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08/15/2011

Justified pushback leads to company's free choice; cue far-right's war on merit

by Jeremy Hooper

You don't have to know any of the details, really. In this case, all you have to know is that a summit was scheduled, a CEO was booked, and eyebrows were raised. And you also need to know that when the facts were weighed, the CEO decided, on his and his business' own accord, that the collectively raised eyebrows were of more concern than was the one booked gig. For this discussion, those are your only entrance requirements.

So that out of the way, let's now hear from Focus on the Family:


*AUDIO SOURCE: Activist Bullies Starbucks CEO out of Conference [FoTF Citizenlink]

Bullying. That's how Focus on the Family, a group whose national profile and work in other areas has long been dwarfed by its overt anti-gay efforts, is framing one coffee mega-chain's corporate decision. For FoTF, the main story here is not about this church and what it did or did not teach. There's no attempt to deny or spin what the church has or has not said in the past or present. There's no deep opining over the nature of corporate America or even the supposed stranglehold that LGBT America has on the business world. What FoTF wants its listeners to believe is that gay people are big meanies who have the tyrannical ability to strong-arm Fortune 500 Executives into anything we wish.

What element is missing from the anti-equality side of the discussion, as per always? Merit. Credence. Value. Right vs. Wrong. The praise/criticism scale that naturally flows from reasoned scrutiny. The Focus on the Family staffers give no acknowledgment of the fact that all socio-political matters, particularly ones pertaining to companies with bottom lines to protect, are subject to this same scrutiny scale. These social conservatives ignore this point because they don't want people realizing that this is once again a fleshing out of the fact that the aggressively anti-LGBT words and actions of groups like Focus on the Family *always lose out* when such a probe is put before the public (*See the TOMS incident this summer; NCAA in 2010; etc.). On this playground, they want to be free to scream "Johnny pushed me" without owning up to the fact that they've been teasing and taunting Johnny and his "lifestyle" since recesses long ago. They want to be free from the burdens of an intellectual marketplace that's more and more proving the unsustainability of anti-LGBT bias.

Not to mention that in this Starbucks case, there was no boycott threat, despite what Carrie Gordon Earll says in the report. The Change.org petition simply called for the Starbucks CEO to denounce the anti-gay/pro-"ex-gay" views that Willow Creek Church has pushed. In fact, there wasn't even a direct call for Schultz to step away from the conference, only a call for him to address the concerns. But again, you don't even have to know any of those points to understand what's going on here. In fact, this is one where the minutiae can actually bog down the child-simple understanding of the game at play. Because this is not something that is particular to this one situation, group, booking, or Venti Latte purveyor. No, no -- the constantly-hands-cleaning anti-equality crowd's attempt to strip away merit from the conversation is all part of the larger, sweeping victimization strategy that has long muddied the "culture war" conversation. The very same conversation that our responsibility-shirking opposition chose to start, with the idea that basic fairness constitutes a "war" itself built on victimization.

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