Boycott everything!

Chick-Fil-A had a good day yesterday, as supporters of president Dan Cathy’s* stance in support of “traditional” marriage lined up to buy chicken sandwiches.   Radio host and one-time Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee had urged his audience to stand up for Cathy and the restaurant chain–and they did.  At some sites, the lunch crowd also got to see protesters advocating a boycott of the chain.

Governor Huckabee says this is what America is all about, and has also said he’s “okay” with the planned same sex kiss protest at Chick-Fil-A restaurants tomorrow:

Probably I won’t be there for that…But so what? That’s America. As long as they’re orderly, as long as they don’t disrupt the flow of customers and traffic — if they believe that will help their cause, to put people of the same sex kissing each other in a public place in front of families, if they believe that will encourage people to be more sympathetic, then, you know, more power to them.

Mike Huckabee, before, and before that

But the one day blip in chicken sandwich sales isn’t likely to continue.  Governor Huckabee, also known for his own successful dieting–having dropped more than 100 pounds earlier in his career–is unlikely to urge his supporters to organize their diets around even the grilled chicken sandwich.

The boycott will continue, but how many boycotters were buying from Chick-Fil-A anyway?  The attendant publicity is likely to be more consequential than any economic effect.

And supporters of same sex marriage and gay rights have no monopoly on the use of boycotts to try to achieve their aims.  In fact, conservative and Christian groups have been particularly prolific in trying to steer their dollars away from companies that promote sin.

USA Christian Ministries has announced boycotts of Cheerios–and all General Mills products–because of the company’s support of gay rights.  A similar sin has landed Starbucks on its don’t buy list.

The American Family Association has launched scores of boycotts against companies large and small.  They urge their acolytes to support Chick-Fil-A, and steer clear of Office Depot, JC Penney, and Sears when back-to-school shopping.  And for the adults, they promote a boycott of Home Depot.

The list of companies that support gay and lesbian rights is very long, and growing.  To follow the comprehensive boycott list, one would have to opt out of much of American life.  Indeed, many of these companies are already on liberal groups’ boycott lists!

Life Decisions International has tried to orchestrate boycotts of companies that support Planned Parenthood, and it’s a long list:

Pernod Ricard (alcoholic beverages, including Absolute, Ballantine’s, Beefeater, Bancott Estate, Campo Viejo, Chivas Regal, G.H. Mumm, The Glenlivet, Graffigna, Havana Club, Jacob’s Creek, Jameson, Kahlúa, Malibu, Maretll, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Ricard, Royal Salute), TD Bank Group (financial services), Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (lodging, including Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Dream Hotels, Hawthorne, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inns & Suites, Night, Planet Hollywood, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, TRYP Hotels, and Wingate), NACCO Industries (appliance manufacturing, including eclectrics, Hamilton Beach, Proctor Silex, Traditions, TrueAir, plus Kitchen Collection and Le Gourmet Chef stores), Whole Foods Market, JP Morgan Chase (including Chase Bank, & Bank One), Bank of America, Lost Arrow (Patagonia), Danone (Dannon products), Wells Fargo, Chevron (including Caltex, Texaco, Xpress Lube), eBay (including PayPal), Arthur Murray (dance studios), Bikram’s Yoga, Midas (auto care), Nike, Marriott Hotels & Resorts (lodging, including Courtyard, Fairfield, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton), Johnson & Johnson, Staples (office/school supplies), and Darden Restaurants (eateries, including Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Seasons 52). And this is just a partial list!

Conservative blogger Pat Dollard has been organizing boycotts of companies that responded to liberal boycott threats and pulled their advertising from Rush Limbaugh’s show.  (That sounds long and confusing, but I think the sentence is correct.)

The Boycott Owl is committed to monitoring all boycott campaigns, and you’ll see that virtually any grievance: supporting (or opposing) gay marriage, busting unions, or losing luggage can be cause for a boycott campaign.

Of course, the very large number of campaigns makes it harder for any one to get attention or much traction.

I guess the free market is defined by what people won’t buy!

 

*Dan Cathy’s name was initially misspelled.  Corrected August 3.

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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5 Responses to Boycott everything!

  1. deanar says:

    I have been surprised by this. Last semester there was a similar outrage on campus. Chick-Fil-A plans to set up shop on campus, and some students were outraged by the restaurant’s “we are a Christian restaurant that supports traditional family bent.” I don’t know what your FB page looks like, but yesterday my Christian “friends” were “crying for joy” at the outpouring of support for traditional family values and fellow progressives have some very disparaging words for Christians. I do not think that most folks believe that boycotts (or one day shows of support) are terribly effective. But, they still matter. Personal politics and expressing them in small ways everyday serves a purpose beyond changing a corporation or an institution. These expressions remind us who we are and connect us to others that share our politics and passion.

    • We could wind up with very spotty chains, with Chick-Fil-A flourishing in more conservative parts of the United States (one friend posted that she didn’t know where to find a Chick Fil-A that she could protest at) and Starbucks taking over every city block–or has that happened already?

  2. ayeo says:

    A great series of posts on boycotts and Chick-Fil-A. I was going to write about this on my blog, but I’ve posted links to yours instead since your coverage is more succinct (and also b/c I’m being lazy).

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