|Hit homophobes where it hurts, advises Craig Young Should we actively engage in boycotts of businesses that support New Zealand fundamentalist pressure groups?
I would argue that this should be the case. Why not? Should we be purchasingproducts and services from organisations that then turn around and provide funding for Christian Right pressure groups, which have attacked us since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1986, as well as every other issue of substantive legislative equality since then, and will continue to do so when it comes to same-sex marriage proper and inclusive adoption reform?
At present, it's Family First that is the most vocal in its opposition to the latter reforms, and it has foolishly provided a list of companies that provide goods and services, or financial support, to that organisation's so-called Forums on The Family. We are entitled to object to this, decide not to purchase these products or services from those businesses, and inform these businesses why we have withdrawn our custom from their premises. If they turn out to be fundamentalist-run businesses, then there may be interest from others equally concerned about aggressive and militant fundamentalist political tactics, like women who support the right to choose abortion, supporters of Section 59 Repeal, or others.
Some might argue about the effectiveness of boycotts as a political strategy. However, it did destroy Anita Bryant's music career and sponsorship deals after she became ringleader of an antigay political effort in Florida in the late seventies, and was similarly effective in Colorado in the early nineties after a pro-discrimination citizens referenda led to a series of court cases that struck down the offending decision. There is also the New Zealand precedent of boycotting products and services connected to South Africa during the apartheid era, which also had its desired effect.
Why shouldn't we get tough with our political opponents? Granted, they have the right to free speech as private citizens. If they're business owners that serve the general public, though, they need to realise that mainstream marketplaces are unsympathetic to vocal and overthomophobia. If they are destroying the value of a product or service too, then what about shareholders in this context? They have the right to demand withdrawal of subsidies to Christian Right pressure groups if they don't agree with their values or objectives. If they don't obtain those internal reforms, divestment may follow from offending companies.
Who are the offending companies? As Dierdre Mussen noted in a February Sunday Star Times article (24.02.08), Family First had three major business backers- Integrity Trade Services (Christchurch- fridges, air conditioning and electrical goods): Frontline Technologies (Auckland- printing machinery supply); and Mortgage Express, a Harcourts real estate subsidiary.
On their latest flier, Family First lists several new business sponsors- 24Seven, Go! Logistics, Jireh Consulting Services, Infinity Lighting, Integrity Gas, Learning Options, Waiwera Artesian Water, Mossops ("Naturally New Zealand"), and the New Zealand School of Commercial Diver Training.
Why shouldn't we express our offence at subsidisation of homophobia? Family First itself does so when it comes to Hells Pizza and anything involving sex on television, so perhaps turnabout is fair play?
Dierdre Mussen "Family Values" Sunday Star Times: 24.02.08: A8: http://www.stuff.co.nz/
Monroe Friedman: Consumer Boycotts: Effecting Change through the Marketplace and Media: New York: Routledge: 1999.
S.Sen: "Marketing and Minority Civil Rights: The Case of Amendment 2 and the Colorado Boycott" Journal of Public Policy and Marketing: 15: 311-318.
N.Craig Smith: Morality and the Market: Consumer Consumer Pressure for Corporate Availability: London: Routledge: 1990.
Family First (Christian Right pressure group) Craig Young - 9th August 2008