Friday, December 09, 2005

Brains vs. Boycotts

The latest kerfluffle to hit the gay blogosphere seems to be the fight picked over at Americablog, where John Aravosis seems once again, with cheers from the usual suspects, to be bent on taking an American corporate giant down, in this case Ford Motor Company, for supposedly "caving" to right-wing antigay bigots by making the decision to no longer advertise their Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications, allegedly under pressure from the homophobic American Family Association.

However, there are gays with clearer heads taking a good look at the situation out there, notably Blog Allies Christian Grantham, Robbie at The Malcontent, and the ever-intrepid information gatherer Lloydletta, and coming up with roughly the same conclusion -- this is more about a need to play the victim than it is an intelligent reaction to the issues.

To support their reasoning, I will put forward another one....the actions these overstimulated "activists" are taking, if successful, will ultimately result in the outcome the AFA wants.

How, you ask?

Right now, Ford is not on what could be called "sound financial footing". Their corporate bonds are at junk bond level, the high price of gas is drastically cutting into sales of their bread-and-butter SUVs and trucks, their spree of incentive offerings this summer has tapped out the market, and they're reportedly getting ready to close several plants.

Now, consider the AFA's goals from its boycott last summer. It wants Ford to stop supporting ANYTHING gay, period, not just advertising -- hiring gays, diversity training, community support, partner benefits, you name it.

Now, as any businessperson knows, what happens when you're in financial trouble? You cut back on advertising and community support, especially to niche markets and communities with minimal returns on your dollar, and focus on your core. You cut training to the bare essentials. You slow down or stop hiring completely. You lay off workers, or you keep workers, but cut pay and benefits. Most importantly, if financial trouble gets worse, you accelerate the pace of these.

In short, what better way to get Ford to stop doing all the things you want them to stop doing than to push them deeper into financial trouble -- especially when yours isn't the group doing it?

This is so beautifully Machiavellian from a strategic standpoint, it's amazing. In exchange for a minor concession, the AFA has managed to turn the whole "gay community" against Ford, and in the process, strike at the taproot of Ford's ability to support the "homosexual agenda" -- vehicle sales. The less cars and trucks Ford sells, the less money they have to devote to gay community events and advertising -- assuming they are willing to give any money to a group that is the cause of their financial problems in the first place AND wasn't very receptive when they WERE being nice to it. That neatly solves those two problems for the AFA.

The employee benefits issue can be handled via another wrinkle that comes into play with the Ford situation -- the religious right's overtures toward unions. As I pointed out this summer, the religious right is well-aware of the disconnect between the political activity of unions and the political beliefs of union members. When you apply this to what's going on with Ford, all the AFA has to do is to point out to the workers losing their jobs because of Ford losing sales that the same "gay rights activists" who union leadership is supporting with the union dues these workers pay are the ones whose boycott is causing these workers to lose their jobs or take massive pay and benefit cuts. The word "cataclysmic" is not strong enough to describe what will be taking place. How long do you think union members will continue to contribute to support people who are making them unemployed? More importantly, how hard do you think union members will push to protect "gay rights" or to sacrifice their own family benefits for domestic-partner benefits when these same people are costing THEIR families benefits?

Finally, consider the obvious. Every plant, every office, every position that Ford is forced to close or eliminate does three things -- put glbt workers out of a job, takes away job opportunities for glbt workers, and in either case, takes away benefits from glbt workers and their families. If the idea is to protect glbt workers and their benefits, forcing Ford to do any of these is completely counterproductive.

In short, this boycott, if successful, will push Ford into severe financial distress or completely out of business, thereby eliminating Ford advertising in gay publications, Ford supporting community events, Ford offering employment opportunities to glbts, and Ford giving glbts partner benefits -- everything the AFA wants, all wrapped up in one nice, neat package, and handed to them. Best of all, the AFA's hands are clean -- it was those godless homosexuals who were doing the boycotting, just like they will do to you if you don't do exactly what they say and run your business in a totally-irrational fashion to please them. Look at all the straight workers and their families who these homos made lose their jobs -- do you want the same thing to happen at your business?

If the gay community wanted Ford's continued support, we could have rallied around them when the AFA first announced their "boycott" back in May. We had more than ample opportunity to take advantage of the fact that, as my previous link mentioned, Ford was giving money to gay organizations for every Jaguar they sold, and reward them for doing so. However, the difference between us and the AFA is that the AFA acts; show me where John Aravosis, HRC, or any of the numerous others put even a tenth of the effort they are now putting into bashing Ford into praising Ford when they WERE advertising in gay publications and getting a perfect HRC score.

Ford made a decision to go with what made the most sense for their business. What these "activists" are doing is saying that they would rather run Ford out of business, costing thousands of glbt workers and their families their jobs, their benefits, and their livelihoods, than go without ads or with "generic" ads in gay magazines.

That's just plain sick. But it's also what happens when people whose only concern is justifying their victimization are the public spokespeople for glbts. Even with the example of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton before us, gays seem bent on repeating the mistakes of the black civil rights movement; until we realize that and take action, people will continue to ignore or disregard us.

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