boycott or not

Is’s Boycott Target Ad a Waste of Time, Money and Tactics?’s Target Boycott ad, while terrible, has a purpose. Too bad the editorial board at the Los Angeles Times completely misses the importance of holding corporations’ feet to the fire on issues more important than one-day sales.

So “controversial” is the spot that MSNBC isn’t going to air it (which, of course, just generates more buzz about the boycott) — but perhaps that’s because MSNBC’s owner GE, much like the News Corp., regularly makes contributions to political groups and would hate to see that practice criticized.

But the LAT thinks the entire idea of a boycott is stupid, because what Target did — hand $150k to a PAC that wants to elect governor an anti-gay candidate in Minnesota — is a “small error of judgment.”

For MoveOn, the fight is at least as much about corporate money as it is about gay rights. The Target contribution is a high-profile result of an overreaching January decision by the Supreme Court that opens the door for more corporate donations to political campaigns. But by pointing out Target’s involvement in Emmer’s campaign and obtaining an apology, MoveOn and Human Rights Campaign had already won; their calls for a boycott and attempt to strong-arm money from the company are deeply counterproductive.

The boycott is a tried-and-true tool of nonviolent resistance, used to powerful effect during the civil rights era. But it is cheapened and ultimately rendered ineffective when it becomes a hair-trigger response by activists irked by minor political transgressions. Target’s contribution to MN Forward was at worst a small error of judgment, and should matter far less than the company’s ongoing and long-term commitment to workplace equal rights and its sponsorship of pro-gay events. Moreover, the attempt to wrangle an in-kind contribution from Target is reminiscent of a tactic that appalled gay rights advocates when it was used against them during the campaign for Proposition 8, California’s 2008 initiative banning same-sex marriage. Proposition 8 supporters sent letters to big contributors for the opposite side, threatening to expose them unless they sent an equal donation to their campaign. It was a distasteful move then, and now.

No, these groups haven’t already won. In fact, if anyone is “winning,” it is Target and Emmer, who have managed to avoid serious repercussions for their belief that same-sex partnerships are less valid than others. If these groups were to force Target to hand $150k to pro-gay candidates, it would be less about the cash windfall than the symbolic notion that these companies — including Best Buy — truly realize they erred, they are sorry, and they won’t do it again. Target has promised none of these things, and corporate apologies are almost as worthless as Dr. Laura’s.

What’s most amusing, however, is that when Doug Manchester, the San Diego hotel owner, offered to donate $125,000 to gay groups as a make good for his $125,000 contribution to support Prop 8, gay groups balked. Now, they want Target to do that very thing, and somehow don’t believe it to be blood money.

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  • firefly124

    I think has muddied what for many of us is the central issue with Target and, to a lesser extent, Best Buy: I don’t want to give them any more of my money if that money is going to go to MN Forward, Emmer, and some of it to that whacked-out rock group/ministry that thinks countries that execute people for being LGBTQ are more “moral” than the US. I’m not sure giving an equal amount to anyone else would make me any more comfortable spending money at Target again. I do see *why* HRC and MoveOn set that as a goal. For a boycott to have any effect, there needs to be something you can tell the boycott-ee would get you to un-boycott them. I just think it’d take more than that to earn my trust back. Meanwhile, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid are getting my business, because I’m not going back to WalMart either.

  • Cam

    That is what was wrong with Move On’s and HRC’s “Give us money”. Even the LA Times times is saying it looked like a Shakedown.

    They should have asked for a completely dissavoal of Emmer’s positions on Homosexuality to be released publicly by Target and a promise to not donate to anybody opposed to gay rights. Then if Target said no, continue the boycott. As it is, they just look like groups are using any excuse to wring money out.

    This was a horrible move by Target, money ended up with a politician who is incredibly anti-gay, yet now they have cheapened any movites for Boycotting with their foolishness.

  • mm

    I think this is much more effective:

  • Brian Miller

    I suspect that the media also understands that a corporate-funded PAC like MoveOn — which was originally incorporated to defend DOMA-signing Bill Clinton — doesn’t have much credibility on “opposition to corporate money in politics” nor gay rights.

    HRC, which has endorsed or fawned over dozens of DOMA-supporting Democrats since 1996, also doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.

    You cannot endorse, campaign for and donate to pro-DOMA bigots like Joe Biden, the late Paul Wellstone, Karl Levin, Frank Lautenberg, Daniel Patrick Leahy, and dozens of others and then claim “outrage” over indirect support for an anti-gay-marriage state candidate. HRC and MoveOn have no credibility in the gay community, and that’s translated into their campaign being a flop even in the most sympathetic places.

    Hopefully this marks the end of “gay” groups that are REALLY whores to the Democratic Party, and will usher an honest era of LGBT politics that doesn’t paper-over Democratic Party homophobia while breaking down into melodramatic histrionics at arguably less-outrageous GOP homophobia (a state governor’s opposition to marriage equality is nowhere near as bad as a vote for DOMA).

  • libhomo

    Any time anybody does anything to fight heterosexism, the corporate media will attack them. The LA Times is beholden to Target, and that is why they are lying about the Target boycott. If I still lived in LA, I would cancel my subscription to that paper over this.

  • DR

    Quote:”What’s most amusing, however, is that when Doug Manchester, the San Diego hotel owner, offered to donate $125,000 to gay groups as a make good for his $125,000 contribution to support Prop 8, gay groups balked. Now, they want Target to do that very thing, and somehow don’t believe it to be blood money.”

    Thank you, Queerty, for this observation.

    Of course, the minute Target does donate money to a GLBT cause, all the holier-than-thou types will start calling anyone who accepts the money “kapos” and “quislings”.

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