Thursday, April 06, 2006

Christianists want to boycott Wal-Mart

I thought this story had finally died out. After all the Bible bigots from the lunatic Right shot their wad when it came to Brokeback Mountain. They fumed and fussed and the film did very well in spite of, or perhaps because of, all this ruckus. I confess that a large reason I went to see this film myself was because escapees from Bedlam were so wacko over it.

But what I didn't consider was what would happen when the film was released on DVD. Now remember that these Christianists (the Jesus worshipping equivalent of Islamists) are not just refusing to see the movie. They don't want anyone to see it and they want to prevent others from seeing it. Now they are going after retail giant Wal-Mart for daring to sell the movie. Now be very clear about it. It is not that the film has explicit sex in it. It doesn't. It is rather tame by modern standards. Of course these are people who think showing an ankle is encouraging fornication. They are the kind upset that the Muslims came up with the idea of the veil first otherwise they would be pushing it.

It is merely that it is about two gay men that upsets these haters. Wal-Mart's response is precisely what a retailer's response ought to be: "We simply offer the latest titles that consumers want." Notice the last part of this: "that consumers want." That is what free enterprise is about. And that is why the Christianists are ultimately at war with free enterprise.

American Family Association spokeman, Rand Sharp, who's middle names must be "not so", said that by selling this film Wal-Mart "is trying to help normalize homosexuality in society.” Of course they only use "normal" to mean the statistical norm. Homosexuality is normal as it is found in all cultures at all times and does not violate the rights of others. The only use of "normal" they can mean is the statistical one. Then they equate "normal" is the statistical sense and then imply that anything not "normal" is now "absnormal" but now they jump categories to mean in the psychological sense. It's a clever bait and switch that allows them to smuggle in their silly little beliefs.

Mr. Sharp (sic) incoherently said of Wal-Mart: "But how many copies are they going to have to sell to recruit the losses of customers who they've offended and will no longer shop at Wal-Mart." What? Maybe in Bible-speak that makes sense. In English it doesn't. What is "recurit the losses"? Now here is my bet. Wal-Mart won't see any change in sales at all. These tactics are merely threats. What does the Bible bigot have to do to boycott Wal-Mart? Well, why did they shop there in the first place? They shopped there because it was the best deal for them considering the options they had available. So to boycott Wal-Mart means that they have to now go to their second-best option.

They have to pay more for their goods. Their costs go up. To illustrate let's assume they spend $1,000 a year at Wal-Mart stocking up on grits and Bibles. They now move down to "Joe's Jesus Respecting Emporium and Revival Center" instead and buy the same goods for 10% more. That means to respect Jesus they have to spend an extra $100 for the same goods. If they are earning $25,000 workin' down at the feed store a $100 is a lot of money. That means their standard of living will drop. One hundred dollars to someone earning $25,000 means a hell of a lot more than the lose of $1000 in sales to a company that is taking in a third of a trillion in sales.

What the fundies count on is that if enough of them do this that it will ultimately hurt Wal-Mart. They hope that maybe 1 million of them of them will each pay $100 more but Wal-Mart loses $100 million in sales (profits would be far less of course). But the problem is that the incentives for the boycotters is to cheat. After all if the kids need shoes the kids need shoes and if you can't afford the prices somewhere else what other option do you have but to cheat on the boycott. The Christianist who ignores the boycott receives immediate rewards each time they buy. And I suspect the savings will be enough to encourage cheating.

I recently wanted to pick up some jeans but gave no thought to Wal-Mart. I did some on-line research as to the best place to buy jeans in my area. I was seeing prices ranging from $25 to $50 a pair. A friend in Europe suggested Wal-Mart. I had to be in the mall where the Wal-Mart was located so I figured I would look. Now I was resigned to paying $25 and up for jeans. I figured I would get two pairs. But instead I found a good brand of jeans at Wal-Mart for $12 a pair. And another brand was $10 a pair. Instead of two pairs I bought five. The boycott bigots might find such savings too hard to resist. And since they usually shop on their own "who would know" if they cheat. I predict that almost all of them will cheat. The boycott is an empty threat and about the only ones who would actually avoid Wal-Mart are the people who don't shop there anyway. Meanwhile I'm feeling a bit better about buying those jeans.


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