In what is beginning to look like a full-blown ethics train wreck, the Florida Family Association’s attack on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” reality show has claimed its first victim among the show’s defenders: California State Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat. The incident inspired him to out himself as a Constitutionally ignorant bully who can’t be trusted with legislative power. Thanks, Florida Family Association!
This was only after Lowe’s, the lumber, hardware, garden supply chain, outed itself as a sniveling confederacy of unprincipled cowards by caving to the FFA’s boycott threat, a threat motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry and nothing else. Lowe’s pulled its sponsorship of the show, muttering nonsense about how the show was controversial and how such controversies should be left to communities to hash out, which was a non sequitur and offensive, as it suggested that whether or not bigotry is acceptable in America is a valid debate topic, and that Lowe’s has no opinion on the matter. How refreshing it would be if a company like Lowe’s, capitulating to a boycott threat, came right out and said,
“Look, we’re in business, and we sell to bigots and non bigots alike. There are a lot of bigots, too many of them, but they still have a right to live, remodel their homes and have gardens, and we’ll take their money any time. The fact is that we didn’t think sponsoring this harmless program would get their panties in a bunch, but it did, and in this economic climate, no company, at least not this one, can afford to take a principled stand that will lose sales and money. Advertising, after all, is supposed to add to profits, not lose them, and since we are convinced that our sponsorship of “All-American Muslim” is no longer financially defensible from a business perspective, we are pulling the ad. Lowe’s in the lumber and hardware business, not the civil rights business. We’re sorry, but that’s the way it is.”
It’s not the bravest thing to say, but at least it is honest and doesn’t treat the public as if we are idiots. Nevertheless, the outrage expressed by Ted Lieu is idiotic. He says he is considering promoting a boycott of Lowe’s. What? An elected official cannot use his office to promote vindictive economic action against a corporation for exercising its rights, which include the right to spend its money in any way it chooses. If the State Senator wants to get in the economic bullying business, let him start his own doctrinaire, undemocratic group like, say, the Florida Family Foundation. Moreover, what would it prove if Lowe’s caved to Lieu’s proposed boycott? That it is a craven bunch of amoral bean-counters? We already knew that! Would it show that Lowe’s was suddenly a passionate advocate for respecting Americans regardless of race, color or creed? No, because the company would be doing Lieu’s bidding out of coercion, not enlightenment. Lieu apparently never got the “two wrongs don’t make a right” lecture from Mother Lieu. Or the respecting individual choices lecture. Actually, he missed a lot of the ethics lectures—fairness, modesty, autonomy, responsibility, abuse of power.
Yet Lieu’s boycott threat is not only even the trigger for his designation as December’s most incompetent elected official. This is: he told the Associated Press that he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads.
Dear California: Impeach this man. Now.
Never mind Obamacare’s individual mandate and the slippery slope applications that would allow Congress to force us to eat broccoli: Lieu is living proof that there are legislators running free who believe they have the right and the duty to make us contribute money to their causes. Who believe they can pass laws making you—and Lowe’s—apologize for your legal business decisions, foolish or wise. Who believe that their high office gives them the power to use the state to punish you when you do something they don’t like. Ted Lieu is an autocrat, a fascist, and an ignoramus, whose supporters apparently accept these disqualifying traits because they agree with his politics, and thus are sufficiently confident that he won’t try to use the iron fist of the state to control how they think, act, or spend their money.
Lieu and elected officials like him are, I believe, far more dangerous to American values and institutions than radical Islamists, bigots like the Florida Family Foundation, or corporate weenies like Loew’s.