Title: McDonalds and Maxim Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 28th April 2003 - 12:00pm1051488000 Article: 72 Rights
Wellington-based gay issues researcher Craig Young ponders the suggested links between McDonalds and the fundamentalist Christian-based Maxim Institute.  McDonalds Head of Corporate Communications Liam Jeory was cited as a contact for the Maxim Institute in an article for the Christchurch Press last month, although he disavowed any corporate relationship with the Christian Right pressure group in a recent comment. He stated that he had provided communication advice to a friend within that organisation. Furthermore, Jeory stated that the fast-food corporation and its franchisees had now decided to stock the issue of "Tearaway" magazine that dealt with queer youth questions. So, what went on here, exactly? Jeory is correct that his organisation has an inclusive EEO policy that covers lesbians and gay men. Indeed, I spotted a reference to that policy in one US Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays newsletter (c1999) while I was searching for online information about any further connections that might exist between the Christian Right and McDonalds. I found no such connections. Nor does Jeory himself appear to have any discernible online linkages to the New Zealand Christian Right, beyond his instance of tactical communications advice to the Maxim Institute. It would be surprising if it were otherwise. McDonalds is a multinational corporation with diminishing international market share and cannot afford to alienate a prominent market segment like ours, although one would have thought that lesbians and gay men would be far more likely to avoid fast foods on dietary grounds, given the prominence of gym culture amongst gay men, or moral grounds, given the popularity of green, anti-globalisation and ethical vegetarian politics amongst lesbian-feminists. What about Liam Jeory? I think he has been forced to reconsider any future liaisons with the Maxim Institute due to this affair. As Jeory has shown no prior evidence of Christian Right sympathies before the reported tactical communication advisory role, it is possible that the reported earlier instance was an isolated case, and that he will desist given the adverse reaction and inferences that were made after the franchisee affair. We didn't even need to organise a boycott campaign. But what about broader issues of Christian Right corporate sponsorship? It is highly probable that any linkages that do exist are likely to come from offshore. The New Zealand Christian Right does not have sufficient pragmatism when it comes to centre-right political liaisons and pays lip service to core centre-right political issues like welfare cutbacks, industrial relations and reduction of environmental protection. While there may be some older social conservatives within the business community, many centre-right business leaders and their political associates may regard the Christian Right as single-issue, unsophisticated zealots who are a liability to their own political ambitions. The Christian Heritage Party was the only Christian Right organisation that came to the defence of the Tearaway embargo, and who listens to them nowadays? This was a storm in a teacup, and our community prevailed due to our superior mobilisational scale and a reluctant Christian Right that needs to chose its battles carefully. Craig Young - 28th April 2003    
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