}

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Corporate targets

There’s nothing like a corporation doing something “wrong” to get people all riled up. In the US, one of the surest ways to rouse the masses is to accuse a corporation of giving money in support of or against an issue one cares very strongly about. Anger escalates into outrage that must be defended for its own sake, probably through boycotts.

Is that fair? Well, yes, actually, it is. Living in a democracy means people are free to make economic decisions based on their values, regardless of whether anyone else thinks that decision is sensible.

Corporations are not, despite the legal fiction now enshrined by the US Supreme Court, people. They exist for one purpose only: To maximise return to shareholders. They do that by maximising profits and minimising costs. There’s nothing inherently evil in that, even if some corporations act evilly in the pursuit of those goals. However, they’re ultimately accountable only to their shareholders.

If a corporation spends its money in support of or in opposition to the ideology or values of consumers, why shouldn’t they take their business elsewhere? This question entered the blogosphere because it was revealed that US “big box” discount retailer Target used the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate spending on campaigns to give $150,000 to an organisation supporting Tom Emmer, a rightwing Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota (where Target is based). Emmer wants, among other things, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—and civil unions, too.

Emmer, in turn, has given money to a rabidly anti-gay radio host and member of a Christian “punk rock” band who once spoke approvingly of Muslims executing gay people (among other viciously anti-gay things). Emmer said of the band, “These are nice people" which apparently makes their hate speech all okay. The band—which is actually a fundamentalist “Christian ministry”—has been at many Republican functions in the state, so the Minnesota Republican Party clearly approves of the band’s stridently anti-gay message, and so, obviously, does Tom Emmer (even after the call for executions had been made, Emmer stood by the band).

However, it appears that none of Target’s money went to the bigot, though support for a clearly anti-gay politician is bad enough. What the heck was Target thinking? It has a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s “Corporate Equality Index” (which, by the way, doesn’t even look at campaign contributions), it offers “domestic partner” benefits, sponsors Twin Cities Pride and the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, among other things. CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a letter to staffers: “Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.”

What’s going on then? How can a pro-gay company support a clearly anti-gay politician who supports anti-gay hatred? “Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth,” Steinhafel told staff. In other words, corporate interests trump “unwavering” support for the GLBT community as well as “inclusiveness”.

Evil company! Boycott them, right? Well, not so fast.

Remember their sole obligation? To be blunt, being gay–supportive doesn’t maximise return to shareholders, backing conservative politicians who’ll back corporate interests, corporations believe, will. There’s nothing unique about a business looking to advance a political agenda to help it accomplish its mission, but it IS unusual for a company to have pro-gay policies. Think of competitor Wal-Mart, for example, which is NOT committed to either “support of the GLBT community” nor is inclusiveness a core value of the company (they’re also stridently anti-union, but that’s another topic).

It may seem schizophrenic for a company to support GLBT workers on the one hand while using the other to give money to support politicians who aim to make life worse for those same GLBT employees. Keeping the workforce happy while making things friendlier for advancement of the corporation are actually consistent. In both cases, the goal is to maximise return to shareholders, and the needs of the workers are secondary. That’s the way it is in corporate business.

So, what’s a consumer to do? People who care about GLBT equality generally, or marriage equality specifically, may want to refrain from shopping at Target, at least until this campaign is over. That is absolutely their right, and I support anyone who chooses that stance, even if they walk away permanently.

However, for other people the fact that Target supports its GLBT workers (at least within the context of the workplace and some limited ways outside of it) may be more important than the money given to elect an anti-gay politician. Such people might continue to shop at Target, and I support that right, too (although, personally, I think they should make a donation to Emmer’s opponent).

The bottom line, so to speak, is that until the law changes, corporations have the right to spend as much money as they want in any election campaign—and consumers have the right to “vote with their wallets” and shop elsewhere because of that campaign funding—or not.

If I lived in Minnesota, I suspect that I’d refrain from shopping at Target until the election was over AND give money to Emmer’s opponent. If I lived elsewhere in the US, I’d probably just do the first.

Target is a pretty gay-friendly company, after all, but I couldn’t in good conscience give them my money so they could help elect a candidate who was against my interests and only for theirs. If enough people did the same, they’d have to decide if promotion of corporate interests over their “unwavering support” and “core value” of diversity is worth it.

So: What would you do?

Related: We talk about this topic, and the issues around it, on the lates 2Political Podcast (2PP034 – 28 July 2010), beginning roughly 24 minutes into the episode. It was recorded before I wrote this post.

20 comments:

Honey said...

I will no longer shop at Target. There are plenty of other options in my area. I know their bottom line is to the shareholders and they have been very gay friendly in the past but knowing that they are supporting someone who doesn't support me means they lose my business. Period. :)

epilonious said...

I'll continue to shop at Target and advocate others do as well.

If the boycott gets serious enough... it will probably just hurt the entire corporation's financial positions, which means layoffs... which will hurt all the Target employees LGBT or not.

Meanwhile, if "icky" Republican gets elected (which I think is highly unlikely in Minnesota) and offers massive corporate tax breaks(or other benefits) and further bolsters Target's financial positions and earnings (which I imagine is the promise/hope if Target is supporting them) it means more stable jobs and probably raises and bonuses, which will probably more directly impact and improve the lives of the employees (LGBT or not).

I've always hated the idea of "wah, decision we don't like, we have to boycott them now". Such boycotts are often painfully myopic because the chances of hurting the folks who made the icky decision are so slim and the chances of hurting the rest of the employees who don't really have a say in the decision are much greater.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Honey: Is that permanent, or can they get your business back? If so, what would they have to do? I ask because this case, unlike so many others, isn't clear-cut. But, whether permanent or not, I of course respect and support your choice.

epilonious: I respect and support your choice, too. However, I disagree with some of the assumptions you're making.

First, it's not a given that lay-offs would result from a successful boycott—quite the opposite, really, because historically most companies cave long before it gets to that point.

Also, this particular Republican is more than just "icky" because he would, if elected, seek to make things worse for GLBT Minnesotans, whether they work for Target or not.
Also, there's a possibility he could be elected—the current governor is a Republican, after all.

I agree that Republican policies "like massive corporate tax breaks (or other benefits)" probably would "further bolster Target's financial positions and earnings" which, as you suggested, is the whole reason Target supports the Republican.

However, as a liberal Democrat, I strongly disagree that it would mean "more stable jobs and probably raises and bonuses, which will probably more directly impact and improve the lives of the employees (LGBT or not)." No, it would result in higher dividends to shareholders, with little or no benefit to employees, apart from the company continuing to be able to employ them (which IS important).

One of the points I've been trying to make is, basically, that businesses are not charities. I believe it's silly to suggest they ever have altruistic or noble motives, even if they sometimes do things that could be labelled that way. Their sole duty is to their shareholders.

Mostly, though, I disagree with you about the futility of boycotts. They have historically been very effective in causing change in corporate policies (mostly because it increases costs/risks and may reduce returns to shareholders). As I said, corporations usually fold long before powerless workers are affected.

But here's my question for you: If you went to a restaurant and were served bad food, at some stage you'd take your business elsewhere. If you dealt with a store or service that was consistently bad—incompetent, rude, or just unsatisfactory or whatever, you'd take your business elsewhere. How is that any different from a consumer taking their business away from a company that does something against their interests or values? Are you saying that the consumer has no choice about doing business with a company that offers "bad values" as opposed to bad service or products? I'm not being snarky, btw, I'm seriously probing to see what you see as the limits of consumer choice (which, I must point out, is something you're using in deciding to shop at Target).

epilonious said...

If you went to a restaurant and were served bad food, at some stage you'd take your business elsewhere.

Actually, I am extremely forgiving with restaurants. I go "oh, they were having a bad day" or "oh, they season it a way that I don't like, I'll try something else"... and go back until I find something I like and stick with it. There have been very few times where everything was horrible or something was changed so drastically that I didn't want to go back... most of the time I stop going because someone else decides they hate the place and promises to be a pill if they are forced to go there.

Meanwhile, in the case of bad service I still overtip and just assume whichever waitstaff was training or having a crap day... this stems from years working as a pizza driver.


If you dealt with a store or service that was consistently bad—incompetent, rude, or just unsatisfactory or whatever, you'd take your business elsewhere.

Again... I tend to be forgiving: I'll assume whatever store staff is having some issues during whatever season and try not to be too much of a pain-in-the-ass customer. This stems from years of working retail.

If I like the pants the store sells, I'll just avoid the really bitchy employee the next time I go back... and I wont much care if the cotton for the cloth was produced by farmers that didn't use the trendiest brand of eco-friendly pollination consultants...

How is that any different from a consumer taking their business away from a company that does something against their interests or values? Are you saying that the consumer has no choice about doing business with a company that offers "bad values" as opposed to bad service or products? I'm not being snarky, btw, I'm seriously probing to see what you see as the limits of consumer choice (which, I must point out, is something you're using in deciding to shop at Target).

I feel like your examples are hyperbolic... Very Few stores/restaurants/gas-stations/whatever have ever been So Awful So Consistently that I couldn't go there ever again. I also feel like the idea of organize ones entire life around ones sexuality (or diet preferences, or activism) is hyperbolic.

I don't read target giving some money to a Republican as a tremendous slap in the face to the gay community. Merely a possible nuisance to some gay folks in Minnesota (should whomever get elected and should he ram through mean legislation and and and). Furthermore, if Target gave a million-billion dollars to Marry-Them-Gays-Minnesota-Edition I wouldn't be super-elated and thankful and feel like it had a direct effect on my life. Are there places I'd rather have them spend the money? Sure. Do I have enough interest to buy Target stock and start voting in shareholder meetings? No. Frankly I feel like it's a minor PR Gaffe that will cause excoriating salvos from Professional Gay Bloggers that I don't respect that much anyways (as they all have a streak of "if you don't agree with me, you're secretly self-loathing and homophobic" which flips my bozo-bit)

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

They may seem hyperbolical examples to you, but my intent was to use the simplest examples possible. To me the examples aren’t exaggerated because over my lifetime I’ve stopped patronising many businesses for the kinds of reasons in my examples.

It’s not necessarily my first response, and I usually give the business the benefit of the doubt and give them another go—sometimes more, sometimes not. In the case of Target, this means giving them the chance to explain themselves and, possibly, make amends.

The issue in this particular case gets at something we’ve talked about before: I absolutely believe that GLBT people have every right to refuse to patronise a business because of anti-gay policies or behaviours. The question for me would be, is this serious enough?

Contrary to being “merely a possible nuisance to some gay folks in Minnesota”, this has profound implications for them and GLBT people nationally. The guy wants to outlaw same sex marriage AND civil unions in his state, which would directly affect gay Minnesotans. It would also probably make Target’s own “domestic partners” benefits illegal in that state. More importantly, perhaps, it would mean another state’s constitution would enshrine bigotry, and that emboldens our adversaries and frightens our weakest supporters.

I would also argue that if Target gave a big pile of cash to, say, Freedom to Marry and publicly announced it disagrees with Emmer on marriage equality, that could have a nationwide effect: Giving other corporations courage to support our community and sending a signal to Republicans that support by the corporate sector is not absolute, automatic or without limits.

You touched on an interesting thing I haven’t: Buying shares in an attempt to influence corporate policy. This is an effective tactic the christianist right has used successfully. For example, one reason Exxon-Mobil keeps voting down “domestic partner” benefits (the ones Exxon cancelled when they took over Mobil) is because fundies bought shares so they could vote and pressure other shareholders to keep the dirty homos from getting any benefits. Our side doesn’t do shareholder activism (and, like you, I don’t personally have an interest in it, though I wouldn’t do that living overseas, anyway), but I personally believe it would be more effective than consumer boycotts.

I have no idea if this will turn out to be a minor PR gaffe or something bigger, but I’m more interested in the unusual questions this raises. It’s also the first time we’ve seen any backlash to a corporation using the SCOTUS-approved right to spend gazillions of dollars electioneering, though that’s not the focus of the backlash—or even talked about very much, sadly.

BTW, I seldom make judgements about folks who disagree with me, and even then it’s not about folks being “secretly self-loathing and homophobic”. I just thought I’d mention that so your bozo-bit can remain unflipped. ☺

epilonious said...

Pt. 1

They may seem hyperbolical examples to you, but my intent was to use the simplest examples possible. To me the examples aren’t exaggerated because over my lifetime I’ve stopped patronising many businesses for the kinds of reasons in my examples.

Yes... but you went to those now-maligned businesses for a product they were presumably advertising that you didn't like or thought was underwhelming. You didn't go to the clothes store for gay rights, you went there for clothes, and most likely stopped because the clothes were too expensive or shoddily made or there were bad staff between you and the purchase of the clothes... Also, you went to restaurants for food, not the gay rights... and you presumably stopped going because you didn't like the food or it cost too much or it took too long to get to your table...

And in the case of Target, I go there when I want a plate and a mug and silverware so I don't have too keep using the styrofoam ones with Free Work Dinner... or Shampoo... or new blade heads for a Norelco I don't go there to buy gay rights, nor do I feel like the $20 I spend on whatever will go to fuel evil upon gay people. It will mostly go to Clairol and Norelco and the flatware maker... and a little bit on top of that will go to employees of target-co.

So maybe one cent will make it to Evil McJackass, but I'm not gonna stop shopping there because of it. Even if Evil McJackass was in my state. My state has plenty of Evil McJackasses in it's political ranks... ironically they tend to get more done than a lot of the Nepotism McLazypantses that are supposedly on "my side".

Meanwhile... employees at Target... I don't get benefitted by their gay rights. I get benefitted by the gay rights of my own company... which are also very nice... and I still work here even though I'm sure a lot of the higherups are aligned with political parties that are aligned with religious nutbags who really hate gay rhetoric... and I'm alright with that.

I'm just too pragmatic to make that leap where a random-goods store like Target is to be punished for daring to donate to someone who made political promises to assuage folks who disliked gay rhetoric. I can completely understand why they did it, I think the actual risks are low, and frankly I feel this whole kerfuffle is just another big gay whinge. The kind that is more distracting than helpful because it makes it seem like you are helping gay rights by not shopping certain places... as opposed to being open minded and befriending people who don't think like-you-do and gaining compassion for your causes by being decent and helpful and pleasant.

The issue in this particular case gets at something we’ve talked about before: I absolutely believe that GLBT people have every right to refuse to patronise a business because of anti-gay policies or behaviours. The question for me would be, is this serious enough?

My answer is an emphatic no.

epilonious said...

pt. 2


Contrary to being “merely a possible nuisance to some gay folks in Minnesota”, this has profound implications for them and GLBT people nationally. The guy wants to outlaw same sex marriage AND civil unions in his state, which would directly affect gay Minnesotans. It would also probably make Target’s own “domestic partners” benefits illegal in that state. More importantly, perhaps, it would mean another state’s constitution would enshrine bigotry, and that emboldens our adversaries and frightens our weakest supporters.

I'm dismissing this as a melodrama. I highly doubt there is a shred of a chance of that happening in Minnesota... and if it did there would be a SERIOUS backlash. Hell, part of me feels like Minnesotans are kicking themselves for letting Iowa beat them to it.

I would also argue that if Target gave a big pile of cash to, say, Freedom to Marry and publicly announced it disagrees with Emmer on marriage equality, that could have a nationwide effect: Giving other corporations courage to support our community and sending a signal to Republicans that support by the corporate sector is not absolute, automatic or without limits.

It'd be nice... but I feel it would also piss off a lot of people that they bothered to bring it up and probably turn into a PR nightmare.

You touched on an interesting thing I haven’t: Buying shares in an attempt to influence corporate policy. This is an effective tactic the christianist right has used successfully. For example, one reason Exxon-Mobil keeps voting down “domestic partner” benefits (the ones Exxon cancelled when they took over Mobil) is because fundies bought shares so they could vote and pressure other shareholders to keep the dirty homos from getting any benefits. Our side doesn’t do shareholder activism (and, like you, I don’t personally have an interest in it, though I wouldn’t do that living overseas, anyway), but I personally believe it would be more effective than consumer boycotts.

Stocks are for investing, houses are for living-in, and insurance is for emergencies. Mixing those up is folly.



BTW, I seldom make judgements about folks who disagree with me, and even then it’s not about folks being “secretly self-loathing and homophobic”. I just thought I’d mention that so your bozo-bit can remain unflipped. ☺

You never were... and I stopped going to the places that I felt had that attitude a long time ago.

Roger Owen Green said...

i suppose I should read the long duologue between you and epilonious, but I shan't, because I just woke up, though I did skim it.
Probably later.

To a secondary point, Arthur, I mildly disagree that having a gay-friendly policy doesn't affect the bottom line, though I suppose not to not a great enough amount. Happy employees tend to be productive employees who give good customer service. Moreover, a gay-friendly store will glean the support not only of gays but those "gay friendly", oer whatever's the right term.
You note Wal-Mart where I DON'T shop for a lot of reasons. It's very profitable, yes, in large part because it controls the means of distribution. But might iot not be even MORE profitable, MORE successful if it were not...OK, I'll say it...EVIL? Some people shop at Wal-Mart for the prices, but others because tEWal-Mart has driven out the hardware store, the music store, even the grocery store.

To the primary point, I probably shop at Target, to the degree I shop at all, unless I live in Minnesota.

there's an old blues line that came to mind: "don't let your left hand know what your right hand do."

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm awake now. epilonious- you have way nore tolerance about bad food, bad service. One time I might let go, if I hasd had a string of good experiences before that. But for restaurants, as you probably know, it IS the service that is everything, so if I get lousy service, I'm less likely to come back. There are a lot of restaurants.

But to my mind, Arthur, there aren't that many options to Wal-Mart AND Target that are reasonably priced and available almost everywhere (useful when giving gift cards). The little I shop, I could go to several stores I don't know or have found overpriced (Macy's immediately comes to mind), or I could go to Wal-Mart or Target. I LOATHE shopping.
E- I agree w Arthur on boycotts. They can be effective, though they take a while, usually. It eventually got rid of Anita Bryant plugging orange juice; not everyone stopped drinking it, or not even most people, but enough did that it was noticeable to the bottom line.

Honey said...

I have myopathy. I will no longer be shopping at Target...FOREVER! I don't care about big business like others do. If you run a business that doesn't support me, then I will not be supporting you and I will be encouraging others not to support you either. I'm selfish that way.

It's like I no longer buy gas at Exxon..or Mobil..for two reasons...the oil spill and the fact that the shareholders voted down benefits for same sex partners when Exxon merged with Mobil. They no longer deserve my money.

I can and do shop based on what I think is important.

Moosep and Buddy Rabbit said...

I decided to stop shopping at Target because of the campaign contribution. I don't know how long before I go back.

Back in the 70's when A Bryant was pushing Florida Orange Juice and her right wing anti-gay agenda, I gave up oranges & orange juice from Florida. I would only buy either if it carried a CA label; which was hard to find in NC.

I gave up OJ, which I really like, for over 5 years. Now, I suspect Target will be held to a similar standard. I'm prepared to give up Target for many years if I have to.

It will be hard to do. I love shopping at Target & I drive right by it on my way home from work. But I'm going to pass by from now on.

It's great Target treats their GLBT employees nicely, but to give money to someone who could do harm to our community, to me, is indefensible.

I review companies' GLBT records when making purchases.

For example: I don't buy computer parts from AMD because they have a low rating from HRC for GLBT issues. I changed cell phone companies because Alltel had a low rating.

One of the biggest ways our community can influence companies, is with our buying power. We don't have the numbers to win elections on our own, but we can hurt the bottom line of a company.

With the new ruling that companies can dump money into elections, our buying power will become more important. We can steer companies to do right by us through boycotts or by our patronage.

And we need to tell companies when they have lost our support.

epilonious said...

I have myopathy.

I believe you mean "myopia". Myopathy is a muscular disorder, myopia (and being myopic) is short-sightedness... and philosophically it's not something to be proud of because it essentially means you're happy/proud to be a complete tool.

It's like I no longer buy gas at Exxon..or Mobil..for two reasons...the oil spill and the fact that the shareholders voted down benefits for same sex partners when Exxon merged with Mobil. They no longer deserve my money.

Ironically, they still get your money... because they are one of the biggest oil producers... and whatever gas stations you choose to shop at probably buys oil/gas from exxon/mobil on a regular basis because they happened to be cheapest that season... and they know that most gasoline shoppers care primarily about price.

I will no longer be shopping at Target...FOREVER! I don't care about big business like others do. If you run a business that doesn't support me, then I will not be supporting you and I will be encouraging others not to support you either. I'm selfish that way. I can and do shop based on what I think is important.

Congratulations. I'm also pretty sure you live in an urban area with loads of alternatives... and won't be that inconvenienced. But the universe acknowledges your noble sacrifice.

epilonious said...

It's great Target treats their GLBT employees nicely, but to give money to someone who could do harm to our community, to me, is indefensible.

I frankly feel that a right-wing politician from Minnesota can't actually do that much harm to the gay community. That's the hyperbolic reaction I keep talking about: It's not like Target is vote-rigging to get Tom Emmer elected. It's not like they are canning gay benefits to bankroll the guy. They gave money to a Political Action Group that had a lot of things to say about making MN (Target's home state) better for businesses... and said political action group supports Emmer, presumably because he also wants to make things better for businesses, unfortunately he's also a social troglodyte.

For example: I don't buy computer parts from AMD because they have a low rating from HRC for GLBT issues. I changed cell phone companies because Alltel had a low rating.

And yet Intel and TMobile/Sprint/AT&T/Verizon buy tons of electronics full of bits sourced from China. If you really cared about Human rights you'd stop buying new technology all together...

One of the biggest ways our community can influence companies, is with our buying power. We don't have the numbers to win elections on our own, but we can hurt the bottom line of a company.

And as I've pointed out before: when you do that to an already pro-gay company... I feel like it has a greater chance of hurting the scads of gay employees working for said company.

With the new ruling that companies can dump money into elections, our buying power will become more important. We can steer companies to do right by us through boycotts or by our patronage.

Unless of course the money you give them doesn't go where you think it goes... as in the exxon/mobil example

And we need to tell companies when they have lost our support.

The consumerist exists. You can probably do just as well by writing them a letter.

epilonious said...

Back in the 70's when A Bryant was pushing Florida Orange Juice and her right wing anti-gay agenda, I gave up oranges & orange juice from Florida. I would only buy either if it carried a CA label; which was hard to find in NC. I gave up OJ, which I really like, for over 5 years. Now, I suspect Target will be held to a similar standard. I'm prepared to give up Target for many years if I have to.

Not the same thing. Anita Bryant was Florida Orange Juice's spokesperson... and took on a campaign pretty much solely dedicated to being mean to gay folks.

Target happened to give some money to a pro-business group that happens to support a pro-business candidate who unfortunately doesn't believe in gay marriage/union specific laws.

Target didn't hire the guy to dance and smile in their commercials.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Wow! You’ve all been busy while I was away! Time zones are an amazing thing.

I’ll add a few comments, too. First, Roger makes a great point about how being gay-friendly (or socially responsible generally) can actually benefit a company’s bottom line. That’s the whole reason that GLBT indices exist—to give companies proof that being gay-friendly is good (or at least not bad) for business.

Both Roger and Epilonious touch on something that I didn’t in the original post: Practicality. In some places the choice is Target or Wal-Mart (because the main street shops are all vacant). In such a case, boycotting Target would mean supporting a truly bad company (and for places with only Wal-Mart, this is purely a philosophical discussion, anyway).

Roger, Honey and Moose all mentioned previous boycotts or businesses they don’t patronise. I don’t patronise Mobil, either, because of Exxon cancelling the domestic partner benefits that Mobil employees had. I don’t patronise Gloria Jeans because outside of North America and Puerto Rico it’s owned by fundamentalists associated with an Australian megachurch that promotes an “ex-lesbian” ministry scam (and Gloria Jeans collected money for that ministry one day each year).

Epilonious suggests that those of us who make such purchasing decisions are on a fool’s errand because other companies have skeletons in their closets and some of the money still goes to the bad guys. That’s true—but entirely irrelevant to what I’m talking about. I’m saying simply that people have the right to make purchasing decisions based on their personal values (which is true for both the left and the right). Any one of us may think those decisions are stupid, lame, self-defeating, etc., but that doesn’t take away the fundamental right of people to make those decisions—and that’s my real point in all this.

Which brings me back to THIS case. What happens in the Minnesota governor’s race has—like all statewide campaigns—potential national consequences. With all due respect to Epilonious, all politics is now national, especially on GLBT issues and race where something that happens in one state is magnified into a national issue, primarily by the various news media, especially on the right.

I’d like to think that maybe Target might re-consider its support for the group backing the Republican candidate, that they might conclude that pissing-off customers nationwide might not be the best way to advance their business needs or their bottom line. Perhaps they didn’t realise how dimly some folk would view their support for a stridently anti-gay Republican. I’d like to think that once they knew better, they’d do better. I’d like to think that—but I don’t. I frankly don’t think they’ll pay much attention unless a nationwide boycott does get started, in which case they might change their ways.

But whether Target reforms its ways or not, whether some other company is worse or not, I nevertheless return to my central thesis: Every one of us has the absolute right to make purchasing decisions based on our values, and it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks about that decision.

Great discussion, everyone!

[LaLa] Lauren said...

I had a gay sales person at Target help me out in the furniture department once. His name was Pepsi.

Pepsi.


:p

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Good thing they didn't hire someone named "Coke" or it would've been WAR!

Roger Owen Green said...

One last point: boycotts, by their very nature, are supposed to involve sacrifice. I shop at Wal-Mart, I (presumably) save money; but I don't because my opposition is greater than my need for money. when I boycotted OJ, I was sad; I LIKED OJ, but AB was just too toxic.
Maybe these are self-defeating actions, tho in the case of OJ, it more or less worked, because as Mr. AmeriNZ said, it's the consumer's right. The fact that our boycott of Exxon/Mobil has not yet brought the company to its knees is no reason to stop the boycott.
Oh, my favorite boycott: Montgomery, Alabama buses, 1956. Took a year, but it worked, with no small help from the courts.

Bjorn said...

My quandary is this: a couple high school friends work for Target, one is gay and one isn't. No big deal. I know people who work for Wal-mart too.

Living where i do and shopping for the things Target sells i am stuck between Wal-mart and Target. I worked for Wal-mart and know how horrible they are to their employees, especially women. Wal-Mart's track record is much worse and much more offensive to me.

The big issue is do I support my own home state which has a pretty progressive (but restrained) stance by shopping at Target or arkansas which is still trying to outlaw homosexuality?

Where is the less evil? How can one person who has little to no choices actually be expected to use their money. Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, Macy's, Dillard's, Target and Wal-Mart are the choices. none are pure evil or pure good. where does a person start? ALL BUSINESSES GIVE MONEY TO BOTH PARTIES. So what to do?

Arthur, there are no choices here. Really.

Roger Owen Green said...

From my MoveOn e-mail:

Target just gave a huge contribution to a anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-progressive candidate for governor in Minnesota. Will you send a message to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel that you won't shop at Target unless they stop trying to buy elections? Click here:

Sign the petition

Dear MoveOn member,

Get this: Target, the retail giant, just became one of the very first companies to take advantage of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate cash in elections.1

Target has spent over $150,000 in the Minnesota Governor's race backing state Rep. Tom Emmer, a far-right Republican who supports Arizona's draconian immigration law, wants to abolish the minimum wage and even gave money to a fringe group that condoned the execution of gay people. 2

Target must think customers won't care. They're wrong: We do care, and we need to let them know that we want Target—and all corporations—out of our elections.

Will you send a message to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel telling him that you're not going to shop at Target unless they stop trying to buy elections?