Boycotts, Bathrooms, and the Boss

bruce_springsteenThis past Sunday, Bruce Springsteen was scheduled to play a concert in Greensboro, NC. He canceled the concert, citing opposition to the recently passed HB2, the “bathroom bill”, which he labeled discriminatory against the transgendered community.  Three weeks ago, Disney and several other companies, state governments, and individuals threatened to boycott the state of Georgia if Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill with similar legislation. He folded to the pressure and vetoed that bill. In 2010, a similar boycott of the state of Arizona was launched in opposition to SB 1070, a bill which strengthened immigration laws.

Never mind that the people boycotting these states haven’t read or don’t understand what’s in these bills. If they did, they might stop hyperventilating and calling everyone they disagree with bigots. Let’s assume for a moment the bills that liberals cite as their reasons for boycotting entire states are really as horrible as they say. Their boycotts are ineffective.

In fact, boycotts, in general, are ineffective. Greenpeace and other groups called for a boycott of Exxon following the Valdez oil spill. Here in my home state of Washington, Exxon gas stations disappeared fairly quickly. But not for long. And my guess is, even while Exxon signage was “gone”, the company itself was probably still raking in bucks from Washington. And now, of course, ExxonMobil is the largest oil company in the world.

Even sanctions, legally enforced boycotts of entire nations, are not nearly effective as supporters claim. Tin-pot dictators are very adept at illegally funding their dictatorships and sanctions typically hurt the masses much more than they hurt the leaders. (Not that I’m saying we should do away with sanctions; they still have their place, are much more effective than voluntary boycotts, and do help to stifle the flow of funds to said dictators. Besides, regardless of sanctions, money rarely gets to the masses anyway in third-world states. There’s always another Ferrari to buy for Uday or Kusay, after all.)

Yes, for the most part, boycotts are nothing more than feel-good endeavors that help buoy the self-righteousness of the boycotter, and may, at best, make the company being boycotted look up for half-a-second until the next squirrel races by for the masses to follow. (“Oh, look! Monsanto!”)

And boycotting an entire state, at least voluntarily, i.e. not through sanctions, is the most ineffective boycott of all because it is near impossible to boycott an entire state in today’s interconnected world. You want to boycott North Carolina, Mr. Springsteen? Okay. Better make sure none of your millions find their way through a Bank of America account. And no sleeping on a Sealy mattress tonight. That Hanes undershirt you’re wearing? Scrap it. Same with the Burt’s Bees you just put on those talented lips of yours. All those “evil corporations” are headquartered in North Carolina. And you’d better cancel that upcoming tour stop in Italy as well. They still don’t even recognize gay marriage!

And what about Disney? Certainly no small potatoes compared to yesterday’s rock star. They’re one of the largest media companies in the world and spend millions of dollars on production in the state of Georgia every year. Disney threatening to boycott Georgia certainly made Governor Deal’s decision to veto HB 757 a bit easier but it wasn’t the deciding factor I’m sure. And if it was, he’s clearly not adept at making deals. I would have played chicken with the Mouse. Again, a squirrel would have run by in a matter of months and Disney would have been back to filming all sorts of movies and TV shows in the home of the Falcons (and herein ends the animal references). Curiously, Disney didn’t seem to have a problem distributing Force Awakens, which was filmed in the United Arab Emirates, a nation that actually murders people for simply engaging in same-sex activities. (To be fair, I’m not sure where they come down on transgendered bathroom use.)

So, we’ve established liberals boycott because they want to feel good about themselves. They’re also notorious hypocrites so that argument falls on deaf ears. But what about hurting those you’re aiming to help?

Liberals love to point out the evils of sanctions because, as mentioned above, they disproportionally fall on the backs of the downtrodden masses.  And an argument can be made that engaging with one’s foe will do more than stonewalling him. This is even more so the case when one’s foe is not a bloodthirsty dictator. I know liberals love to equate murderous thugs like Kim Jong Un and “evil Christian bigots” like those at Focus on the Family or Chick-fil-A, but if they actually took a moment to listen to Jim Daly or Dan Cathy, they’d realize there’s actually quite a bit of difference.

But, okay, okay, let’s go even further and assume they’re right and everyone who voted for North Carolina’s HB2 and everyone who voted for those people are really hate-filled homophobes that want to send every transgendered person in the state to a re-education camp where they’ll be thumped by Bibles 24/7. Are these the same people who would attend a Bruce Springsteen concert? Actually, yes. Unlike liberals who would rather stand in a downpour than take an umbrella from someone with whom they disagree, those of us on the right can separate the fact that good music can be made by people with whom we disagree politically and our entire outlook on life isn’t going to be defeated by listening to a little Born in the U.S.A. Heck, even Ronald Reagan used it as a campaign theme for a while until Springsteen threw a fit over that because, again, “tolerant” liberals simply can’t tolerate things like that.

But I’ll go yet one step further. Let’s say that those supporting HB2 would never be caught dead at a Bruce Springsteen concert and the whole audience agrees with Bruce. That only makes the argument stronger. Refusing to play a concert in a state that has policies you disagree with doesn’t hurt the people with whom you disagree, it hurts the people with whom you agree and those you seek to help.

If Bruce Springsteen and his followers want to change the political tide in North Carolina, the best thing he could have done is play his concert in Greensboro and, between songs, give a heartfelt plea to those in attendance to rally for the cause. Who knows, maybe a few folks not in his camp may even have been persuaded.

And with Disney and Georgia, assuming that bill hadn’t been vetoed, Disney’s impact could have been even greater. I’m assuming that the majority of the people in the entertainment industry were opposed to Georgia’s religious freedom bill, so how much better would it have been to put money in those people’s pockets by filming in Georgia; money that could have gone on to elect people who are more amiable to Disney’s views?

So, liberal boycotters (and conservative boycotters for that matter), be the change you want to see in the world! Engage! You’re sure to change more views from inside the state than screaming at it from the outside, even if you can scream as loud as Bruce Springsteen.

Cross posted at

Amanda Knox found guilty

I haven’t been following every moment of the Amanda Knox trial but I’ve followed it enough to be of the opinion that what happened in Perugia today was a tragedy.

Yes, there was some evidence that indicated Knox may have been involved. Chances are she isn’t completely innocent but anyone accused of a crime rarely is. The travesty in my mind is that she and her boyfriend appear far from guilty and, even in Italy, the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Furthermore, there has been so much that has gone wrong with this trial that, had it been held in the US a mistrial would have been declared long ago. From the charges of abuse of power leveled against the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, to the contaminated evidence, there was just too much that didn’t make sense.

Knox’s defense attorney, Luciano Ghirga, referring to the fact that Knox could have been sentenced to life, said it well. “I am not at peace. They didn’t have the courage to go all the way. It is a judicial compromise.”

Our own Maria Cantwell also offered a theory that I considered as well. “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

I commend Senator Cantwell for having the courage to say what a lot of folks might not consider politically correct and for pledging to follow up through diplomatic channels so all that is possible may be done to resolve this in a way preferable to Knox.

And speaking of American political response to the verdict, I actually feel for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton here. They will have a fine line to walk.

If they do nothing they’re allowing the justice system of an ally to take its course. Considering the way Obama has dealt with the world (bowing to foreign leaders, etc.) this past year, this may be what happens. Maybe a good idea if they don’t want to appear to be forcing America’s will on Italy. A bad idea because they’d be allowing a US citizen to go to prison for 25 years for a crime it’s uncertain she committed.

Of course, if they do intervene, the opposite is true. They’ll be coming to the rescue of Knox but Italians might accuse America of trying to push its weight around and being conceited.

The best idea, no joke, would be to send someone like Bill Clinton (or maybe, and I say this with tongue-in-cheek, Jesse Jackson). He did well freeing the Americans in North Korea.

But let’s hope that it doesn’t need to come to this. Let’s hope that Knox will be found not guilty on appeal and allowed to return to the United States by next Christmas.


The Loss of Spirituality

In a society constantly bombarded by images of sex, fame, fortune and violence it can be very easy for someone to lose sight of the things that really matter in life; the things that bring about true, eternal happiness.

In youth we are cavalier, impressionable, possibly a bit shallow and, let’s face it, stupid. We are prone to doing things that make us cool or popular; things that give us an oftentimes unhealthy rush. It is a childish existence we lead during our adolescent lives and those who fail to break free of these activities are prone to a “Peter Pan” syndrome, one much worse than that of the past. The symptoms of today’s post-collegiate child are no longer just innocent horseplay and a propensity to find a woman to do his laundry or a man to pay her bills. They’re much worse now with the introduction of shows like South Park and celebs like Britney Spears, which are targeted at prepubescent boys and girls but are better designed for a mature audience. With these stimuli, our youth, left unchecked, become complacent to sex. It becomes a topic thrown around as loosely as yesterday’s baseball scores.

And then, of course, there is the violence. Both TV and print media, driven by the almighty dollar, market this atrocious “news” as part of the modern sensationalist zeitgeist plaguing our society. But they are not the worst, for in all fairness, they are only broadcasting what others have created. It is the creation of a new stream of Reality TV, combined with other, now commonplace, entertainment like WWF and Hollywood blockbusters featuring ruthless terrorism and serial murder.

All of this then relates to fortune. Sex and violence sells and the profits beget nothing more than sex, violence and fame. The final piece to this puzzle of non-spirituality is the new ambiguity created by things like automatic bill paying, chatrooms and telecommuting. We shut ourselves in our private spaces and hardly venture out for the light of day, leaving us with a false sense of accountability for our actions. We sit in front of our computers and TV screens, entertaining fantasies and visions of grandeur.

So what is our escape? How do we remove ourselves from this downward spiral of debauchery and self indulgence? We break the mold of post-modern artificiality and make a return to a more natural way of life and traditional values. We begin anew, dedicated to the restoration of truth, peace and enlightenment.

In order to make a real effort in reaching this goal we must educate our youth not just in the traditional way but also in a the subjects of values and spirituality. It means taking interest in them as people and showing, too, that we are people. It means turning off the TV and the computer, the idle chatter and the empty promises. Love can not be found in a box and caring can not be found from a modem. Spirituality and the way to happiness can really only be found in the simple things in life, those that carry no price tags. The true happiness that comes from spirituality comes from smelling a rose, beholding a sunset, hearing the laughter of a child or feeling the warmth of someone who loves you and whom you love, truly, as well. These things may scream cliché but they are the foundations of a good life for years to come. And even if we can’t rid ourselves of many of the modern conveniences that make our lives easier and sometimes more enjoyable in certain ways, we should at least pause from time to time and reflect on what these current habits lead us toward.