distribution, gays are once being "militant" and "attacking marriage." It's as if peace on Earth and good will towards all are of far less importance to them during the holiday season than are "culture wars" and good will towards only Christian heterosexuals!

But whatever. Launch your little "buycott," AFA. You may help make this yet another profitable season for Wal-Mart. However, you certainly will not have helped to make it a more socially responsible or conscienable one. And those are the decisions that will matter long after the wrapping paper is recycled and the unnecessary material goods are thrown in a closet to be never again used.

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Your thoughts

The "buycott" is no big deal. Most of the people who votes anti-gay and supports groups like AFA live in these small rural towns where Wal-Mart is pretty much their only retail option anyway. It won't make much of a difference.

Posted by: Scott | Nov 26, 2007 4:46:14 PM

I tend to disagree -- I do think it makes a difference. What I have seen surrounding Walmart in the last few years is heaps and heaps of bad press... a lot of it is sticking, just look at their public image (it sucks) and their stock price (its consistently low).

While I don't think you can actually track it back to a few people not buying something because of [insert Walmart atrocity here* selections below *], what you can track is their combined disgust.

Think about it, if you combine all the folks Walmart has alienated, pissed off, shat on, neglected or put at risk, you can really start seeing a difference. So yes, I dare you, Walmart, to keep it up. Pretty soon there will be no one left to alienate, and, ergo, no more customers. While that may be a long shot, stranger things have happend.

"G.A.Y.s" -- yes, let's get mad, let's get even and let's not shop at Walmart... HRC's rating means something to us.

Moms/parents -- get mad/get even about all those recalled products they sell... most of which, I have heard, they don't even require employees to take of the shelf?

Retail workers -- get mad/get even because Walmart doesn't pay workers what they deserve, or provide healthcare, or because they sue you if you try to challenge them)

Wall Street types -- get mad/get even because ever since Lee Scott took things over, WMT shares have been a pain to own, sell, etc.

Conservatives -- get mad/get even that Walmart is teaming with commie China. And also costing taxpayers more $ due to healthcare burden they pass on.

The list goes on... but I will leave you with one more:

Me -- I am mad and getting even because Walmart has only one thing in their site: profits. While I am ok with fair competition, I am not ok with competition that cheats the American people, the environment, its employees and taxpayers. I am not ok at being at risk. And I am not ok with discrimination of any kind.

Posted by: Lyndz | Nov 26, 2007 5:46:44 PM

I wonder if the buycott, or any other like this for that matter, would encourage a corporation to make a decision more than a boycott just because they don't like the buycotters? That would be hilarious!

Posted by: | Nov 26, 2007 8:06:38 PM

Well, it certainly helps to highlight the degree to which these folks disrespect gay people and lengths to which they will go to protest them. So hopefully that alone is enough to influence not only a corporation's opinions, but also the general public's.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 26, 2007 8:09:57 PM

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