Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dollars & Pence

Money talks, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence is listening.

It took the threat of an economic boycott and the declaration that the Hoosier State is an apartheid state to get presidential hopeful Pence to walk back his homophobic bill of hideousness. It seems that mistakes were made by the readers of the law, not by the writers of the law. Just because the law states that merchants are within their "religious" rights to deny service to the LGBT community doesn't mean that bigots don't respect the gays, whined Pence and his cohort. Their gateway drug to pre-civil rights right-wing euphoria seems to have gotten recalled before even making it out of Dr. Moreau's lab of legislative horrors. At least its toxicity might get watered down:
Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Pence said he thought the clarification was needed because of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the legislation.
He said that while the intent of the bill was not to discriminate against gay people, state officials must confront the perception that the law would allow just that. He asked lawmakers to pass legislation that would be on his desk by the end of the week.
“I believe this is a clarification — but it’s also a fix,’ Mr. Pence said. “I’m determined to address this this week.”
The law has set off a firestorm, with both critics and some supporters saying it would allow businesses to deny service to lesbian and gay customers if it offended their religious beliefs. Businesses, organizations, politicians and many celebrities have spoken out against the law, some of them canceling events in the state.
Money talks. Gay people and the people related to them and the people who do business with them spend money. Pence saw the $$$ on the wall. Although he may rely on anonymous billionaires to finance his state and national political machinations, he still relies on ordinary people for his continued professional existence. Better to pretend to swallow his bitter moral pill now so that he upchuck it back out at us later in a different form. Hate takes so many forms, and even haters are sometimes forced to pick their battles.

Although the Supreme Court has granted corporations speech rights, the granting of religious rights as cover for all manner of civil rights abuses is finally getting some blowback. When the NCAA threatens to pull the basketball championship from the Basketball State, even bigotry has to take a back seat to greed.

Which brings us to the rest of the country. Although there is no direct proof that the libertarian American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has directly orchestrated the sudden simultaneous influx of religious bigotry laws, they do have "bill mill" written all over them. The authors of the Indiana law are, in fact, members of ALEC.  And while ALEC officials deny they're behind the Indiana law and others like it, they also deny having anything to do with gun control legislation -- despite providing the template for the Stand Your Ground laws that enable the extermination of black people by thugs like George Zimmerman.

So, since the economic threat to Indiana has turned out so well, how about a boycott of not only the states passing homophobic and racist laws, but of all the  states and cities hosting ALEC conferences? Its next big confab is the annual Spring Task Force Summit on May 15 in Savannah, Georgia -- which relies very, very heavily on those millions of tourism dollars for its continued survival. How about we put our state legislatures on notice that we won't countenance spending public money to send our elected officials on this junket and others like it?

No More Trickle-Down Bigotry on the Public Dime

Gay advocacy and other civil rights groups might also spend their money to register for this event and liven things up a bit. You're apparently allowed to bring along a spouse, but not a live-in partner. The registration form actually stipulates "legal" spouse only, along with members of one's immediate, legal family. I am not kidding. Guests must wear their legal spouse name-tags at all times to seminars plotting such abominations as how to get rid of clean air and water and health care for the masses.

 The possibilities for fun are endless. And the actual summit only lasts for one day, so as to give participants plenty of time to conspicuously cavort and consume in Savannah, even take pleasure cruises to nearby Hilton Head Island. And it gives potential party crashers, both gay and straight, black and white and brown, plenty of time to picket and boycott and raise a general ruckus at every luxury venue where your local legislative grifter is caught living it up on the public dime.

Would lawmakers even dare show their faces in Savannah after the Indiana debacle? Of course they would. Because staying away would require a moral compass and the capacity for shame, which are automatic disqualifiers to ALEC membership. Any sense of shame has to be applied firmly from without and come attached with a price tag payable only by the actual venal politician caught in the act of serial perfidy.

Because money talks.


Jay–Ottawa said...

The word “boycott” is music to my ears.

Good to see it having a winning day in the press and on the deeply-pious and godly terrain of Indiana and Arkansas. I understand the big pols of New York State issued state agency travel bans against Indiana on the urging of the LGBT community. Cuomo actually signed a paper-and-ink edict for NY State’s boycotting Indiana. Senator Schumer piled on. Bless them, Lord.

If you didn’t love the LGBT community before, you gotta love ‘em now. They know how to out the frauds and boycott the bigots. By doing so they scare the wits out of god-fearing business types and the hypocrite pols.

Boycotts must be focused and publicized. ALEC would be a good place to practice using the powerful boycott tool, but it’s beyond the direct usage of most consumers. Working for goals indirectly through representatives has its shortcomings, have you heard? On the other hand, actually attending ALEC fests sounds like fun and is a supportive use of street theater more than boycotts.

If I were an average American in Indiana, I would get down on my knees every day to pray for a successful national boycott of, say, Georgia Pacific (Koch). Its wood products cover the the construction industry and are used by lots of carpenters in and out of unions. G-P wood takes up lots of space in places like Home Depot and Lowe's.

Imagine amateur and professional carpenters refusing to work with Georgia Pacific stock. And other trades, like plumbers and electricians, refusing to do their thing until the carpenters get off the picket line for replacing Koch products. Dreams are my substitute for Hope. But ALEC will do for now, just so long as we eventually make boycotts a habit.

Did I mention BOYCOTTS yet as a way of getting the corporations to heel?

Meredith New York said...

Jay....like you say, ALEC would be a good place to practice using the powerful boycott tool, but it’s beyond the direct usage of most consumers.

This Indiana situation is easy to spotlight, publicize and boycott. it's a particular case of blatant and direct personal bias under a smokescreen of religiosity, and it's easy to trace to the source. A small business in a particular state, per an explicit law by a named politician is refusing service to a separate group.

How to use consumer action against big conglomerates who tether their politicians with campaign money? That is very complicated. The question has to be framed properly 1st. Occupy could not translate it's goals into political action.