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Some thoughts on #BoycottIndiana

So, as you may have heard, Indiana passed its version of a "religion freedom" aka freedom to discriminate against gays bill, and there's lots of backlash, from Salesforce pulling out, to the NCAA and GenCon making noises about doing so, to a Twitter/Facebook campaign led among others by George "Sulu" Takei to boycott the state. There's also opposition to such a boycott, even from the left, particularly among those with ties to Indiana. E.g. http://www.shakesville.com/2015/03/stop.html

She makes what seem like strong arguments. Thing is, they always apply. Geographic (as opposed to specific-corporate) boycotts and their official version, sanctions, are crude tools that can hurt lots of innocent people. That's as true of boycotting apartheid South Africa or divesting from Israel or sanctions on Russia as it is of the sanctions on Iraq or a boycott in this case. McEwan does touch on this: "If you're a person who criticizes sanctions against foreign nations because you understand that they harm the people of the nation more than the government, but then turn around and advocate boycotting states, you're not a progressive—you're a fauxgressive." But what if you do support the apartheid boycott and Putin-sanctions?

An obvious response is "this bill isn't *that* bad". Of course, I'd be a straight person thinking that. But an obvious counter seems to be "no it's not as bad, but it's going in the wrong direction, and we boycott now to keep it from getting worse."

Also, the audience isn't just Indiana, it's any other state thinking about going down the same path. If the Republicans of OtherState see that such laws provoke real backlash from the business community, this may cool their ardor for pandering to their homophobic base.

Me, I don't know. Boycotts *are* a crude tool, but I've never ruled them out before. Mostly it's irrelevant to me, it's not like I buy anything clearly sourced from Indiana.


As a tangent, there's also articles on how 40% of the states already have 'similar' laws. But this is the one that provoked a backlash, including from billion-dollar companies that can afford good legal advice. Is the backlash an arbitrary decision of the zeitgeist, or is this law actually worse in specific ways?

Edit: one difference I hear is that some of those states, like Illinois, have anti-discrimination laws that supersede their "religious freedom" laws. Indiana doesn't and Governor Pence doesn't want one.

Edit 2: "But Adam Talbot, a spokesman with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, stressed that those 20 laws are "dramatically different in their scope and effect."

From elsewhere: "Illinois' RFRA is not like yours. Illinois' RFRA does not feature clauses that allow businesses in the state to treat their personal beliefs as their business' beliefs. Indiana's does.

Illinois has also enacted anti-discrimination protection for GLBT people in the state, making the argument of whether a state business could discriminate according to the owners religious beliefs moot."
"Calling them similar in this way risks being misleading. Indiana is the broadest and most dangerous law of its kind in the country," Talbot said."

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Damien Sullivan

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