The official position of Ethics Alarms is that organized boycotts are a form of unethical coercion that pose a direct threat to democracy and personal liberty. Recent developments on the corporate front only reinforce that conviction. Several states have chosen this moment to try to persuade a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to either amend or overturn Roe v. Wade, either with so-called “heartbeat” bills, defining a fetus with a detectable heartbeat distinct from the mother’s as a person within the range of Constitutional protection, or in the case of Alabama, a direct challenge to Roe with a bill outlawing abortion entirely except in special circumstances.
My personal assessment is that these efforts are doomed to fail, and that conservative justices, in part because they advocate conservative jurisprudence, will not accept the invitation to overturn Roe regardless of their objections to the holding. It is a major decision of long-standing asserting an individual right, and the epitome of the kind of decision that requires the practice of stare decisus. I cannot think of another example where the Court eliminated a right after a previous Court had protected it, certainly not one with such wide-ranging social and legal implications. Even though abortion is only ethically defensible by applying the most brutal variety of utilitarian balancing, and requires disingenuous, bootstrapping reasoning in the process, I do not advocate overturning Roe. We have a system, though. The system should be allowed to work. It has generally served us well as a nation and a society.
However, the rise of powerful corporations with increasing power over our economy and our lives is now, not for the first time, showing why so many critics of capitalism view them as a threat to democracy.
Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, threatened Georgia this week, saying that it would be “very difficult” for the company to continue filming in Georgia if the state son executing its new abortion law is carried out. “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.,” he said.
To which the technical reply would be “Bullshit.” If Disney works in Georgia, the vast number of employees involved will work there too. They aren’t going to be in Georgia to have abortions.
Rapidly, two other major media companies suggested that they, too, might boycott filming in Georgia. NBCUniversal said that if the Georgia law was upheld after legal challenges, “it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future.” WarnerMedia, the parent company of HBO, said, “We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine how and where to shoot any given project.”
This is not business. It is a political act, as well as more corporate virtue signalling. A state’s voters should have the unfettered right to elect representatives who pass legislation according to what the state’s citizens believe, and the opinions of out-of-state corporations or their employee OR the various interest groups they are beholden or hostage to should not have any influence in the process, not should ethical corporations seek to use their economic power to dictate policies and laws to the public. Such corporate bullying in alliance with partisan and ideological interests creates a dangerous, anti-democratic force with the potential for almost unlimited abuse. If corporations can seek to punish states based on their duly passed abortion laws, then there is nothing to stop them, other than a fierce public backlash, from dictating the content of other laws, or even directing states who to elect in state and national elections.
States with strong leadership and a sense of how sinister this practice is must prepare serious counter-measures sufficient to discourage such bullying. I would love to see Georgia tell Disney that neither its production nor its broadcasts nor its merchandise is welcome in the state of Georgia as long as it attempts to demand that the state follow its political and social dictates. The tremendous power of corporate entities is only tolerable when there is reason to trust that the companies would not abuse it. The threats against Georgia suggest that such trust is no longer reasonable.
Sources: New York Times, Newsbusters
28 thoughts on “Disney’s Sinister Threat And The Danger Of Partisan Corporate Boycotts To Democracy”
Just wait until the banks weigh in. What if MasterCard says it will not process credit card transactions in Georgia or will cancel the MasterCards of all Georgia state employees or citizens? What happens when Chase says it will no longer loan money to businesses in Georgia or the Governor of New York says he will investigate any company that does business with a Georgia business or individual?
The de facto secession continues.
Killing babies is wrong and Roe is a poor decision.
As someone conceived out of wedlock, I’m glad it was in 1959 instead of 1989.
Abortion is the vile sacrament of the left.
(Order these statements anyway you’d like.)
Though I generally agree with your assessment of these laws, I would love to see Florida pass one.
Are they going to shut down Disney World?
No, Disney is just testing the waters to start bullying outside the spheres of entertainment. They have been relatively successful within the industry at making hive minds, witness the change in a white guy following his conscience in the desert to beating on white guys with an incompetent purple haired general when ‘the Force is female.’ I’m not sure why they are doubling down when things like Lucasfilm toy and movie profits are way down which should be a clue they can’t force everyone to like their stuff. (no pun intended) but the juggernaut MCU conclusion is concealing that truth for now. They have an immense war chest to tilt politics and society to suit their business interests (like infinite copyright to keep the mouse protected) and now are reaching into social areas that have no real relevance to their business.
This is the type of hubris that will be the end of the Mouse… and well deserved for things like this. I never thought it would come to this, but it seems that the problem is the selection and lack of accountability for leaders who are more ‘woke’ than looking out for the company and mass audience public. This virtue signalling in entertainment will become as unwatchable as WW2 and cold war propaganda. Classics are stories less anchored in current affairs that age poorly, and I know there’s many ‘great’ movies during my lifetime I can’t stand now because the story bent for the message, instead of message growing out of situation. Does anyone, can anyone, think “Reefer Madness” is art? Propaganda is not art, and cannot endure. I can’t see why artists can believe theirs will be the exception.
Actually, I thought Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda films did attain the status of art, and did last considered as that (e.g. the Hindenburg coming out of the clouds…). So did some of the Soviet silent films, at least in parts, e.g. the Odessa steps. “Went The Day Well” is pretty good of its sort, too.
I find this play by Disney…. Amazingly unconvincing. The number of locations they shoot film at that have laws much more draconian than anything Georgia has attempted juxtaposed with the vapors they’re experiencing over the heartbeat bill seems…. contrived.
I’m sorry, but you don’t get to shoot movies in Egypt and then blacklist Georgia because of human rights legislation without me calling bullshit.
They have a theme park in CHINA. They film movies in countries that behead gays.
I heard about that. But, force them to face the possibility of shutting down Disneyland/Disney World (c’mon, Florida vs. California), that would be lovely.
It’s convincing. Disney knows it can’t change laws in other countries or bully them, so it doesn’t try.
Not just Disney and abortion…
Salesforce is now telling any retailer who uses their software to not sell AR-15s or similar modern semi-automatic firearms, all fitting the arbitrary definition of an “assault weapon.” If they don’t give up selling AR-15s, Salesforce will yank their license to use their software.
This comes after New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been pressuring banks and other financial institutions to blacklist the NRA. At what point do our purported guardians of democracy at the New York Times and Washington Post stand up against this? Or at CNN?
Where does it stop? Will Fox News be next? Or what about the more fledgling endeavors like One America News or Gateway Pundit or think tanks like the Heritage Foundation or the Gatestone Institute?
Like 2016, the 2020 election may be about whether we really have a constitutional republic or not.
I saw the Salesforce thing, after already being aware of the mafia-like actions by Cuomo, and, of course, we’ve had Citibank and others do similar things, as well as platforms like Facebook and Youtube de-monetize and de-platform firearms-related media or businesses.
Can you imagine if big players tried to similarly hamstring certain of those lawfully exercising the First Amendment, and went after leftist entities like the NY Times or Boston Globe, saying they would no longer process credit card payments for any vendor who carried their products, no longer offer financial or insurance services, etc., etc. We’d hear about it 24/7.
If I recall correctly, certain corporations aided and abetted the fascists in the lead up to WWII.
IBM did lots of work for the NAZIs.
Arizona was boycotted by everything and everyone and his brother until Arizona recognized a Martin Luther King day. A total shakedown. Maybe the issue should be revisited?
Almost got into that. Yes, that was unethical too. “We’re going to extort you into following our choice of holidays.” Nice. I objected to that then, and haven’t changed my opinion.
So be true to your supposed ideology, and close the China park. This would make more of a statement. What this is is corporate bullying; don’t take on Red China, but punish Georgia instead. This makes Disney a virtue-signalling, leftist organization, and ready to use its power for its ideological ends. Disney has always been, for me, the height of non-invasive, creative capitalism: make tons of money because of its creativity, not through extortion or misuse of its employees or product.. Shame on Disney. If they let Red China (and socialist France, for that matter) have Disney facilities, it’s only money and left-leaning ideology. Walt would be turning over in his grave.
PS Evil Mickey seems to fit too well for this discussion.
There is nothing in this action by Disney even approaching a fraction of a possibility of anything resembling an actual conviction. Corporations the size of Disney don’t have the kind of virtue that ISN’T just signaling.
If fetuses could buy overpriced plastic tchotchkes from gift shops, Bob Iger would be outside Planned Parenthood marching with Right to Life.
Isn’t Disney a corporation that caters to…kids? I assume it would be to their benefit for women to have babies since such babies (and their parents) are likely Disney’s future customers.
One would think.
Poor black kids can’t afford a $179 ticket to Disneyland, and if they could, they don’t spend nearly as much on food, hotels, and merchandise as white families on week-long summer vacations from out of state. I’m not even being sarcastic. If the above were not true, this news item would not exist.
And the irony is that those who would support Disney and its cohorts in this practice also probably decry the Citizens United decision.
So it’s dangerous for corporations to use their money to freely express themselves, but it’s not dangerous for corporations to use the threat of lost money to extort changes in laws they don’t like…gotcha.
Warren, Harris, et al, support this action, without any sense of self-examination. They rally behind Disney because Disney supports their agenda, yet these are same fools rallying behind San Antonio for denying a permit to Chik-Fil-A, and Hobby Lobby, and some Christian Baker.
Now, imagine what would happen,if Chik-Fil-A decided to open 100 new restaurants in Georgia because the company supports the abortion law. The howls of outrage would be deafening.
As for Disney, though, it is pure grandstanding. This statute will be declared unconstitutional before the ink is dry on the paper. So, Disney looks virtuous.
No matter what your position on the abortion debate, one thing is clear.
“We can’t possibly keep our stable of underage actors filming without easy access to elective abortions” is not a good look for Disney.
You’re not even off target. I have a close friend whose mother was an actress with a Disney contract. When she told her bosses she was pregnant, they very strongly suggested an abortion. This was in 1980. Imagine knowing that a family-friendly corporation once wanted you dead.
(I’ve joked to him that he should have his picture taken shaking a fist defiantly at Sleeping Beauty’s castle.)
Whew! What a tale! Yikes!
In other words, these heartbeat laws are just pointless virtue signaling.
elaborate further on how this is anti-democratic.
Would it have been so bad for Chik-Fil-A to shut down all of its stores in Massachusetts after the Supreme Judicial Court legalized same-sex marriage?
In other words, these heartbeat laws are just pointless virtue signaling.
Not exactly, because it is a sincere effort to invite the Court to reverse Roe. But neither legislators nor the public get how SCOTUS usually works.
No, but that’s not a boycott. If a business wants to decide that it doesn’t like a business environment, that’s business. and it moves. “Change the law or else we’ll move” is materially different. Amazon didn’t threaten New York when it was preparing to make it harder for them to do business there. It just left.
“It [Roe] is a major decision of long-standing asserting an individual right, and the epitome of the kind of decision that requires the practice of stare decisis. I cannot think of another example where the Court eliminated a right after a previous Court had protected it, certainly not one with such wide-ranging social and legal implications. ”
Dred Scott vs Sandford
What changed in that case? Why could that not happen again here in the present? The nation was aroused by an injustice, and change resulted. Slavery was centuries old in the US by that point. Was it wrong until it wasn’t?
Roe is based upon some pretty shaky legal ground. Leaving an injustice in place for decades does not, should not, confer legitimacy.
Notice that if one changes the subject to gun rights, stare decisis no longer applies, according to the Left.
Fine. Keep challenging my sacred cows, and see if I don’t arrange for you to understand that your ox can be gored too.