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07/12/2013

Listen up, class—Ms. Gallagher will now lead you in Boycotting Ethics 101

by Jeremy Hooper

After making a point about how she doesn't really have to defend every one of NOM's actions regarding boycotts (even though she was personally
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at the shareholders meeting off which NOM launched its main boycott, the one against Starbucks), Maggie Gallagher lays out what she sees as the acceptable standards for boycotting. This is in followup to her post yesterday, in which she attempted to connect the resistance against Orson Scott Card with McCarthyism:

It’s fair to boycott a corporation as a corporation for something that corporation does as a corporation.

I think it’s unfair, destructive, and wicked to boycott a whole corporation because of the personal beliefs of one member of that corporation.

I think its repellent to boycott or blacklist an artist because of his personal views. It’s the heart of McCarthyism to me.

That said, people are free to buy tickets or not if they feel differently.

The first two I'm not going to take one. The first one is straightforward, and the second one is impertinent to anything I've witnessed in the LGBT rights movement. If it's a reference to the very prominent example of Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy, then that does not hold water. Everything he said about God judging gay people, he said as an ambassador for Chick-fil-A, in press appearances on behalf of his family business (often surrounded by Chick swag). Plus that company's charitable interests have made donations to anti-LGBT groups, and there are other company practices over the years (marriage strategy seminars, the company's retreat centers banning gay couples, etc) that connect right to the company's business practices. Any person who chooses to stay away from Chick is making a decision that goes beyond one person.

But the big one for me here is the third one, an obvious reference to Orson Scott Card. A few things about it:

  • Mr Card's views have not been personal, in the sense that he shared them at a dinner party and we overheard. Some of his worst examples (the call for overthrowing pro-equality government, for instance) came from commentaries that he wrote for well-read outlets; other bad snips came from interviews he gave to promote his public work. He is a writer and these pieces were obviously designed to shape people's thoughts. That's what commentary writers strive to do. It is more than fair for others to shape their thoughts in the other direction.

  • No one is "blacklisting" this gentleman. I am more than convinced that he will have an audience until the end of his days. There are enough people that agree with him that the public scrutiny of his anti-LGBT record could very well lead to strong support for his work. He made most all of his harsh comments years before this film went into production, and yet it still got made. He has not been put on some blanket "do not work" list—he has simply been called out for his own, volitional, targeted public expression. People are free to use their own expression to call out another; people are then free to make their consumer decisions off of the surrounding public debate.

  • McCarthyism is rooted in unfair persecution by the arm of government. Just stop it, Maggie. While you're at it, stop with the offensive "fatwa" thing, too.
  • And yes, people are free to buy tickets or not. No one is saying otherwise. But you, Maggie, are suggesting that people who stand up for their lives and families against a man who says gay people must repent and that our marriages are worthy of government overthrow are acting in a "repellent" way. That is what is truly unfair here! You are actually the one trying to silence our voice in this conversation, suggesting that people like me are out of line for simply noting what Mr. Card himself put on the record, for letting others know what Mr. Card put on the record, and for then raising questions about whether or not this is a visionary whose vision you care to support, whose profile you care to raise, and whose wallet you care to fatten. Your "ethical" take, Maggie, is the one that actually threatens fair debate and free market practice!

Personally, I'm not telling anyone to boycott anything (and never did with Chick-fil-A, either). But I am going to raise attention around Orson Scott Car'd truly jaw-dropping quote bank. That is not a "repellent" act—it is perfectly fair pushback against another public thinker's publicly shared thoughts.

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