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Dec/08

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Secular Intolerance

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Gay activists are furiously denouncing the Rick Warren inaugural invitation as an imprimatur for intolerance.  At the same time, many in their ranks are trying to destroy the livelihoods not just of indviduals who donated piddling sums to California’s Prop. 8 campaign but of their co-workers as well.   This is not necessarily a winning PR strategy.

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90 comments

  • Polichinello · December 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    You’re right, Grant. All judges are pure as the driven snow, and they act as utterly unemotional calculators, always divining the “right” thing to do. I mean, really, why should we even bother with elections and legislators? Let’s just let the exalted few make all our decisions for us.

    From a previous post:
    One would hope that if this was a largely Jewish clientele and the manager was a supporter of the neo-Nazis or if it was a largely African-American clientele and the manager was a supporter of the Klan, that you wouldn’t call those people “thugs.” But I’m sure you have some dubious and obviously ad-hoc cover to explain away those comparisons.

    Yes, they’re obviously idiotic. One need only reproduce this statement to refute it.

    For someone who hates Coulter and Levin, you sure do seem eager to go them a few better, Grant.

  • mtraven · December 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Mark :

    Mark

    All other things being equal, it’s better for a kid to have a mom and a dad than to not.

    Well, it’s somewhat odd for me to be more pro-gay-marriage than the gay guy, but I don’t buy that. I know plenty of same-sex parents (almost all lesbian, even in San Francisco gay male parent couples are rare) and I don’t see their children suffering for it. I doubt there is any evidence to show that same sex parenting is inferior, and even if there was it would be very hard to separate out inherent factors from those caused by social bias, which is decreasing.

  • vic · December 29, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    mnuez and others

    1.never expended much intellect before this on the gay marriage issue, however I fond many of your arguments intrrsting and so far compelling. Kind of like a continuum with a massively skewed distribution. MM sex is ubiquitous across cultures, with the majority being I am guessing, of an opportunistic and inconstant nature. The closest I have seen of a gay culture / lifestyle in a non postinsustrial society is in the Hijras of India. Most likely gay prostitutes who live as a community but dress as women.

    Btw don’t waste too much time a grant canyon – I have engaged him before he if intellectually incurious and unable to see beyond the canons of PCdom .

    Great discussion

  • Kevembuangga · December 29, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Polichinello :
    Wow, Diet Coke on the keyboard.

    Indeed!
    I had more luck, I had just finished the breakfeast tea :-)

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 5:56 am

    @Polichinello
    “All judges are pure as the driven snow, and they act as utterly unemotional calculators, always divining the ‘right’ thing to do.”

    Of course, I never said anything remotely similar to this. But since you’ve never actually educated yourself as to how judges do decide matters, you are left with silly stereotypes which have been pushed by mindless ideologues. Letting them tell you what to think is, I guess, easier for you than to educate yourself and think for yourself. Because a thoughtful discussion of various theories of judicial interpretation and their strengths and weaknesses could be fruitful, but you couldn’t hold up your end of the conversation, because your knowledge of the subject apparently begins and ends with the mindless repetition of catch phrases you gleaned from political hacks. Too bad.

    “Yes, they’re obviously idiotic. One need only reproduce this statement to refute it.”

    Okay, so you’ve proven that you can repeat content-free quips you heard other people make. But the fact that you have had the chance, twice, to address the point I actually made, but have not done so, must lead one to the conclusion that you can not only not refute the point, but you don’t even have an argument that would not be a complete embarrassment to you.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 6:34 am

    …but you don’t even have an argument that would not be a complete embarrassment to you.

    I’d say actually it’s you who should be embarrassed, but since you have no qualms comparing genocidal actors like the Nazis and the Klan to some poor schmoe of a floor manager who contributed to a legal, democratic campaign, it’s obvious, at long last, you have no shame.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 7:37 am

    “I’d say actually it’s you who should be embarrassed, but since you have no qualms comparing genocidal actors like the Nazis and the Klan to some poor schmoe of a floor manager who contributed to a legal, democratic campaign, it’s obvious, at long last, you have no shame.”

    LOL. You’ve now had three opportunities to the address the point, and all you can muster is a lame rip-off of Joseph Welch??? Yup, like I suspected, an embarrassment…

    And, for the record, in the analogy I used, I specifically made a comparison to a supporter of neo-Nazis and a supporter of the Klan, in light of the fact that this manager was a supporter of the anti-gay bigots in this case. So you are wrong to say that I am comparing this “poor schmoe of a floor manager” to any “genocidal actor.”

    Further, you still didn’t answer the question: would someone be a “thug” if he boycotted a business because it persisted in hiring a supporter of neo-Nazis or a supporter of the Klan?? If not, why not? Given your cowardly evasion of this question, you give the impression that the answer you believe but that you do not want to admit is that you don’t think that bigotry against homosexual people is bad.

  • Author comment by Walter Olson · December 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

    This thread too has spiraled down into insults and triggers an invocation of Godwin’s Law. Unless more can be said in a calm tone that hasn’t been said so far, prepare to see comments deleted.

  • Ivan Karamazov · December 30, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Grant Canyon :

    Grant Canyon

    Given your cowardly evasion of this question, you give the impression that the answer you believe but that you do not want to admit is that you don’t think that bigotry against homosexual people is bad.

    There’s your fatal flaw neatly wrapped up in one sentence. Disagreement with anything on the Gay agenda equals “bigotry against homosexual people”.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 8:36 am

    @Ivan Karamazov,
    “There’s your fatal flaw neatly wrapped up in one sentence. Disagreement with anything on the Gay agenda equals ‘bigotry against homosexual people’.”

    Putting aside the number of unsupported assumptions in your statement, the issue is why Polichinello thinks boycotters are “thugs” if they believe the business employs supporters of bigotry. Whether one agrees that such bigotry actually exists or not is mostly beside the point. Those doing the boycotting perceive it is bigotry and they have a facially valid claim that Prop. 8 was an exercise in bigotry. Even if they were wrong, that would make them wrong, not “thugs.”

  • Ivan Karamazov · December 30, 2008 at 9:00 am

    @Grant Canyon
    Perhaps Polichinello just thinks that collateral punishment of innocent workers is a bit thuggish. I can see a “facially valid claim” for that view, can you?

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 9:33 am

    @Ivan Karamazov
    “Perhaps Polichinello just thinks that collateral punishment of innocent workers is a bit thuggish. I can see a ‘facially valid claim’ for that view, can you?”

    Not really, no. I believe that it is unfortunate, but innocent workers suffer many things for many reasons. (Is someone who relocates a manufacturing plant to China to save on labor cost a “thug” because the innocent American workers are hurt?)

    This is why I believe the analogies are apt. If there is thuggery in this case, when rights for gay people are at issue, would it not have to be equally thuggish to boycott a business who hires racists or anti-Semites and whose clientele is a racial or religious minority?? Perhaps you believe it is thuggish in every case; I believe that such boycotts are merely fights for individual liberty. If those workers are hurt, it is unfortunate and they should choose their employment better, but fighting for civil rights is not thuggery .

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Further, you still didn’t answer the question: would someone be a “thug” if he boycotted a business because it persisted in hiring a supporter of neo-Nazis or a supporter of the Klan??

    Having noted the utter stupidity of comparing neo-nazis and the Klan to Prop 8, I will go on and say, yes, this would be thuggish, too. Provided the people in question did not act on their bigotry in the workplace, it would be thuggish to persecute their employers and their fellow employees.

    I know it sounds so very odd to you and yours, Grant, but people should be free to hold all sorts of views, even repugnant views, without having to necessarily lose their jobs, or see their fellow employees being dragooned into the mob. After all, what do you want to do with these folks, throw them on welfare?

    It’s important to note, too, that we’re not just talking about a “boycott” here at El Coyote, where people elect not to go eat at some place, but full picketing in front of the business, with all the intimidation that goes with it.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

    If those workers are hurt, it is unfortunate and they should choose their employment better, but fighting for civil rights is not thuggery.

    Yeah, and you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, etc.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 10:08 am

    “Having noted the utter stupidity of comparing neo-nazis and the Klan to Prop 8, I will go on and say, yes, this would be thuggish, too.”

    Oh, that’s right, bigotry against people you don’t like is okay.

    “Provided the people in question did not act on their bigotry in the workplace, it would be thuggish to persecute their employers and their fellow employees.”

    How, exactly, are they being “persecuted”??? There is a boycott and, as you suggest, picketing. That’s not persecution, that’s free speech. Let’s see, equal protection, free speech… what other rights are you willing to toss aside to protect the bigots?

    “I know it sounds so very odd to you and yours, Grant, but people should be free to hold all sorts of views, even repugnant views, without having to necessarily lose their jobs, or see their fellow employees being dragooned into the mob.”

    I have no problem with people holding whatever views they like. But they must understand that when they take action on those views (as this woman did here), they have to be prepared to take responsibility for those actions. This woman chose sides in the Prop. 8 campaign. This business has chosen sides; its employee over its customers. Stupid business call, but the free market will see that the business takes responsibility for its decisions.

    If this woman was so concerned about her fellow employees, she probably would have taken them into consideration before she acted to offend the business’s client base. (And, if was so concerned about the welfare of her fellow employees, she can quit or apologize and donate some money to the cause her customers’ favor.)

    “It’s important to note, too, that we’re not just talking about a ‘boycott’ here at El Coyote, where people elect not to go eat at some place, but full picketing in front of the business, with all the intimidation that goes with it.”

    So? If they are picketing legally, they are well within their rights. (You know, like they’re allowed to do in front of abortion clinics. Or would you strip those people of their rights, as well?) If they step beyond what is legal, the law should step in. If not, they are doing nothing illegal.

    *****

    “Yeah, and you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, etc.”

    Ironic, coming from someone willing to sacrifice others’ civil liberties.

  • Mark · December 30, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Polichinello: “I grant that in less than perfect conditions, adoption by a gay couple would be preferable to the alternatives. The problem is, if you say gays can marry, by law you can’t treat the two situations differently.”

    Yes, you can. I know adoption law. It’s my job. And believe me when I say that in private adoptions, the birthmother can choose whomever she wants to raise her kid. In adoptions out of the foster care system, there is nothing on the books that says that the state social worker can’t rank one married couple above another because the former can provide a child with role models of both sexes.

    MtRaven:

    “Well, it’s somewhat odd for me to be more pro-gay-marriage than the gay guy, but I don’t buy that. I know plenty of same-sex parents (almost all lesbian, even in San Francisco gay male parent couples are rare) and I don’t see their children suffering for it.”

    I don’t think children suffer from being raised by a same-sex couple, but I do think that it’s good in and of itself to provide children with role models of both sexes. I know a lot of gay people who feel the same way (not that that proves anything) which is one reason many lesbians make efforts to include their childrens’ birthfathers in their childrens’ lives.

  • Author comment by Caledonian · December 30, 2008 at 11:12 am

    It might help if we made explicit what we mean by ‘role model’, which in today’s society is used to describe sports and movie stars far more often than the original meaning: acting as a model for a social niche/role, which requires actually being in that role as a father, mother, responsible adult, etc.

  • Author comment by Caledonian · December 30, 2008 at 11:21 am

    How then, do you make sense of primitive societies (which is most of how humans have lived, throughout most of history) in which there are no real “contracts” to speak of? Where marriage had less to do with romantic inclinations and more to do with stipulating parentage?

    Like the ones in which a woman can divorce her ‘husband’ by putting his things outside the door, or taking down the leaves that form the roof of their bent-bough shanty?

    If we’re going to be talking ‘tradition’, how far back are you willing to go? A hundred years? Five hundred? Five thousand? Because concepts of marriage and associated relationship customs have varied wildly across those periods, and they have little to do with the modern concept.

  • Bill Tingley · December 30, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Heather MacDonald writes: Gay activists have refused to lift their ban unless the manager donates $100 to repeal Prop. 8 or quits. The premise and goal of this and other Prop. 8 boycotts strike me as quite a leap from traditional civil rights boycotts and approach an effort to control private thought and belief through group punishment.

    Transplanted Lawyer writes in response: She chose to take that risk. Her clients have the right to grant or withhold their business for any reason that they see fit, which is their right because it’s their money.

    The risk that the restaurant manager did not choose was extortion. It is one thing to boycott or picket a business because Owner X did Bad Thing Y. It is an entirely different thing to interfere with X‘s business until he surrenders a right or cash to the boycotters. That’s extortion.

    That’s probably why Ms. MacDonald senses that the boycott of the El Coyote restaurant doesn’t square with the civil rights boycotts of the Sixties. The boycotters in this case are nothing but thugs determined to ruin her livelihood until she gives up her right to vote her conscience plus cough up a C-note to a cause she doesn’t support.

  • A-Bax · December 30, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Caledonian :

    Caledonian
    If we’re going to be talking ‘tradition’, how far back are you willing to go? A hundred years? Five hundred? Five thousand? Because concepts of marriage and associated relationship customs have varied wildly across those periods, and they have little to do with the modern concept.

    I’m mainly concerned with the feature of marriage which has (pretty much always and everywhere) understood it to between one woman, and one man.

    I’m responding to this rather blasé’ assertion of yours:

    Caledonian
    Marriage is a contractual relationship concerning the merging of households, and one that is relatively easy to dissolve at that. Limiting these contracts to specific gender combinations, non-family members, and no more than two people is arbitrary and pointless.

    You seem to be implying that any group of people, however arbitrarily defined, can “marry” one another. (So there could be a “marriage” between all minor-league shortstops, that one waitress at Friday’s, her sister, and 10 ivy-league feminist professors.)

    Even mtraven thought it *obvious* that the courts would limit the cardinality of married partners to 2. However, you have construed such a limitation as “arbitrary and pointless”.

    My point to you, Caldonian, is that you have watered down the meaning of “marriage” so much (much, much further than anything mtraven or other gay-marriage proponents advocate), so as to render it close to meaningless.

    And so…..in this eviscerating of the concept of marriage you propose, you lose pretty much all continuity with what has historically (even, say 5 years ago) was understood as marriage.

    That’s all.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Oh, that’s right, bigotry against people you don’t like is okay.

    Again, two groups you reference are genocidal by nature, the Prop 8 issue is a debate over an innovation. They’re not in the same ballpark, and to say they are is a delusion of grandeur, to put it mildly.

    How, exactly, are they being “persecuted”??? There is a boycott and, as you suggest, picketing. That’s not persecution, that’s free speech.

    All you’re saying is that it’s legal, and you’re right it’s legal. That doesn’t address its immoral, persecutory nature.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Yes, you can. I know adoption law. It’s my job. And believe me when I say that in private adoptions, the birthmother can choose whomever she wants to raise her kid. In adoptions out of the foster care system, there is nothing on the books that says that the state social worker can’t rank one married couple above another because the former can provide a child with role models of both sexes.

    That may currently be the case, Mark, and I can’t gainsay you. I don’t think it would stand up for long though in a lot of courts. That is the problem with conferring marital status on a new group. We can’t predict where the courts and the bureaucracies will go with this. Too, there is a concern that this will open up the path to polygamous marriages, and all that entails. Once you say consenting adults should make their arrangements as you please, it’s pretty hard to stop with an innovation but deny an older and still extant practice–especially in our society whose intellectuals tend to value the exotic over the domestic.

    I think these are pretty legitimate concerns, and I say this as someone who recognizes the validity of gay concerns when it comes to inheritance, benefits and visitation, which I think civil unions would cover quite well.

  • Gotchaye · December 30, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Sure, it’s extortion. I’ve been doing something similar to Whole Foods, myself. Their prices are too high, you see, and so I’ve decided not to give them any more money until they lower them to something more reasonable. Would it be so different if I were also picketing them with “Your Prices are too High!” signs? Am I being ‘thuggish’?

    All boycotts are extortion as you define it. They’re not purely punitive – there’s always a concession that the business could make to get the boycott lifted. That’s the point of boycotts. Why is it that you think the 60’s boycotts were so different? It seems to me that the most thuggish one could get here would be to impose a boycott with no intention of ever lifting it – that’s just retributive vigilante justice.

    Further, don’t we all have an obvious (moral and legal) right to refrain from giving money to a business when doing so indirectly puts money into the hands of people actively working against our interests or to further an agenda that we strongly object to? We try not to buy diamonds which originally came from certain parts of Africa because doing so indirectly puts money into the hands of murderous thugs. The employee in question didn’t merely vote for Prop 8; she gave money to it, and she was able to do that because of the salary the restaurant pays her. We’re not obligated to ignore the uses to which people put the money we’d give them when we decide who to purchase goods and services from. Else I have a hard time understanding why it’s permissible to consider that buying African diamonds from diamond brokers who buy their diamonds from African thugs who use that money to buy guns ends up resulting in the death of innocent people. That’s obviously a great deal worse, but note that none of the morally atrocious stuff is even illegal, since these thugs also run the countries they’re in.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    @Polichinello
    “Again, two groups you reference are genocidal by nature, the Prop 8 issue is a debate over an innovation. They’re not in the same ballpark…”

    Baloney. The neo-Nazis, the Klan and the prop. 8 supporters have a great deal in common. They may justify the bigotry in various ways, and have various levels of popularity, but they all seek to limit or eliminate the civil rights of minority groups they disfavor. By focusing at the distinctions you ignore the similarities, which is foolish because the distinction you posit is irrelevant for the purpose of the analogy.

    That refusal to see these similarities is convenient, as it permits you to ignore the complications of your position, but those complications are there, nonetheless.

    But let’s play along… so, let’s imagine a group that isn’t genocidal, but merely wants to kick the snot out of, say, Hungarians. It doesn’t want to kill them, but merely wants to batter them a little bit. If an employer hired a manager who supported and funded such a group, and the restaurant catered to Hungarians, would that justify a boycott by those same Hungarians? Would the Hungarians be “thugs”?

    How about, instead of wanting to assault them, this group wanted to take away the right to the free exercise of religion of, say, Mormons. Would it be appropriate, if the restaurant was in Salt Lake City and catered to Mormons, for the Mormons to boycott and picket if the restaurant continued to hire someone who wanted to make it illegal to be a Morman??

    Exactly where is the line, in your view. At what point does standing up for civil rights of your fellow Americans by legal means turn you into a “thug”?

    “That doesn’t address its immoral, persecutory nature.”

    But what is immoral or persecutory (interesting word choice, seeing as how it was the boycott supporters who had their civil rights voted away…) about a boycott or picketing? Nothing. Again, this business has no moral or legal right to have these customers frequent this restaurant, and these people who were affected by the acts of this manager have every legal and moral right (and some would say obligation) to oppose the theft of their civil liberties by those who are doing the theft.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Sure, it’s extortion. I’ve been doing something similar to Whole Foods, myself. Their prices are too high, you see, and so I’ve decided not to give them any more money until they lower them to something more reasonable.

    Whole Foods enters the market knowing they lose customers if they charge too much for their food. That’s a condition of entry, and it’s entirely predictable and in their control. The idea that a business and its employees are going to be made to suffer for the legal and private actions of any given employee over an issue no one even seriously entertained until a couple of decades ago is vindictive, petty and persecutory.

    That you and yours refuse to make this sort of distinctions betrays a chilling, bigoted and totalitarian mindset.

  • Gotchaye · December 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    So, to be clear, you -are- saying that it was thuggish of people to boycott blood diamonds (prior to their import being made illegal, I suppose), since De Beers was hardly expecting to be held accountable for the actions of its suppliers and since no one gave a crap about internal strife in third world countries until pretty recently? And the backlash against Nike for using child labor in other countries was also thuggish, right? It’s not like they thought that anyone would care, after all.

  • Gotchaye · December 30, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I also think it’s rather obvious that the Whole Foods example was tongue in cheek. It was merely to demonstrate to Bill Tingley that his distinction between good and bad boycotts based on a definition of extortion didn’t stand up to scrutiny. I do agree that the character of a boycott like mine of Whole Foods is rather different than that of a Prop 8 supporting business or that of a seller of blood diamonds, but I don’t really see how the latter types are different except as to the degree of the offense.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    “That you and yours refuse to make this sort of distinctions betrays a chilling, bigoted and totalitarian mindset.”

    As opposed to the warm, tolerant and respectful-of-civil-liberties mindset of the Prop. 8 supporters??

  • ◄Dave► · December 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    This is not my issue, and I already offered the suggestion that we simply get government out of the business of licensing the religious practice of marriage, when we kicked this subject around a couple of weeks ago. I do find it interesting how many are defending the disruptive protests in front of a business establishment, which has done nothing more than have the temerity to employ a person who privately disagrees with the sexual preferences of many of its customers.

    I am curious, would any of you also defend similar protesters from the opposite camp, who could easily organize thousands of boycotts all across the nation, against individual restaurants for employing a gay waiter? Is this really an effective way to win acceptance for a really radical idea, when the very outcome of Prop 8 indicates that the public just isn’t buying it? It seems to me that the risk of a backlash is significant, if some cooler heads don’t prevail in the gay community. ◄Dave►

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    @Dave,
    “I am curious, would any of you also defend similar protesters from the opposite camp, who could easily organize thousands of boycotts all across the nation, against individual restaurants for employing a gay waiter?”

    There have been many boycotts by religious groups across the country against companies for supporting equal rights for employees who are homosexuals. (See, e.g., the long boycott against Disney.) So, I would defend their right to protest, picket, etc., even if I disagree with why they are doing it. If they aren’t breaking the law, I support their right to speak. Absolutely.

  • Polichinello · December 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    So, to be clear, you -are- saying that it was thuggish of people to boycott blood diamonds (prior to their import being made illegal, I suppose), since De Beers was hardly expecting to be held accountable for the actions of its suppliers and since no one gave a crap about internal strife in third world countries until pretty recently? And the backlash against Nike for using child labor in other countries was also thuggish, right? It’s not like they thought that anyone would care, after all.

    In the Nike and the DeBeers case you’re talking about the companies taking objectionable actions themselves as a matter of company policy. The same is even true of the Disney boycott (which is stupid and to some extent thuggish). In the El Coyote case, you have an employee doing something utterly unrelated to the business on their own time with their own dime. The company has no control over that, nor do the employees.

    If this kind of thing catches on, companies will have to insist that their employees abstain from any and all political activity that might turn out to be controversial. Is this really where you want to go?

  • Bill Tingley · December 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Gotchaye:

    I also think it’s rather obvious that the Whole Foods example was tongue in cheek. It was merely to demonstrate to Bill Tingley that his distinction between good and bad boycotts based on a definition of extortion didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    What you are missing is a fundamental distinction:

    [1] Boycotter A declares that he will not patronize Owner X‘s business because X has done Bad Thing Y;

    and

    [2] Boycotter B declares that he will not patronize Owner X‘s business until X either abandons his livelihood or reliquishes his right to legally contribute to a political cause and also surrenders a certain amount of cash to B’s political cause.

    The former is a legal boycott and the latter extortion. It’s extortion because B threatened X‘s livelihood with both the intent to obtain money from X and also the intent that X act against his will.

    In your responses about extortion vis-a-vis boycotts, you are comparing apples to orange by stretching out the definition of extortion into meaningless. The key to extortion is B threatening injury to X‘s person, property, or livelihood to get this and that from X. Your examples of Wholesale Foods and blood diamonds aren’t comparable because you are not threatening to injure anyone if your demands aren’t met.

    The boycotters of El Coyote restaurant are making such a threat to the manager — i.e., either quit your job or give us money plus give up your constitutional right to support Prop 8. In other words, we won’t ruin you if you give us what we want. That’s extortion. That’s why the boycotters are thugs.

  • Grant Canyon · December 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    @Bill Tingley

    The point which you are missing by mentioning extortion, is that there is no threat of violence or force here. The boycotters are threatening not to go to the restaurant and to picket. They are not preventing El Coyote from serving its customers or from operating its business. They are simply not choosing to go to the restaurant and are using speech and assembly to persuade people to choose not to go to the restaurant.

    “Make a donation or I’ll break your leg” is extortion.
    “Make a donation or I’ll try to convince people not to go to your store” is not.

  • Mark · December 31, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Polichinello:

    “That may currently be the case, Mark, and I can’t gainsay you. I don’t think it would stand up for long though in a lot of courts.”

    Not to be rude, but you’re wrong. There is no right to adopt a child, and no court has ever recognized such a right. Marriage does not confer such a right to straights, so why would it confer such a right to gays?

    “That is the problem with conferring marital status on a new group. We can’t predict where the courts and the bureaucracies will go with this. Too, there is a concern that this will open up the path to polygamous marriages, and all that entails. Once you say consenting adults should make their arrangements as you please, it’s pretty hard to stop with an innovation but deny an older and still extant practice–especially in our society whose intellectuals tend to value the exotic over the domestic.”

    I agree this is a concern. I don’t want to see polygamy legalized. But the reason that I don’t want to see polygamy legalized is because I think it presents a direct threat to the social order by creating a surplus of unmarried and frustrated males. I don’t see that legalizing gay marriage presents a direct threat to the social order in any way. Nor do I think that gay marriage will lead to legalization of polygamy, because, frankly, I don’t think there is any will to legalize polygamy in this country. There is no group of born polygamists incapable of monogamy and advocating for the institution of polygamous unions.

  • Bill Tingley · December 31, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Grant Canyon,

    The threat was “Make a donation or give up your job.” That is extortion. If you don’t understand how demanding money in exchange for not harming your livelihood is a threat, I cannot help you.

  • Grant Canyon · December 31, 2008 at 10:30 am

    @Bill Tingley,

    No, the statement was “We’ll stop boycotting if you make a donation or until this person does not work here anymore.” The choice is up to the business how they wish to treat their customers.

    The protestors have a complete legal and moral right to picket and boycott all they want. That they weren’t willing to give up their boycott unless this person was out seeking other employment or a small donation was made may be viewed as a threat, but it is not extortion.

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    [...] Secular Intolerance and Rick Warren [...]

  • Kevembuangga · January 1, 2009 at 5:26 am

    The protestors have a complete legal and moral right to picket and boycott all they want.

    No, I wouldn’t put picket and boycott in the same category.
    Boycotting is only about one’s own freedom of choice.
    Picketing is an attack at other people freedom of choice.

  • Grant Canyon · January 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Boycotting is only about one’s own freedom of choice.
    Picketing is an attack at other people freedom of choice.

    Well, only if, by “picketing”, you include physically preventing someone from entering the business. But such “blockading”, so to speak, isn’t what I am referring to. Picketing is simply assembly and speech at the location, to attempt to persuade people from not doing business with the business being picketed. It is in that sense that I wrote.

  • Gotchaye · January 1, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Bill – Grant got there long before I did, but I’d add that your ‘Boycotter A’ doesn’t exist. Almost nobody boycotts solely to punish a business. The -point- of boycotting is to cause a change in a business’ policy. In the case of one-time events, boycotters usually desire some sign of repentance, or for the business to ‘make it right’. You seem to be saying that the only allowable form of boycotting is boycotting as vigilante justice, whereas I think that most everyone else understands it as registering disagreement with a business’ policies by ‘voting with your feet’.

    It’s also not at all clear to me which category my boycott of Whole Foods on account of its high prices would fall under. I’d shop at Whole Foods in a second if they significantly cut their prices, so, while it’s not a political thing, it does seem like I’m much closer to your extortion case than to your legitimate boycott case – I certainly don’t think that their high prices are a Bad Thing, and my boycott is contingent on their prices remaining the same (which, given their business model, is probably the same as demanding that they go bankrupt).

    Polichinello – All right, I find a distinction based on whether or not something is ‘company policy’ much more reasonable than what you were offering earlier. Let’s go with that.

    First, I’m not sure that you can dismiss the analogy to Nike so easily. My reading of the Nike Wikipedia page is that it wasn’t hiring child laborers – rather, it was contracting production out to factories in various countries who were hiring child laborers. It was only Nike’s company policy to use suppliers that were themselves doing something objectionable. Granted, it’s clear that child labor was relevant to the Nike-factory relationship in a way that Prop 8 was not to the Coyote-employee relationship, but we do think that a company is responsible for what its employees do in many cases.

    But let me offer another hypothetical. Suppose you’ve got some Christian-oriented organization (a church would be the easy example, but it works for something like a Bible publisher). This organization employs a bunch of people who do perfectly acceptable work, but who donate significant portions of their salaries to atheist causes, or even to organizations that are known to funnel money to Islamic terrorists. Is it reasonable for this organization’s customers to take their business elsewhere so as to avoid funding causes that they deeply oppose? If so, why is this different? If not, do you just totally reject the intuition that people are somewhat responsible for what their money is used for after they hand it off to someone else? To really get down to it, do you think it’s wrong to discriminate between two plumbers when you know that one is going to use his fee to feed his hungry family and the other is going to use it to fund something that you find morally appalling (let’s go with terrorism again)?

    Also, the nice thing about boycotts is that you’re never going to see them for trivial wrongs. They hurt the business, but they don’t benefit the customers across the board. All else being equal, the boycotters would like to spend money at El Coyote. They’re boycotting because the offense has crossed some threshold. There’s not going to be an organized boycott of a major business because it employs people that donate to the Republican Party. Sure, a gay bar which funnels money to Republican politicians may not be all that successful, but it’s not like specialist businesses don’t already try to make sure that their employees don’t loudly hold views that are repugnant to the majority of their customers. Again, you don’t see many atheists working in churches.

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