Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boycotts, Burning Man and Fernley, Nevada

From a post to the New York Burning Man List:

Here are my posts to date on the topic. The first one was originally posted to this list in full. Johnny Bonta: the Story So Far was an attempt to compile the facts we have to date. The second post was my response to a critic (and likely friend of the assailants) - The Fans Speak Out on Johnny Bonta. I've also been following the Facebook debate about spending money in Fernley and a potential Burner boycott against Fernley.

Boycotts were one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of the Civil Rights movement. (Do a little research on the Montgomery and Alabama boycotts, just for starters). Boycotts have certainly been abused - before someone else Godwins the thread, I'll bring up a certain 20th century political thinker whose followers encouraged people to boycott Jew-owned shops. They definitely cause pain to people who were not directly involved in the attack, maybe even people who are sympathetic to your cause. They can increase resentment and further divisions between communities. But they are also a very effective tool which have goaded many recalcitrant leaders into making unpopular changes.

One poster on this list mentioned his friend who lived in a nearby community but owned a business in Fernley. Because of this, said friend was unable to vote in local elections and hence had no say in what the sheriff's department. The OP sadly underestimates his friend. His friend can support to candidates who work for positive change in Fernley. He can show up at public meetings and explain how this boycott is hurting his business. He has window space for political posters and commercial space that can be used for political meetings. Vote or no vote, he is a powerful force on the ground in the community - and a boycott gives him real incentive to use that power.

You can debate whether or not a boycott is warranted in this instance. You cannot debate that boycotts have changed the course of much of 20th century American history.