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What’s the Difference Between Boycotting and Bullying Again?

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2011

Focus On the Family tried to define the difference in the context over the law firm of King & Spalding’s refusal to take up the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the GOP-led House of Representatives. K&S backed out, citing what they called an “inadequate” vetting process for taking the case in the first place. One likely sticking points with the firm was may have been the blanket gag order imposed on all K&S employees barring all advocacy for DOMA’s legislative repeal, a provision which not only would have infringed upon K&S employees First Amendment rights, but would likely have been illegal in several states in which K&S operates.

Focus On the Family ignores that, and instead latches onto to a bragging press release from the Human Rights Campaign. HRC boasted that they had contacted several of K&S’s clients:

[HRC spokesman Fred] Sainz said his group did not ask any of the firm’s clients to drop the firm in retaliation for taking the case, as is being assumed by conservatives who are alleging an untoward pressure campaign. Rather, he said, his group informed the firm’s clients that taking the case was out of sync with King and Spalding’s commitment to diversity, which it proudly advertises on its Web site.

One of K&S’s clients, Coca-Cola, reportedly nudged K&S pointing out that K&S’s position was contrary to Coca-Cola’s ” long public history of support for equality and diversity.” K&S was also facing a growing backlash among its own employees. Focus on the Family’s Bruce Hausknecht is blind to all that, latching instead onto HRC’s boast as a clear example of “Bullying, Strong-arming, Veiled Threats, etc.”

Threats of what? You may well ask. As far as anyone can tell, the threat would be, at most, the threat of a boycott against either K&S itself, or against its clients. Threatening boycotts, according to Hausknecht, is bullying, even though Focus On the Family has threatened boycotts on any number of occasions — although, to be fair, not nearly as often as the American Family Association. But okay. Threats of boycotts is now bullying. Fine.

Now that K&S has dropped the DOMA case, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s has barred the law firm from handling any business on behalf of the commonwealth. It’s not clear that K&S is actually handling any cases on Virginia’s behalf — Cuccinelli appears uncertain and asks K&S (PDF: 176KB/2 pages) to check their records and submit any final bills accordingly — but K&S definitely will not receive any business from Virginia in the future. Cuccinelli harrumphs with a final sign-off: “For future reference, your firm is not welcome to re-apply for special counsel status at any time as long as I am the Attorney General of Virginia.”

Hausknecht cheers this act of bullying, strong-arming, and not-so-veiled threats as an act worthy of his “straight-talkin’ award.” At least I assume Hausknecht — ever the straight-takin’ guy — considers Cuccinelli’s act as an example of  bullying, strong-arming, and not-so-veiled threats. Because if he doesn’t, then his distinction between boycotting and bullying rests solely on the outcome of the act, and not the action itself. And that would also mean that threatening to with draw business (what he calls “bullying” even though no harm is actually done) is somehow worse than actually withdrawing business from K&S (where economic harm is actually done, but somehow that’s not bullying).

Come to think of it, that kind of twisted thinking does go along way toward explaining Focus On the Family’s consistent opposition to anti-bullying measures in schools. Maybe they only object to the threats, and not to the punches.



enough already
April 29th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t care for Coke – it’s too sweet.
But it’s now on my weekend shopping list, I’ll buy it as my contribution to our spring party, I’ll give it as presents.

There is no logic to the positions of our enemies, they react purely out of hatred. Vile, evil, filled with the desire to make our lives as miserable as possible, they will say and do whatever they can to hurt us as deeply as they can.

Truly, any gay or transgender who voted Republican last year should seriously ask themselves if maybe our civil and human rights aren’t perhaps worth making single-issue priority after all.

David C.
April 29th, 2011 | LINK

This is an interesting confluence of open markets and christofascist ideology. It’s interesting how the Christian Republicans (my name for the GOP these days) are all about virtually unrestrained trade while their socially conservative base squeals because their institutionalized bigotry is being undermined by those same forces. The parallels are manifold, even between gay people and the Democratic party.

Pop some corn and enjoy the side-show.

Timothy (TRiG)
April 30th, 2011 | LINK

Typo report:

towith draw > to withdraw

And there are a fair few other missing spaces.


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