Russia

The Terrible, Bad, No-Good Plan to Boycott Stoli Vodka over Russia's Vile Treatment of Gays

Don't let anger and frustration lead to bad strategies

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Drink up!
Credit: Stolichnaya

Russia is a pretty terrible place to be right now if you're gay. They recently criminalized anything remotely gay, outlawed gay pride events, and banned adoptions by foreign gay couples. Russian nationalists are using social media to lure out gay teens and torture them on video. Gay people in Russia are being publicly physically attacked with no consequence; indeed, the police and government seem to be cheering it on.

It's difficult to watch such a large, developed nation treat people so terribly, and so Westerners are mulling over what we could possibly do to influence Russia to change its behavior.

Inevitably such talk leads to calls for boycotts. It is the most logical choice. We have no real influence over Russia's politics as citizens. The overwhelming political approval of anti-gay legislation in Russia indicates internal resistance is going to be extremely difficult and dangerous. In this situation, a refusal to contribute to Russia's economy is probably the only way an average Westerner can respond.

There was some chatter about trying to boycott the Sochi Olympics in 2014, but that seems extremely unlikely. The latest call is to boycott Russian vodkas, and gay bars across the country have started to come on board.

One of the big targets is Stolichnaya Vodka, and here's the boycott starts running into problems in this big world full of global corporations and international trade. The Stoli we drink here in the states is not made in Russia. It's actually made in Latvia. It is actually a different vodka from what is sold within Russia. Russia seized the internal brands and renationalized them back in 2001. There is a big, nasty battle between Russia and the private Stolichnaya company and its owner, Yuri Scheffler.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that boycotters quite get it. Stoli sent out an open letter Thursday, declaring its support for gay rights, mentioning its history of activity within the gay community in America and other countries. But, Dan Savage posted, this isn't enough. What are they doing about about the suffering of gays in Russia? Scheffler is one of Russia's richest men!

There's a big Western bias in this argument, assuming that Russia's corporatism is like America's or Europe's corporatism. Because Scheffler's rich, he must have some sort of government influence! There must be something he can do! No doubt there are certainly similarities, but you simply can't ignore Russia's deeply nationalist streak and how closely it's flirting with autocracy. It doesn't take that much research to see how difficult a position Scheffler is in. Russia wants his company. This story from The Guardian from 2002 makes it very clear that Scheffler is no friend of Putin's:

In May, 200 masked police ransacked the SPI headquarters in Moscow. An SPI spokesman said: 'These stormtroopers openly said they were assigned to destabilise our business rather than find any proof of our guilt.'

A few months later, the government issued a decree 'to restore and protect the exclusive rights of the Russian Federation' to vodka brands, and to punish 'those guilty of harming the interests of the Russian Federation'.

Scheffler himself is wanted for "questioning" for allegedly threatening the director of the parts of the Russian company that were renationalized.

What's sad about this effort is that if Russia succeeds in getting its hands back on Stoli, then a boycott actually makes sense. But the consequence will be that a powerful businessman who does support the gay community will lose his company. Boycotting Stoli now is a very bad idea. Scheffler is an ally who the gay and lesbian community needs to work with, not alienate. From a Western perspective it may be hard to realize that an incredibly rich person like Scheffler has the potential to be a victim of Russia's authoritarian regime like its gay citizens or members of Pussy Riot, but it's extremely important not to look at the nature of power and influence there the way we do here.

Mandatory reading for anybody looking to understand Russia's mindset these days: Cathy Young's lengthy piece from the January issue of Reason magazine, "Putin Goes to Church." The country is willing to let children rot in state facilities rather than be adopted by Americans. Keep that in mind.

NEXT: Polls Show Weiner Support Getting Flaccid in Mayoral Election

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  1. Boycotts tend to be collective guilting, and therefore disgusting. It’s nice to see you’re not doing that, Scott. Kudos.

    1. If one simply must boycott, a focused boycott is best. For instance, the Russian government makes most of its money from two things: oil and Russian women (porn, wife-selling, etc.). Boycotting oil won’t work, since we don’t get much from Russia, so they should boycott their women.

      1. No Famke Janssen? I can live with that.

        1. You also have to send back your Russian wives.

          1. Eh, they never stick around for long anyway. It’s hard to get an honest days work out of them once they learn enough English to say “Please to be sending me back to gulag.”

            1. You could always switch to another Eastern European nation.

        2. She’s Dutch dude.

          1. Have you seen their respective flags? It’s the most transparent ruse in geopolitics.

          2. Clearly someone didn’t see Goldeneye. You can’t fake an accent like that.

            1. Barbara Bach? Also Russian.

            2. It explains Taken, too. Her daughter was targeted because of Albanian/Russian mob competition.

            3. Yeah, and no more Sean Connery films. Fucking Russian.

              1. But he defected. Doesn’t that make him ok?

                1. No, it makes him a Russian import.

                  1. But also a sailor, and you can’t get any gayer than that.

                    1. I didn’t see any women on that sub, did you?

                    2. Subs are always full of seamen.

                      Yeah, yeah it’s an old joke.

          3. Famke is a Frisian name.

            1. Really? If I’m recalling correctly, Frisian is the language closest to English. Other than whatever they speak in England, that is.

    2. Banning orange juice in gay bars was seen as an effective way of derailing Anita Bryant’s career in the late ’70s. I think unfortunately a lot of gay rights activists gravitate to this era with little innovation in strategy* and end up with a “when all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail mentality.”

      *”Glitter bombers” should be shot on sight. Pie washes off, but glitter is the herpes of the craft world: once you’ve got it, it’s there for the long haul.

  2. If I am not mistaken Saudi Arabia has the death penalty for homosexuality. Does these people plan to stop buying oil?

    1. If I stop going to Florida, I am saving the blacks and the gays!

      -A liberal thought, somewhere in America

      1. The homosexuals can’t resist key west. It is like a gay Mecca. For the blacks, I don’t know, cheap menthol cigarettes?

        1. I went there once. And I didn’t notice that many gays there. It was mostly just tourists and couples and such.

          1. There are a lot of gays there. Tons who live there, tons who visit.

            On the other hand, there are lots of other people who visit there, too, so it’s not like it’s all gay all the time.

            I think it may have tapered off some as a gay destination only because there’s more gay tolerance in general these days.

            1. I guess it struck me as a typical artsy off beat American community, which usually includes more than its share of gays. But I never felt out of place being there as a straight person. It isn’t anything like Provencetown or Fire Island or something.

              1. Go there for Fantasy Fest sometime (late October). You still may not feel out of place, but you will definitely notice a difference.

                1. That said, while I’ve never been to that event, I have friends who have. There are plenty of not-gay people there, including women in body paint.

                  1. You know, you say that like it’s a good thing, this body paint, but I know from other “fests” that it’s the wrong women donning such pigmentation.

  3. Dan Savage has demonstrated again and again that he does not care who gets fucked over in order to win a victory for his identity group.

    I’ve read his column for years. I like his ideas about sexual conduct and ethics, and the effort he puts into getting information out about sexual safety and health.

    But lately the incessant Christian-bashing and shilling for Democrats who pay lip service to his cause (who cares about all this drone murdering and pot clinic raiding – Obama just tweeted that gays aren’t subhuman!) has me ready to “boycott” anything with his name attached to it.

    1. That is exactly how I feel about him, too. I wish he would just shut his pie hole about politics (of which he demonstrates a clear lack of understanding or logic) and stick to sex.

      1. He makes some interesting points. But I think he is full of shit in the end. Polymory is just not a sustainable or happy lifestyle for 95% of the world. Good for the 5% that it works for. But Savage really seems to think it is good for the other 95%. And all evidence in history says just the opposite. We are for whatever reasons jealous and possessive creatures when it comes to romance. His opinions are just warmed shit that was tried and failed in the 60s and 70s. I am as free love as the next guy. But wishing the world were one way and what the world actually is are two different things.

        1. I am as free love as the next guy.

          I don’t think you realize how much leather the next guy is wearing.

          1. To each their own.

        2. I haven’t picked up from reading Savage that he thinks polyamory or any other lifestyle is good for everyone. He pretty well sticks to telling people to mind their own business, and to drop him a line if they want a judgement-free response to a taboo question.

          1. Not that I’m a Savage scholar; I’ve just never noticed him advocating anything in terms of lifestyle.

            Now politics, on the other hand…

          2. Well, judgment-free unless you think sexual maturity is better than sexual immaturity. Then the knives come out.

            1. I think “judgment-free” means you don’t believe in things like “sexual maturity” or “immaturity.”

              1. I think “judgment-free” means you don’t believe in things like “sexual maturity” or “immaturity.”

                So Savage judges my judging? Well, I never!

              2. So he’s a member of NAMBLA?

            2. I’m curious what you mean. Because there are frequently letters from conservative, sexually-vanilla types that he responds to perfectly respectfully. Is that what you mean by “sexually mature”? Because if so (and I’m not assuming that’s the case), then the knives would come out becuase you are being judgemental about how others should lead their sexual lives in ways that don’t affect you.

              1. There are very fuzzy lines to be drawn, but I didn’t “invent” all of the diagnoses in the DSM.

              2. Because if so (and I’m not assuming that’s the case), then the knives would come out becuase you are being judgemental about how others should lead their sexual lives in ways that don’t affect you.

                I mean, are you saying I should never have an opinion on something that doesn’t affect me directly?

                “My husband cheats on me!”
                “So fucking what? That doesn’t affect me.”

                1. This comment makes it pretty clear you’ve read zero to very little Savage.

                  Of course the sexual live of people you are in sexual relationships with affects you. The response to “my husband cheats on me” would be along the lines of “communicate, determine if the relationship is salvageable or if you want to salvage it, or dtmfa.”

                  But most importantly: you can have whatever opinions you want. But referring to someone with different opinions about sex and relationships as “sexually immature” is judgemental.

                  1. No, it makes it very clear you didn’t read what I wrote.

        3. I don’t think he’s telling anyone to go out and be polyamorous (it’s been a few years since I’ve paid much attention to him so he could have shifted gears). He encourages couples to not throw away otherwise workable relationships over indiscretions. If polyamory or an open relationship works for a couple, great, but if it doesn’t those boundaries need to be clearly communicated.

          His core sexual ethos isn’t really free love, but being indulgent up to one’s tolerance for your partner’s quirks, being willing to try new things, being honest about boundaries and limitations and communicating issues.

          1. But then it becomes pointless because most people’s tolerance doesn’t include allowing affairs. Maybe it should, but it just doesn’t and probably never will.

            1. But is it the sex that actually bothers them or the betrayal of keeping it a secret? And how much of the upset is because they’re actually upset vs. because society tells them they’re supposed to be upset?

          2. I read Savage for years, and while I don’t think the broad brush John has out for him is fair, I don’t think the rose-colored glasses you have on for Savage are accurate, either.

            1. That’s certainly possible. I mostly listened to him when I was in college and was coming out of a very fundamentalist religious background. From that point he was a revelation. I took what I thought was beneficial and I shucked most of the rest.

              I am well aware that he has a penchant for being an insufferable asshole, and I generally started to disagree with is advice over time, which is why I don’t pay much attention to him now.

              1. One reality of focusing on people’s quirks is that one starts to believe everyone has quirks.

                1. Like some people here who think women who have rape fantasies are weird or out of the norm?

                  1. You’re not going to hear a peep out of me.

                    Now, pop on over to a “tolerance” forum and tell them you’re a *Man* who has rape fantasies. Ruh roh.

                  2. Like some people here who think women who have rape fantasies are weird or out of the norm?

                    Who thinks that? I don’t even know when I’ve ever seen rape fantasies brought up.

                    1. I don’t even know when I’ve ever seen rape fantasies brought up.

                      Someone suggested Ayn Rand was fucked in the head because she clearly had (and wrote about) rape fantasies.

                    2. I googled that b/c I heard it here and it led to a Jezebel article. I’m ashamed to say I read it. Man do they hate libertarians over there. I wanted to comment but the thread was like 5 years old so that would of had the same effect as screaming at the clouds.

                  3. Aren’t women’s rape fantasies the entire basis of the romance novel industry?

                    1. Aren’t women’s rape fantasies the entire basis of the romance novel industry

                      Pretty much! I would never read a romance novel that didn’t have some sort of dominant-submissive sex scenes. I once tried to watch a porno that was supposed to have been made for women. It was so goddamn boring.

        4. I’ve never seen Savage promote polyamory, he (like me) merely thinks if that’s what floats your boat, might as well be honest about it. Just because most people who engage in polyamorous relationships will eventually realize it doesn’t work for them, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try it or be allowed to do it. Savage’s whole policy on sex and relationships is to be honest about your needs and if it works out, it works out.

          1. And that is just meaningless platitudes. Since when in this society are people not willing to explore their kinks? Has Savage not heard of the interweb thingy?

            1. According to the people who write into his column (assuming the letters and question are real), LOTS of people have A LOT of trouble expressing and exploring their desires with sex partners.

              1. He has a national column. That is how many out of 300 million?

                1. Obviously there’s a need for his advice (which I agree with Neo is now repetitive, and if you haven’t “gotten it” by now, then you’re just fucking stupid). I read it because I’m entertained by the letters and the hand-wringing over trifling issues (“how can I tell my boyfriend that I want him to go down on me? I’m all tied up in knots!! Woe is to me!”)

                  1. how can I tell my boyfriend that I want him to go down on me? I’m all tied up in knots!! Woe is to me!

                    I’ve dated that. It’s miserable.

                    1. But did you have trouble saying “Hey! Get your mouth on my dick!”? I dunno. I always thought I was somewhat repressed, but reading the shit that Savage Love letter-writers agonize over makes me realize I’m pretty good-to-go in the sex department.

                    2. I had no problem communicating what I was looking for and he’d be on the verge of saying what he was interested and then panic and clamp down muttering it was just too out there. I stayed in for too long because it was my first real relationship.

                  2. I read Savage because his advice column is frequently hilarious and he’s a fun writer.

                    This goes back to our discussion of boycotting. I think Savage’s politics are vile and disgusting, but I like the overall product he provides. So I read it and just roll my eyes when he goes on a dipshit TEAM BLUE rant.

            2. I think that having a hard time expressing what you want sexually and being open about that stuff is something that most people have a hard time with to some extent. Reading about shit on teh internet is a whole different thing from actually asking your partner to do something new.

        5. “But I think he is full of shit in the end”

          Umm… phrasing? /archer

      2. From a Western perspective it may be hard to realize that an incredibly rich person like Scheffler has the potential to be a victim of Russia’s authoritarian regime…

        This is kind of punch pulling. Change “Western perspective” with “ignorant Western perspective” and it gets a lot better. There are Russian billionaires in exile, and they can’t go home because they will be immediately tossed in prison. Money means shit in a one party state if that one party just doesn’t like you. It’s an authoritarian state for everyone in Russia, not just the gays, and Savage should be able to figure that out.

        1. How could someone be so stupid that they think there are people who somehow are immune from victimization by an authoritarian state? No one is immune. That is what makes it authoritarian.

      3. I wish he would just shut his pie hole about politics (of which he demonstrates a clear lack of understanding or logic) and stick to sex.

        This seems to be a common complaint about him, and I agree.

      4. That is exactly how I feel about him, too. I wish he would just shut his pie hole about politics (of which he demonstrates a clear lack of understanding or logic) and stick to sex.

        The problem is the Internet has made Savage dated.

        Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, people wrote in to him to find fellow diaper-fetishists, or for relationship advice with respect to sex. Well, the former is now easily googable and he’s just on repeat with the latter (be GGG! Campfire rule! Etc!) with nothing new to say.

        There is, in short, no more “wobble” in sex. There’s wobble in politics.

    2. His torpedoing of Senator Cumfart was pretty lulzy though.

      1. 137 years ago.

    3. I like his ideas about sexual conduct and ethics,

      You do? He boasted about intentionally infecting people he hated with the flu. He has the ethics of a cockroach.

      http://www.thestranger.com/sea…..t?oid=3092

      1. He did? What a scumbag. And let me guess, his commitment to polymory involves his desire to have affairs with large numbers of women, most of whom are half his age? Just a guess, but I bet he isn’t that interested in sharing the gifts of polymory with the old, homely, or fat women.

        1. Uhhh…

          This is a really ignorantly funny rant here.

        2. Oh my. I see you haven’t read much Dan Savage.

          1. HE’S READ ENOUGH TO HAVE STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT HIM!

            Actually Savage does have a weird hang up about obesity (probably because he was heavy and lost a lot of weight, and now has food hangups)

            1. his desire to have affairs with large numbers of women

              Yabut…how could anyone who has even just read one of Dan Savage’s columns think this is even in the universe of possibilities?

              1. This is why John is my favorite H&R commenter. Every time I read one of John’s comments, I never know what to expect. I just know it will never be boring.

                It’s like exploring a universe in which the accepted laws of physics are broken and reason itself has faded from the world.

                1. So everything I write is without logic or reason? I think that may say more about your abilities than mine.

                  1. So everything I write is without logic or reason?

                    I didn’t say that John. I often agree with you. It’s just that you sometimes don’t think before you post, and are a little too fond of forming extreme opinions about groups and people that you clearly don’t know anything about.

                    Like just now, when you claimed that an openly gay advice columnist wants to bang young women.

              2. It’s John

        3. He did? What a scumbag. And let me guess, his commitment to polymory involves his desire to have affairs with large numbers of women, most of whom are half his age? Just a guess, but I bet he isn’t that interested in sharing the gifts of polymory with the old, homely, or fat women.

          John, I don’t think Dan Savage wants to have affairs with a large number of women, no matter what their ages.

        4. That’s hilarious, but probably not for the reason you intend John.

        5. Yeah, um, Dan Savage is gay… rather flagrantly so.

          If anything he’s mildly misogynistic. I recall some controversy over him describing a woman’s genetalia as looking like a canned ham that’s been dropped out of a 5 story building.

    4. More to the point, it’s not the kind of talk that will win hearts and minds among Russian citizens.

    5. ready to “boycott” anything with his name attached to it

      Michael Savage? Doc Savage? Richard Savage? Ever read My Official Wife? Hilarious because most of the way, the reader is ahead of the story teller, something like the Jeeves stories of Wodehouse, and you can laugh at him. Nice travelog too, like Wash. Irving.

  4. You can pry my Russian made EL84s from my cold dead hands.

  5. Does anyone know how Stoli in particular became a target for the boycotts? Is it particularly popular relative to other brands that come from Russia?

    1. I think it’s particularly popular in gay bars.

    2. Stoli is the most visible russian export.

      I don’t know much about caviar – is that branded, or just sold generically?

      1. Except its not actually a Russian export.

        1. It’s hard to find good data immediately, but other than vodkas, there don’t appear to be many Russian consumer products imported to the US. Most of our imports from Russia are petroleum products and metals.

        2. Assume you mean Stoli. Yes, that was clearly stated in the article. But I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of whether buying Stoli brand products enriches the Russian government. Nobody here seems to know.

          1. Not according to Stoli:

            The Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe,” he wrote, adding, “Stoli’s production process involves both Russia and Latvia. Stoli is made from Russian ingredients (wheat, rye and raw alcohol) blended with pure artesian well water at our historic distillery and bottling facility in Riga, Latvia.”

  6. I so hope there is some openly gay athlete that wins a metal and holds up the gay pride flag along with his countries flag or kisses their partner in front of the crowd and TV. That would do a lot more than a boycott.

    1. Now this is the crusade the boycotters should take up. The athelete doesn’t have to be gay, either. Just get someone likely to win a medal to commit to holding up a pride flag.

      1. Yep – that would be super.

    2. Assume you mean at the forthcoming Olympics. Yes, that would nice, BUT: You can’t guarantee that an openly gay athlete will medal (seems numerically likely, but not certain). I assume that such a display would violate IOC rules and the athlete would lose the medal; which is a loss not only for the individual athlete but for his team and country.

      1. You can’t guarantee that an openly gay athlete will medal (seems numerically likely, but not certain).

        Did they eliminate men’s figure skating? Because while I believe there are one or two straight men competing in the sport, I’m not sure anyone else believes them.

    3. I so hope there is some openly gay athlete that wins a metal and holds up the gay pride flag along with his countries flag or kisses their partner in front of the crowd and TV. That would do a lot more than a boycott.

      I think that’d be great, but the people in Russia won’t see it their news orgs will be prohibited from broadcasting it under the gay propaganda laws (they probably wouldn’t broadcast it anyway because they’re just puppets of Putin’s regime at this point).

      1. I don’t think they have Chinese-style firewall do they? Of course from what I read every Chinese person knows how to skirt that anyway.

        So I’d say they would definitely see it.

  7. What I find interesting is the consistent negative reaction which HR has to any attempt by the gay community to boycott any business we view as hostile to ourselves. These break down into two main arguments: 1) It’ll never work and 2) your’re hurting the wrong people.

    If these boycotts are ineffective, for whatever reason, then there is no problem.

    But more importantly it is our money to spend, or not, as we see fit. Nobody has any right to the continued business of anyone else. Funny how this feature of a truly free market is conveniently forgotten when certain issues come up.

    Shackford isn’t completely clear whether buying Stoli export does indeed funnel tax revenue to the Russian government. If there were a way to buy Latvian-made vodka from that nice Mr. Scheffler without giving tax dollars to Mr. Putin I’d be all over that.

    US feminists are often (and rightly) criticised here for their refusal to condemn islamic countries that badly mistreat women and deny them rights. Yet when gay people actually embark on a campaign, even if not a perfectly-planned one, to push back against oppression of gays in foreign countries, we get pushback.

    1. When does H&R ever support boycotts? Never as far as I can remember. Of course you can spend your money as you like. But there are tons of countries in the world who have much worse gay laws than Russia.

      So why is Russia being singled out? And if treatment of gays overseas is not going to be an important issue in the American gay community, I say bravo and it is over due. Now, what is the plan for dealing with pretty much the entire Islamic world?

    2. Because they did absolutely zero research before choosing Stoli as a target and as a result they’re not just hurting the wrong people, they’re hurting an ally.

      1. Thanks for your response.

        Would you please clarify this: Shackford isn’t completely clear whether buying Stoli export does indeed funnel tax revenue to the Russian government.

        Also, not to nit-pick, but were you privy to their deliberations and certain that they did “absolutely zero research”, or are you just assuming this because of the outcome?

        I acknowledged that Mr. Sheffler was an ally (by calling him nice), and expressed regret that there was not a way to support him without (presumably) also enriching the government of Russia. I also asked for a clarification of whether purchasing Stoli in the US did indeed provide tax revenue to the Russian government. Hoping for a response.

        But it seems that the gay community is in a bit of a bind – I can’t think of that many Russian exports consumed in the US, except for Stoli, so it seems boycott options are limited. Yet if we don’t do anything we get dinged.

        1. So you boycott something, at worst, totally unrelated, and at best, a significant distance from the target.

          “Also, not to nit-pick”

          You did.

    3. There’s a difference between an imperfect plan and one obviously not thought out at all. This is the latter.

      1. Were you privy to their deliberations?

        1. Why do we have to be?

          Why do you think banging on that line will get you anywhere?

          It seems the other option is that they did deliberate and this idiotic farce is what they came up with. Is that your point?

          1. The question was directed at Mr. Shackford.

            1. Oops, originally to Shackford, then to NLK, who made the same assertion.

    4. FWIW, I think boycotts are a wonderful free-market, non-coercive solution for political purposes. And if anyone whines about “feeling pressured by society”, I have a Jezebel user name to sell you.

      1. Do you think so? I am not so sure. What is the end game of a boycott? You either want the person to change their politics or go out of business right? If not one of those two things, what do you want?

        If you want those two things, aren’t you really saying that anyone who doesn’t hold acceptable politics has no right to be in business? I may disagree with my dry cleaners’ views on whatever political subject. But I don’t think that means he has no right to be in business. And if I think he has a right to be in business, how is it right of me not to frequent his business because of his politics? If he is the best dry cleaner available, why not other than I think that is politics should disqualify him from being in business? If he is not entitled to my money, he isn’t entitled to anyone else money either.

        1. If he is not entitled to my money, he isn’t entitled to anyone else money either.

          Say what?

          1. Think about it. If it is wrong for me to frequent that business, why isn’t it also wrong for everyone else? Again, what are you trying to accomplish in the boycott and what is the reason for doing it?

            The only reason I can think of not frequenting an otherwise competitive business over politics is because I think there is something wrong with giving money to someone who thinks that way. Well, if it is wrong, no one should be doing it. Right?

            1. If it is wrong for me to frequent that business

              Who said it was wrong? You’re rebutting an argument that no one is making.

              1. If it is not wrong to do it, then why are you boycotting it?

                1. There’s a local McDonalds store that I refuse to patronize because the morons in the grill put cheese on hamburgers, and being lactose intolerant I prefer my hamburgers without cheese. I choose not to do business with them not because it is wrong to give them my money, but because they’re too stupid to make a hamburger without cheese.

                  Nice straw man, Red Tony.

                2. I think you’re confusing other people’s feelings with their sense of morality. A boycott is merely feeling-based. Kind of how you might stop going to a restaurant if the waitresses are bitches.

                  1. Btw, I think boycotts are stupid and rarely amount to anything. But I’m the same way as you and I don’t let politics affect my buying choices. Others are different.

              2. Again sarcasmic, what result do you want to achieve by not frequenting that business? At the very least it is making sure your money is not spent to support that person. Why is my money going to support it any better? Shouldn’t I follow your lead? It is the right thing to do or you wouldn’t be doing it. And if I and everyone else follows your lead, the guy is out of business because he had the wrong politics.

                1. Your inner collectivist is hanging out, Red Tony.

                  “If I can’t force others to do it too, then there’s no point!”

                  1. No, you’re saying that someone who has views you disagree with isn’t getting your money

                    I don’t expect you to agree with me. But I do expect you to understand the argument. So think a little harder. The point is not that anyone should be forced to do anything. The point is basically a restatement of the categorical imperative. I shouldn’t be doing things that I am not willing to have everyone else do. If everyone follows my lead and judges businesses based on politics rather than quality, then people who hold unpopular political views will no longer be able to run businesses. I think that is a pretty bad result. Therefore, i shouldn’t be judging businesses on the politics of their owners. And thus, boycotts are lousy things.

                    1. But some political views really are abhorrent. If a business owner openly supported a return to segregation, or something like that, then they should go out of business. Fuck ’em. If someone tries to boycott a business because of something stupid like that they vote for Democrats or something, then not so many people will go along with it (and others may give that business more of their business, like what happened Chick Fil-A).

                2. Again sarcasmic, what result do you want to achieve by not frequenting that business?

                  I want them to not get my money because I find their views repellent.

                  At the very least it is making sure your money is not spent to support that person.

                  Yes.

                  Why is my money going to support it any better?

                  It doesn’t matter. So long as I’m not forcing you to boycott them with me, no harm is done.

                  It is the right thing to do or you wouldn’t be doing it. And if I and everyone else follows your lead, the guy is out of business because he had the wrong politics.

                  When is the last time a boycott has actually resulted in a company going out of business?

                  1. Okay Irish, it is totally okay for you to engage in activities that if taken to their logical conclusion would result in a pretty horrible world because well, there is no danger that would really happen. That is a great sense of morality you have there.

                    1. if taken to their logical conclusion

                      There is nothing logical about assuming that someone boycotting a business will result in everyone boycotting a business.

                    2. And sometimes boycotts backfire. Chik-fil-a picked up enough extra business* from supporters to offset the losses caused by the boycott.

                      (*)Based on figures supplied by CFA and not independently verified. It is possible that they were financially hurt by the boycott and simply didn’t want to admit that.

                  2. When is the last time a boycott has actually resulted in a company going out of business?

                    Exactly. Red Tony is attacking a straw man.

                    1. And if a company did go out of business, so what? As I pointed out above, boycotts are part of a truly free market. Boycotts are one of the few circumstances in which HR (meaning certain commenters) get all anti-market.

                3. John, what the hell are you arguing here? If someone wants to boycott something, that’s up to them. If you agree with their judgement, you can boycott it too. If not, you don’t. You may think that all right thinking people should agree with you and boycott the things that you do, but others may disagree. I really don’t see what you are objecting to. A boycott may not be the most effective way to make things change in a lot of cases, but it is completely voluntary and involves no use of force against anyone, so why would you object or think there is anything wrong with it.

                  If you are just boycotting your cleaner because he votes for the wrong people or something, not many people will join your boycott. But if you were to boycott a restaurant which refused to serve gay people or black people or whatever, a lot more people woudl join you. Why are you having such a hard time understanding that everyone gets to make up their own mind about it?

            2. The few times I’ve refused to buy a product from a company (*cough* Apple *cough*) it is because I refuse to give any of my money to them. If other people want to waste their shekels on shoddy crap that breaks in less than a year, that’s on them. It’s still an individual choice, regardless of whether it’s an “organized” boycott.

              1. Kristin,

                Sure other people can waste their money. But in your view they are making a mistake. So if you follow your logic, they really shouldn’t be doing it and the place shouldn’t be in business.

                Now, if it is because they give bad service, that is one thing. People should go out of business for giving bad service or doing nasty things that screw up the market. That is what hte markets for. But should they go out of business because they believe in their private lives some objectionable political views? Say they are privately commies or Nazis but run a hell of a dry cleaner? I don’t think so. To say otherwise, I would have to say that their political views are so vile they should have no right to earn a living as long as they hold those views. And I refuse to say that, even for views I loath.

                1. Sure other people can waste their money. But in your view they are making a mistake. So if you follow your logic, they really shouldn’t be doing it and the place shouldn’t be in business.

                  Wrong. The icky part of liberty is being free to make mistakes.

                  1. Wrong. The icky part of liberty is being free to make mistakes.

                    Sure. But that is not what we are debating here. The point is are boycotts the right thing to do. Should you base your purchases on your judgement of the seller’s politics. And I say no, you shouldn’t. Why, because if everyone did that, it would be a much less free world where everyone had to constantly worry that holding unpopular views would deprive them of the ability to make a living.

                    How about we not boycott anything and leave politics out of commerce? Maybe some parts of life should not involve politics.

                    1. Why, because if everyone did that

                      But everyone is not going to do that, so anything that follows from that premise is inane.

                    2. Sarcasmic,

                      Most people would not commit murder. But that doesn’t make murder moral. If it is wrong for large numbers of people to base commerce on political consideration, it is wrong for the individual to do it as well.

                    3. What’s wrong about it?

                      There’s no initiation of force. No violence. Forcing others to join your boycott is wrong, but choosing to not engage in commerce with some entity for whatever reason is not wrong.

                      You’re heading into “inaction is action” Tony-style reasoning here.

                    4. “The point is are boycotts the right thing to do. ”

                      So, sarcasmic should just eat the cheese? And spend money at a place that can’t give him what he pays for?

                      If someone doesn’t do what I want, then yes, not giving them my money is the right thing to do.

                2. I just don’t get what you’re saying. Obviously I think people are stupid to give money to Apple. And I have said as much to many people. But I don’t force them to stop buying Apple products. Don’t you get that participating in a boycott is an individual choice? And that choosing how to dispose of your property is one of the fundamentals of libertarian ideology? We live in a country where it’s possible to pick and choose from many different products & services, and that choice may involve politics or simply pure, unadulterated dislike of the product. Regardless of why you do it, you make choices every day as to who will get your money and who will not. I would love nothing more than to see Apple run out of business, but I’m not forcing anyone to not buy their products.

                  1. Gah.

                    PEOPLE, libertarianism is not a proxy for morality!

                    Sure, you have the choice to dispose of your property. I also have the ability to tell you you’re a stone-cold moron for disposing it in that fashion.

                    I agree with John for the most part – we should not be politicizing everything.

                    1. So are you gonna force me not to politicize anything? That’s the point. If someone whats to forego Chik-Fil-A because of their supposed anti-gay stance, that’s on them as an individual. I personally think Chik-Fil-A makes a subpar product, so I’ll spend my money elsewhere. I’d rather drive an import than a car from a company that runs itself with my tax money. Whether it’s political or quality-related, what does it matter? People make choices every day where to put their money.

                    2. So are you gonna force me not to politicize anything?

                      I am not going to force you to do anything. I am just going to say you are wrong to do it and you ought to reconsider your views. And yes, not going Chi fila because of politics is a stupid thing to do. I really you don’t think you want to live in a world where politics drives economic decisions. And when you boycott chick fila, you are helping to bring about just that sort of world.

                    3. What about GM? Would you buy a GM product, if it was as good as an import? How is that not political?

                    4. What about GM? Would you buy a GM product, if it was as good as an import? How is that not political?

                      That’s a great example. I personally will not purchase a union made car. Period.

                      I’m sure I’m not alone.

                      How is that wrong?

                      What about others who refuse to purchase a car unless it was made by union labor.

                      Is that wrong?

                    5. So are you gonna force me not to politicize anything? That’s the point.

                      No. But I am going to tell you it’s wrong to politicize everything.

                    6. Gah.

                      PEOPLE, libertarianism is not a proxy for morality!

                      And no one said it was! That’s actually why I like it as a political system. I get to have my own morals and beliefs without someone forcing their morals and beliefs on me.

                      I don’t know how you can argue that anyone here is using libertarianism as a proxy for morality.

                    7. You are. You’re saying as long as no force is initiated, boycotting is OK. That’s not how morality works.

                    8. Choosing with whom you do or do not do business with is wrong?

                    9. Choosing with whom you do or do not do business with is wrong?

                      Uh, no. I think seeking out some minor thing to have a schism over is wrong.

                      Do you ask your barber what his opinion is on capitalism? how about the gas station cashier? I mean, how far down the road are we going to take this?

                      Do you ask whether your cheese was made by people in blue shirts or red ones?

                    10. If someone goes down that road then they will quickly find that they don’t have many places with which they will do business. They will harm themselves more than anyone else.

                      Basically you’re saying that choice is morally wrong, depending upon what you’re thinking at the time.

                    11. Basically you’re saying that choice is morally wrong, depending upon what you’re thinking at the time.

                      yeah, you nailed it, professor.

        2. If you want those two things, aren’t you really saying that anyone who doesn’t hold acceptable politics has no right to be in business?

          No, you’re saying that someone who has views you disagree with isn’t getting your money. You’re not saying they have no right to do business. If I don’t like McDonald’s food, so I don’t go there, that doesn’t mean I’m infringing on McDonald’s right to do business.

          1. No, you’re saying that someone who has views you disagree with isn’t getting your money

            Why? Why shouldn’t they get your money? Why do you think that? You think that because you think giving them money is wrong. And if it is wrong for you to do it, why is it also not wrong for other people to do it?

            1. John, choosing what I do with my money isn’t infringing on anyone else’s rights to do what they want with their money.

              And if it is wrong for you to do it, why is it also not wrong for other people to do it?

              Irrelevant. So long as you aren’t forcing those other people not to give money to the company, you aren’t infringing on the company’s right to do business.

              I don’t understand why you’re so up in arms about people choosing what to do with their own money.

            2. So to bring up the classic libertarian answer to civil rights laws, lets say we got libertopia and it is legal to bar people from your business based on race. There’s a restaurant in your town that bans black people. Are you saying you wouldn’t boycott them?

              Boycotts are a perfectly free-market method of rejecting vile opinions.

              1. Going straight to the “R” word is the reason why these arguments always fall apart.

                I think John has somewhat of a good point. Do we really want to incessantly politicize everything? Do I have to buy cheese made only by libertarians now? What if my car wash guy is a Commie?

                1. ‘We’ don’t have to politicize anything. I don’t boycott things because I buy things based on whether I like the product or not. I don’t care about politics.

                  However, anyone else is free to boycott should they want to. It’s all about free choice, and John’s argument that you’re infringing on someone’s ‘right to do business’ by boycotting is ridiculous.

                  So long as no actual force is used on anyone, boycotting is valid.

                  1. Irish, I have to tell you that I think you’ve taken libertarian politics and turned it into your morality.

                    There’s no force used on anyone if I berate a 90-year-old lady with a streak of abusive language, but that don’t make that shit *right* to do.

                    1. Irish, I have to tell you that I think you’ve taken libertarian politics and turned it into your morality.

                      What? I definitely haven’t. Boycotting isn’t immoral even without looking at it from a libertarian perspective. How on Earth could anyone consider boycotting immoral?

                      I also have no idea how you decided I’ve taken libertarian politics and made it into my system of morality based on one discussion of boycotting. I’m less interested in the moral aspects of libertarianism than the vast majority of people here, so that claim makes no sense. I tend to get in arguments with more ‘pure’ libertarians because I don’t care about the morality aspect as much as they do.

                      There’s no force used on anyone if I berate a 90-year-old lady with a streak of abusive language, but that don’t make that shit *right* to do.

                      A company with political views that you don’t like is nothing like a 90 year old that you insult for no reason. That’s a massive false equivalence.

                      Here’s the thing: In a world without government forcing businesses to do things, boycotting is an effective way to stop discrimination and other horrible things. I don’t like the idea of government forcing companies not to discriminate, so a good way to punish a discriminatory company is with boycotting.

                      Boycotting has its uses, and this has nothing to do with libertarian morality.

                    2. Boycotting has its uses, and this has nothing to do with libertarian morality.

                      There is no such thing as libertarian morality. Please stop.

                      A company with political views that you don’t like is nothing like a 90 year old that you insult for no reason. That’s a massive false equivalence.

                      But the point is that force is not the end-all be-all of whether something is morally permissible. I think boycotts are ineffective wastes of time and not only that, they coarsen society because now Babu the Restaurateur cannot express his views without fear of losing his livelihood.

                  2. However, anyone else is free to boycott should they want to.

                    We are not talking about can, we are talking about should. Just because it shouldn’t be illegal doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. You miss the point. You can object to something without saying “there ought to be a law.”

              2. Scarcity,

                I would boycott. But that is because I think anyone who wouldn’t serve black people has no right to be in business. In that case, I embrace the point of the boycott. But lets say they were just ordinary racists but served anyone with a buck in their pocket. I wouldn’t boycott then because I think holding racist views shouldn’t disqualify you from commerce.

                The point is that unless you believe that the view or practice is so vile the person should not be able to run a business doing that, you should not be boycotting. You shouldn’t just boycott because you don’t like that person.

                1. I think anyone who wouldn’t serve black people has no right to be in business

                  Why not? It is there right to refuse service. It is my right to not patronize them. Why should they not be allowed to implement their flawed business model?

                  1. They can implement it Floridian. I am just okay with no one going there and thus it being impossible to operate.

                2. So you don’t think boycotts are wrong, then. You just apply different standards to when they are appropriate than other people do.

            3. ” You think that because you think giving them money is wrong.”

              Nope.

        3. I’m having trouble seeing a point there, John. No business person is entitled to anyone’s money. People get to choose who to give their money to for any reason they want.

          1. Sure you can choose. And if you choose who to give your money to based on politics rather than value, you are helping to create a world where a person’s politics determine if they can make a living.

      2. I don’t know about that. When it’s concerning a business practice, sure, but so often it’s just another case of making the political personal, too much of which creates an incredibly poisonous social climate.

    5. But more importantly it is our money to spend, or not, as we see fit. Nobody has any right to the continued business of anyone else. Funny how this feature of a truly free market is conveniently forgotten when certain issues come up.

      In fairness, no one is arguing that you can’t boycott. They’re saying that they think it’s stupid to boycott. Since no one is forcing you not to boycott, no one here is trying to stifle the free market.

      1. Right – another feature of freedom is I get to tell someone how dumb they are.

    6. I mean, try reading the post next time:

      Stoli sent out an open letter Thursday, declaring its support for gay rights, mentioning its history of activity within the gay community in America and other countries.

      1. Why, yes, I did RTFA. And nothing in my post was anti-Stoli (take your own advice about reading).

        The point of my post was that my impression was that even though Stoli and Scheffler were allies of the gay community that buying that product enriched the government of Russian. Still hoping for clarification from Shackford on this.

        1. To be sure, I think the big objection is that many boycotts (not all) are knee-jerk, groupthink that often result in harming not only the innocent but the innocent who hold the same position as the boycotters. It happens so often as to almost be a feature.

          Like boycotting Florida.

        2. The thing is that hurting a company that is pro-gay and antagonistic to the government is counterproductive.

          Using the tax logic means you can boycott literallyjoebiden every Russian product ever. That’s a terrible argument, Tonio.

          1. Terrible or not, that’s how the real world works, NLK. I’ve met elderly jews who refused to by Mercedes cars because of Hitler (they drove an eighties Jag, poor people). Also read about jews who refused to by Ford products into the late twentieth century because Henry Ford was a raging anti-semite.

            1. “Terrible or not, that’s how the real world works, NLK”

              That is literally the worst justification for a dumb decision I’ve ever heard.

              1. Srsly. The world works the way you want it to work, Tonio. If you go do something stupid and unjustified, the world gets dumber as a result.

                1. Uh, no, NLK, the world doesn’t work the way I want it to. The world works in the way that the collective actions of the its billions of inhabitants cause it to do.

                  Also, “unjustified” is highly subjective.

                  Also, also, don’t fall into the same trap as sgs and assume that a description of objective reality is the same thing as cheerleading that reality.

              2. There’s a difference between justifying something, and acknowledging reality.

                1. (This to sgs).

                2. So you’re going to do something unjustifiable because “reality”?

                  He was right – that is terrible reasoning.

        3. That, I really don’t have a full answer to. The Stoli Westerners buy is not the Stoli sold in Russia. They’re two different companies. The Russian government most certainly profits off the Stoli sold within Russia. But that’s not the same product or company this boycott is hitting.

          More importantly, though, a significant number of American businesses do business in Russia and the Russian government makes money off of them, probably much more than they do off our Stoli. Will we be boycotting all of them?

          1. Thanks for the clarification about Stoli/tax revenue. I understand that this is something you probably can’t easily get a definitive answer for.

            Will we be boycotting all of them?

            Who is this “we” of whom you speak? LOL.

            I’m not actively boycotting Stoli so much as continuing to buy Polish potato vodka as I’ve done since college upon the recommendation of an ethnically polish friend.

            1. A little more on that:

              The Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe,” he wrote, adding, “Stoli’s production process involves both Russia and Latvia. Stoli is made from Russian ingredients (wheat, rye and raw alcohol) blended with pure artesian well water at our historic distillery and bottling facility in Riga, Latvia.”

            2. Is it Monopolowa? Although I think that’s made in Austria now.

              $10/L at Trader Joe’s. I highly recommend it.

  8. Scott, You offer Absolut ly no suggestion on a better way address the Russian anti gay situation. Is do nothing the best you got? Seriously I understand that boycotts hurt allies sometimes but what else can we do?

    1. Doing nothing would actually be a more effective course of action than boycotting a pro-gay company. At least pick a company that actually has a history of giving to anti-gay causes.

      1. And that may be true.

    2. I understand that sometimes shooting a missile hurts innocent people, but I just gotta *do something*!

    3. Thank you, LovesIrony.

      But, yes, Irish does have a point. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing, but that is difficult to do and does leave one open to charges about not caring.

      It’s not realistic for US Feminists to boycott oil just because some of it might come from Saudi Arabia. But what they gonna boycott? Sand? Islam? (Please note that this is not to excuse feminists for not speaking out).

      1. I think the answer is that a boycott is a weapon in the arsenal that you can’t always use. It’s like a cop using a shotgun to get the cat out of a tree. Yeah, it came down, all right.

        Again, not that boycotts can’t be effective and reasonably precise tools, but I think they only work when everything is focused–the thing being boycotted is bad and the boycott doesn’t harm in any serious way innocent people.

    4. …what else can we do?

      If you feel the need to do something, stay with the boycott of Russian Standard vodka. It’s actually owned by a wealthy Russian, who is almost certainly pals with a few people in the Putin administration.

      1. Thanks, BritPetrol.

  9. Russia is actually more of a “Christian country” than the US ever has been, with the state actually seeing itself as the Orthodox guardian of the Slavic people.

    We should also give them a chance to realize an independent judiciary, as Putin and Medvedev have repeatedly said that they want. The current anti-gay legislation will eventually be found unconstitutional, as legal experts have been predicting since it was first drafted.

    All those people feigning outrage over the Pussy Riot thing apparently didn’t hear that copycats in Germany were also looking at a three-year sentence and, I dare say, if such a stunt had been pulled in Italy or Mexico, there would have been far less public support.

    1. Italy and Mexico both have strong traditions of anti-clericalism and defying the church.

      In Russia the church is seen as a victim of communism.

      1. I just re-read The Power and the Glory (fiction, but based on a real situation), and you can say that again about Mexico, especially in certain regions in the past.

    2. I think the Pussy Riot people got a raw deal. But I have a hard time seeing that injustice as any worse than about a million injustices going on in this country. Pussy Riot did trespass on church property. They did commit a crime. They just didn’t deserve years in prison for the crime. But of course, no one deserves ten years in prison for having some drugs and we have thousands of people who are serving just that. So forgive me for not putting much stock in US outrage at Russia over this.

  10. So now Russia is a libertarian paradise, uh? You can hunt down and bash the gays without being stopped by the government!
    Preventing the torture of gay teens is tyranny!

    1. This is an article about boycotting a company that hasn’t done either of those things. Solid straw man.

      1. Thanks, Irish.

      2. Exactly.

        1. Are you brain damaged?

          1. I’d say drive-by troll. New handle. Limited, cartoonish knowledge of actual libertarian thought. Projection.

          2. So there is anything at all that you think should be done to prevent what is happening in Russia?
            All you care about is to protect the poor Russians from the evil gays and their boycott. If you don’t care for gay teen or are in favor of anti-gay laws its’s fine with me. I just don’t get why you libertarians have to be such pussies about it.

            1. I think you’ve managed to miss the entire point of this conversation. If someone chooses to not spend their money on Russian companies over the issue of Russia being particularly bad on gay rights, then that’s fine, but going after Stoli is pointless because Russian Stoli and export Stoli (a Latvian, not Russian company) are two totally different companies and export Stoli is at face value pro-gay.

              Nobody has expressed the sentiment that Russia giving legal cover to the violent suppression of gays is a good thing, there’s disagreement over whether or not this action is pointless (or worse, harmful).

              1. Come on! Be honest. It’s never fine. It’s not fine with Stoli, it’s not fine with Ender’s Game, it wouldn’t even be fine Gazprom.

                1. I take it you haven’t read anything else I’ve posted in this thread, or you’re being deliberately foolish.

                  Parable time: John Doe raped my sister and killed my mother. A totally different John Doe is a peaceful man who spends a lot of time engaging in habitat for humanity. I flip open the phone book and find John Doe’s address. I hunt him down and shoot peaceful John Doe in the back of the head, ’cause, ya know they have the same name. This has zero effect on rapist John Doe. Is that “fine”?

                  1. Actually “Stoli’s production process involves both Russia and Latvia.” And Latvia is almost as bad as Russia when it comes to gay rights.

                    That’s not my point, though. My problem here is that libertarians care more about stopping the boycott then stopping the violence against gay people, but as I said, that’s your choice and I’m fine with it.

                    1. My problem here is that libertarians care more about stopping the boycott then stopping the violence against gay people, but as I said, that’s your choice and I’m fine with it.

                      That’s not really a fair assessment of what’s happening here. Some libertarians think the boycott is pointless or wrongheaded and have made those arguments. No libertarian has done anything to stop a boycott other than argue against it. Implying that all libertarians believe something is just as obnoxious as when some conservatives claim that the gay rights movement is monolithic.

                      You still seem to be stuck on the idea that doing something, even if it’s counter-productive is beneficial. I honestly don’t believe that Americans consume enough Russian goods for us to have leverage over Russian politics. Particularly since Putin is such a bastard that he’d rather see Russian children rot in orphanages than be adopted out to gay couples or countries that allow gay marriage.

            2. All you care about is to protect the poor Russians from the evil gays and their boycott.

              Uh, no. That may certainly be true for some people here, but not all of us. There is a plurality here (possibly a majority) who are very pro gay; though in a libertarian way. I have been on this board for years advocating for gay rights. I’ve been out since the late seventies and have paid my dues in the movement.

              So there is anything at all that you think should be done to prevent what is happening in Russia?

              The whole point of this discussion is to examine whether there is anything that US citizens can do to to harm the government of Russia without harming actual allies like Mr. Scheffler.

              If you don’t care for gay teen or are in favor of anti-gay laws its’s fine with me.

              I just don’t get why you libertarians have to be such pussies about it.

              Remember what I said above about your having a limited, cartoonish knowledge of actual libertarian thought? Libertarians aren’t big on acting for the sake of action. Sometimes, when the only thing you can do has just as many negative consequences as positive ones, not doing anything is the right course of action.

              So far the best suggestion here has been to boycott Russian Standard vodka which is both a fully-russian product, and produced by a company owned by the russian government. Unfortunately, they don’t have much of a market share.

              1. BTW, if you’re a thirtysomething or younger GLBTQ person – you’re welcome. You’re living in the world my activism helped create. Things are a lot better now than when I was growing up.

  11. “Assume you mean at the forthcoming Olympics. Yes, that would nice, BUT: You can’t guarantee that an openly gay athlete will medal (seems numerically likely, but not certain). I assume that such a display would violate IOC rules and the athlete would lose the medal; which is a loss not only for the individual athlete but for his team and country.

    It wouldn’t be the first time a political statement was made from the medal podium e.g. the Mexico City olympics

    1. And I would applaud that athlete, and do whatever I could to support him/her. But that athlete would be ending his/her career. Probably wouldn’t even be able to be a sportscaster.

      The IOC are total assholes, and they have a long reach. Talk about your shadowy, quasi-governmental international orgs!

      1. Luckily most of the Olympic athletes are pros now, so IOC consequences aren’t of too much consideration for them. For example, if an NBA player did that (assuming the U.S. can manage to win a medal in basketball), the consequences to his career would be very small, vis-a-vis the Olympics. And I doubt he would face too much flak from the NBA. Chris Kluwe received wide support for his stance on gay marriage.

        1. Yes, US athletes, and those who do sports where you can actually go pro are safe.

          I was thinking of non-US athletes, particularly those in sports where there isn’t much of an opportunity to go pro.

      2. “But that athlete would be ending his/her career. ”

        I’d be willing to wager a large amount of money that you’re completely wrong about that.

      3. Being from Georgia, I haven’t forgotten former Franco henchman Juan Antonio Samarach.

        1. Knew he was fascist scum, but not aware of a Georgia connection. Do tell.

          1. I refer to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

  12. I think the really stupid thing about boycotting is the assumption that the product you’re avoiding has the worst people making it, either because of something you heard on the news or some sorry logic like “Russia no like gays. Russia make vodka. Me no buy vodka!”

    It’s this combination of extreme naivete and the righteousness of your “conclusion” that is pathetic. You buy a hundreds of things every year and you think those are the most PC choices because of your avoidance of one thing, even though you couldn’t possibly know about every company you do buy from? That’s just punishing companies for having bad PR.

    1. Yes. And setting the precedent that anyone with unpopular views can and should be run out of business.

      1. So you’re aligning yourself with Orson Scott Card’s contention that to show I’m “tolerant” of him having spent money on changing my state’s constitution in a way that harmed my legal status, that I should spend my money to go out and see his movie?

        It’s a bit of a bad example because I don’t go watch many movies, so I probably wouldn’t have caught it in theaters anyway, but I’m not going to run out and buy a ticket to prove to Card that it’s OK he was an asshole in the past.

        1. So you’re aligning yourself with Orson Scott Card’s contention that to show I’m “tolerant” of him having spent money on changing my state’s constitution in a way that harmed my legal status, that I should spend my money to go out and see his movie?

          No. I am saying you should go to his movie based on whether you want to see it or not. You shouldn’t refuse to see a movie that you otherwise would want to pay to see because of Card’s politics. So what if he spent money that you think would hurt you. Does that mean his art should no longer be seen? That no one should ever pay for one of his books again?

          I say it doesn’t. That the value of his books or movies have nothing to do with his politics. If you find value in reading them or seeing them, it is irrational for you not to take that value because of his politics. The only rational reason you would not do so is because you want to use your economic power to shut him up.

          1. Do you go out and see every Roman Polanski movie? I mean his art is separate from him raping a 13-year-old, right?

            And you clearly have no problem with putting out of business a restaurant that won’t serve blacks, but what if their food is just really good?

            They can implement it Floridian. I am just okay with no one going there and thus it being impossible to operate.

            GOD DAMN JOHN, think about a world where people who hate blacks enough to exclude them from their restaurant wouldn’t be able to operate. WHY MUST YOU CRUSH THEIR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION!?

            1. Do you go out and see every Roman Polanski movie? I mean his art is separate from him raping a 13-year-old, right?

              Well, am I willing to say that people who rape 13 year old girls should not be making movies? Probably so.

              And by not going to the segregated cafeteria, I am most certainly saying someone who does that does not deserve to be in business or commerce. That is the statement I am making.

              And in both of those cases, I am okay with that, although I see the arguments for why it is not okay. Both of those cases involve actual actions not just views. And both of them involve things so vile, that I am okay with saying such people have no right to be in commerce.

              But, I think as Hazel points out below, there is a big difference between action and views. i would never boycott a business over the views of the owner. If my dry cleaner believes in Sharia law, it is a free country. I think that is wrong. But who am I to punish him for it?

              That is called being tolerant. Tolerance doesn’t just mean not calling the cops on someone. It means doing business and living with someone even though they hold views you find appalling. Sadly, a lot of Libertarians don’t get that and really are not very tolerant or open minded people. They think not wanting there to be a law makes them tolerant. It really doesn’t.

              1. John, most of my family is fundamentalist Christian, and all of them voted in favor prop 8. Many of my coworkers did too. They are absolutely free to have done so and I’ve tried to persuade them through conversation that it was the wrong pick, but overall it doesn’t harm my relationship with them.

                Card invested his time and energy into an organization that blanketed my state with misleading ads to help drive people to the polls to pass prop 8. I see him as having engaged in “action” against my well being. I realize that you don’t see it this way, but you have to accept that I do and while I can tolerate differing points of view on the topic, I am free to NOT FUND THEM.

                1. Card invested his time and energy into an organization that blanketed my state with misleading ads to help drive people to the polls to pass prop 8. I see him as having engaged in “action” against my well being. I realize that you don’t see it this way, but you have to accept that I do and while I can tolerate differing points of view on the topic, I am free to NOT FUND THEM.

                  Okay. But you don’t get a pass for just saying, it is just me doing it. If it is the right thing for you to do, then it should also be the right thing for everyone to do. And if it is the right thing for everyone to do, then you think it is right for Card to lose his ability to sell books and make movies as a result of these actions. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t be boycotting. If you do, you should be asking yourself why those actions are so bad that it should deprive Card of the ability to be a professional author or for his art to be publicly viewed.

                  1. If it is the right thing for you to do, then it should also be the right thing for everyone to do.

                    Why would I want that much homogeneity in the world? I dislike spending my money on someone who spends it on screwing me over. Shoot I encourage my family to vote for the Constitution Party. I don’t like their politics but I think it lines up with their beliefs more than the GOP does. I have no problem with people coming to what they value and what they find unimportant from different perspectives.

                    The fact that you assume there must be some universal right and wrong when it comes to spending money on a movie is rather telling though.

                    1. Why would I want that much homogeneity in the world? I dislike spending my money on someone who spends it on screwing me over.

                      Is it right for you not to buy the ticket based on politics or not? If it is right for you not to, then it is right for everyone else not to as well. Suppose the world came to an epiphany tomorrow and said “we will never buy anything from Card again”. They would all be doing the right thing wouldn’t they? And if the result of that would be Card no longer being able to publish. If your views and action are wrong when done by everyone, they are wrong when you do them. And if they are right when you do it, they are just as right when everyone does them.

                    2. You’re projecting fascism onto this scenario.

                      If the world woke up one day and said “my skin feels cleaner when I use Dove bath bar” then Ivory would go out of business. Fortunately for other soap manufacturers tastes and preferences vary. If Dove caused everyone to break out in a horrible rash would you demand that people still purchase it?

                      I’m more afraid of a world where everything thinks in lockstep than I am of individuals choosing whether or not to consume a product base on whatever whim they so choose. And I reject your premise that the correct decision for one person is the correct decision for all people.

                    3. The problem is not preferences themselves. it is basing your commerce choices on politics. If everyone does that, we will have a very intolerant and unfree society. Can’t you see that? If politics are a litmus test for business, then unpopular politics will drive people out of business. And that is not tolerance and not freedom.

                    4. I can see that if everyone had exactly the same motivation for every economic transaction the world would be a mess. Again, I reject your core premise that there is some kind of Platonic form on which everyone should base each interaction.

            2. I was going to bring up the whole Card/Polanski double standard in a thread just the other day.

              Somehow, all of Orson Scott Card’s books are bad, because he’s a homophobe and a Mormon and other terrible things. But when it comes to Roman Polanski, he gets an Academy Award by satellite TV, because his art is separate from his unfortaunte habit of raping little girls.

              1. Roman Polanski never spent money to make raping thirteen year-old girls legal. Orson Scott Card spent money to make gay-marriage illegal.

                1. Gays have been getting married for decads Audrey. Gay marriage hasn’t been illegal since at least 1985. Legal recognition is not the same as illegality.

                  Some of the things you say. It is just wow. Like really wow.

            3. Don’t any of you understand? In John’s mind, hating gays is a good thing. To do anything that would discourage that would make baby Jesus cry.

              1. You are amazingly stupid Audrey. I mean wow stupid. You really are incapable of understanding an argument or thinking above whatever your issue dejour is. You seem to have no ability to conduct abstract reasoning. How do you feed yourself in that condition?

  13. The thing to understand about boycotts is that you can’t have one set of rules for yourself and another set of rules for everyone else. If you think that it is okay for you not to frequent a business because of the owner’s politics, they you necessarily think that it is okay for everyone to do the same. And in that case, you are okay with that person going out of business because of their political views. If you are unwilling to say that “no one who holds this view, should be allowed to own a business”, they you shouldn’t be boycotting. There is no “well it is okay for me to withhold my money because other people won’t.” No, the point of a boycott is to drive that guy out of business or force him to change his politics.

    1. Is it a good idea for people to boycott based on politics? I say it is a terrible idea and here is why. It means that people who hold unpopular ideas will be unable to work. You guys don’t see that as a problem boycotts are all going your way. Boycotts favor people you like. But that has not always been the case and won’t always be the case. Gays embracing boycotts is more than a bit ironic. Gays were the victims of boycotts fifty years ago. If a business was known to have an openly gay employee, people just wouldn’t shop there in a lot of places. So anyone outed as gay got fired and run out of town. You guys think boycotts are so harmless, lets have another 9-11 and get some real war fever going in this country. See how you like the practice of mixing politics and commerce then. The 5% of the people who stand up and say going to war is a bad idea or this or that new police power is going to end badly will be on the business end of boycotts real quick.

      The point is that the more we mix politics into other areas of life, the less society is. I am not even sure we should boycott a business that refused to serve blacks. My instinct is to say yes. But I am not sure our society is open enough to even embrace that precedent. I am sure if I went over the DU, I could find people who think lots of views should disqualify a person from making a living.

    2. John, I roll out of bed, I work for approximately 8 hours a day and then live the rest of my life. I am disinclined to exchange the product of my labor for some goods if I feel that money will be turned around to harm my interests, or generally will advance interests that I find unsavory. A boycott is just an organized form of people withholding the product of their labor from an entity that they find unsavory, usually with the hope that the entity will make less less unsavory, not to make itself go out of business.

      My friend is really excited to see Ender’s Game, I’m unenthusiastic about it because I’d prefer Card (who poured money into Prop 8 in CA) not receive any of the product of my labor, but I’m perfectly fine with my friend going to enjoy that movie because she’s spending the product of her labor on something she will likely enjoy.

      1. My friend is really excited to see Ender’s Game, I’m unenthusiastic about it because I’d prefer Card (who poured money into Prop 8 in CA) not receive any of the product of my labor,

        Why is it wrong for him to get your money? More importantly, if everyone follows your lead, how do people who hold unpopular views stay in business? Just because you are okay with other people not doing the same, doesn’t make your decision a good one.

        If you think it is okay for you not to frequent Card because you don’t like his politics, then why can’t everyone else do the same? And when they do the same and everyone stops going to businesses with views they don’t like, how do people with unpopular views stay in business? Think about the world you are helping to create. Basically anyone in business is obliged to either shut up and totally stay out of politics or go along with the majority no matter what. How is there supposed to be any sort of dissent in a society like that? How is that society free?

        1. I’m honestly confused by what you’re getting at John. It’s not that I don’t like Card’s politics, it’s that I don’t like the fact that he invested money (gleaned partly from me buying Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead) and considerable energy as a board member for NOM on harming me legally, so I choose not to give him more of my money. I don’t OWE Card any of my money.

          1. No one said you did. But why are not giving him your money? You are not giving him your money because he donated to a cause you don’t like. Okay, what happens when everyone does that? Will any person in business risk giving to any cause? Especially unpopular or controversial ones?

            The guy who refuses to buy from a store that hires a homosexual doesn’t owe that store their money either. But for years that sort of behavior went a very long ways towards ensuring that homosexuals never came out publicly. When you mix politics and commerce, you are allowing politics to be used as an excuse to determine who can and cannot engage in such. And that will end up creating a very unfree society. Go see Card if you like the movie. Don’t make your decision on politics.

          2. Jesse, I just emailed you. Check your spam filter.

            1. I don’t have anything in my inbox or in my spam filter, unless you’re Anastasia M. of hookuptraining(dot)com

              1. Oops, look again. I mistyped your address.

      2. Don’t you understand jesse, queers are icky, icky, icky and should be shot on sight.

  14. My policy on boycotts is they’re okay if the people you are boycotting are actively doing something you find morally wrong, but not if they are merely expressing opinions that you disagree with.
    Boycotts should never be used to restrict speech. They should only be used to pressure people to change behavior. Moreover, they shouldn’t be used against individuals, only large organizations that exert some sort of influence on the rest of society.

    Thus the Chick-Fil-A boycott was wrong because it was against *speech*. Chick-Fil-A has no policy of discrimination against gays.
    The boycott of the one cake decorator was also wrong, because one cake dectorator has no impact beyond his individual preference.

    Boycotting, say, the Boy Scouts of America, until they accept gays is a different story. Boy Scouts of America is a large enough organization that has a lot of cultural influence. And they actively discriminate against gays (until now).

    1. I think that is a better and more thoughtful distinction than the rest of the board seems to have. And it is a view I am inclined to take. But I wonder even about that. If you boycott the Boy Scouts, why is it wrong for say liberals to boycott anyone who practices a religion they don’t like or sells high fat foods or whatever the designated scapegoat is today? You think excluding gays is immoral. What happens when the mob decides hiring them is immoral? Will a boycott be okay then?

      1. I would have to admit that in a society where many people felt that homosexuality was immoral, it would be permissible for people to boycott (say) a religion that ordained gays.

        Of course, that would be a big step up from the whole burning-at-the-stake thing.

        1. But think about where that leads. It leads to a point where anyone who publicly holds a really unpopular opinion gets boycotted out of business. And that is a very bad place.

          1. What? I just said that you can’t boycott people for their opinions.

            1. I would have to admit that in a society where many people felt that homosexuality was immoral, it would be permissible for people to boycott (say) a religion that ordained gays.

              I was talking about that. I guess it depends on what you mean by “boycott”. If you mean not join, sure. But if you mean, try and make sure they didn’t have access to funds or an ability to operate, no.

    2. The BSA is an interesting question. Certainly you would not want to join the BSA because doing so requires taking an oath to support their politics. But what if the BSA came to your door selling cookies. And you liked the cookies and politics aside wanted to buy them. Should you? If not, why not? Is it your opinion that no group that discriminates against gays should be allowed to exist? If you think that, then slam the door in their faces. If you don’t think that, then why are you trying to use economic power to run them out of business?

      1. That’s the difference between what is morally permissible and what is obligatory.

        Boycotts may be permissible, but they are never obligatory.

        You should never boycott someone for not participating in a boycott. YOU may join the boycott, or not, your choice. However, acting in concert with others allows people to coordinate their “speech” that is what makes a boycott more than just a sun of individuals choosing not to buy products. Which is (IMO) why there need to be some rules about when boycotts are morally impermissible. (i.e. using them against speech, or against isolated individuals).

        1. I don’t you should do things as an individual that you are not okay with everyone doing.

          1. If so many other people started boycotting an individual because they didn’t like her opinions, I would probably start patronizing that individual, even if she was a zealously bigoted Christian. Just because I would find it morally repugnant to ostracize an individual for their opinions.

            1. So would I. But you and I are tolerant people. Most people are not tolerant.

  15. I’ll decide where I’ll be a customer. If enough of us happen to agree, then the business goes under. Or it can explicitly cater to the minority that approves of its views on gays, gun owners, black people sitting at its bar stools, Trayvon, the Royal family, Xtians, libertarians, or any other damn thing. Most of us here think nothing wrong with boycotting the Reds and Blues. Yes, we hope enough others agree that either or both go bust, or change their tune in order to stay in politics.

  16. So when 95% of the country decides that Patriot Act 2.0 is the thing to do, you are going to be okay with them boycotting any business that says otherwise or has an employee that says otherwise? You think that a society that did that is in anyway free?

    The question is how tolerant and open minded of a person are you? I would say that if you are unwilling to do business with someone because they hold view that you don’t like, you are a close minded and intolerant fuck. You think people are free to hold whatever views they want. But when it comes right down to it, you are totally okay with punishing them by withholding your commerce from them for holding those views. Why does it matter what a business owner thinks of any issue, provided he gives you good service? It only matters because you can’t stand the idea of him thinking that and you want to make sure he knows it and hopefully force him to change.

    1. So when 95% of the country decides that Patriot Act 2.0 is the thing to do, you are going to be okay with them boycotting any business that says otherwise or has an employee that says otherwise? You think that a society that did that is in anyway free?

      Who are you directing this at?

      I think I already said that boycotts against *speech* are morally impermissible.

      1. Creech. Damn threaded comments. I posted it in the wrong box.

        I wasn’t directing it at you.

  17. Reminds me of when they boycotted Colo. for prohibiting the add’n of gays as a protected class to their anti-discrimination laws, but did not boycott states that still outlawed homosexual activity, period.

  18. John is a god damned fool who couldn’t be less libertarian if he was the fat-ass governor of New Jersey. That said, the boycott of Stoli does seem silly and counter productive.

    1. Audrey, you seem to have like babboon level or maybe even (gasp) cop level intelligence. You really seem incapable of understanding that if one side does something all sides can do that. And that an action can be used against people to. That ethics is about more than just “my side getting what it wants”. Your reasoning is almost feral in that sense.

      Did you ever take a critical thinking class in school? Any math classes or other things that would given you abstract thinking skills?

      In some ways I find your posts scary but kind of fascinating. You seem incapable of separating argument from your own biases and prejudices. Someone disagrees with an action someone you like takes and you immediately assume it must because they hate your side regardless of how many arguments they put up for why the principle is wrong regardless of the result.

      Do you just no understand argument and only see sides? I have never known an adult who showed such a lack of thinking skills. You seem to be able to only feel and emote rather than think. You might want to try thinking sometime. Give a shot. Try understanding that sometimes ethics and principle and rationality dictate that what you are emoting at the time isn’t the right thing to do.

    2. Does Hazal hate homosexuals too? She said basically the same thing I did.

      1. Lol.

  19. Dan Savage et al are perhaps the same kind of idiots who perform for a bloody dictator’s birthday party for a million dollars. They certainly buy the music and give a pass to skanks like Beyonce and J-Lo.

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  21. People seem to be misinformed of just haven’t done the research before commenting on this article. To those who say a boycott doesn’t hurt Russia and that the product isn’t made there but rather in Latvia keep in mind the following. By Stolichnaya’s makers own admission the ingredients used to make the vodka come from Russia which means the government makes money collecting taxes on the export of these ingredients. I agree that the SPI group may not be the heavy in all of this, however until they stop using Russian ingredients then they are to be held accountable. It is unfortunate that there are and will be innocents hurt in the process but that is the price of doing business. Let Russia have Stoli back and make it worthless. SPI could market a new product touting it as a social conscience alternative made with ingredients from a country that does not condemn or suppress its people. How about that as a marketing strategy. For those of you who question why no boycotts of products from other countries with similar laws I say one step at a time. Since this dialog has begun lets start here and more forward. I thank SPI for their support but it’s time to put your money where you mouth is.

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