Tom Bastek | August 20, 2015 3:00 PM ET
Should Beliefs Affect Where You Travel?
Controversy and drama are part of the American way. Whether it is politics or entertainment, we as a country thrive on it. We form whole organizations around it, joining like-minded citizens in trumpeting our cause, denouncing that which we see as wrong and urging our countrymen around to our point of view.
Recently, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) dropped its 25-year boycott of South Carolina after Governor Haley and the legislature voted to remove the flag from the capitol grounds. After the flag came down, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also dropped its long-standing policy of never holding any tournaments or championships in the state.
But how big of an impact was this boycott by the NAACP and the NCAA really having on the state? If you were a business owner in a tourist area in South Carolina, one of two things happened. Either you weren’t affected by the bans, or you were affected so little that you didn’t speak up to bring that money back into the state 15 years ago.
The same rumblings occur when it comes to same-sex marriage and marijuana tourism. There are actually people I know who will no longer go to Colorado because of the fact that they have passed the recreational marijuana law. And we know how polarizing the same-sex marriage debate is, with some states actually disputing the Supreme Court’s ruling and refusing to issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But again, is the boycott by people who disagree having an effect on the over states' income? I think we would be hearing a lot more about it if it were.
In January 2011, it was reported that Chick-fil-A was co-sponsoring a marriage conference with the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI), a group that has opposed same-sex marriage legislation. In addition, it was also reported that the WinShape foundation, founded by the owners of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy and his wife, would not allow same sex couples to attend their retreats.
This of course set off a national uproar amongst the LGBT community and even saw cities and states ban Chick-fil-A from building newly desired stores. College student bodies lobbied to have the Chick-fil-As on campus shut down or prevented from coming in to begin with.
But life rolls along and Chick-fil-A is still near the top. In fact, they are making more per restaurant than any other fast food company in the country, and three times as much as KFC.
So does it matter if people are boycotting these states or establishments? It does in one way: a lawyer friend of mine was telling me that at least in his office, there would be a certain deductive stigma that goes along with anyone who doesn’t go along with the boycott.
In other words, if he brought in a bag of Chick-fil-A for lunch, his coworkers with would think that since he supports the company and they don’t support same-sex marriage, he does not support gay marriage either. The fear of this deductive stigma will keep my friend from ever getting a Chick-fil-A sandwich again. Or at least until enough water has gone under the bridge.
So is it the same for the state of South Carolina? At first, yes; the state lost more than 40 organizations’ conventions and meetings when the boycott first took hold. Actors, athletes and musicians refused to play in the state and even one Hilton Head hotel lost roughly a million dollars when an African American religious group moved their convention to North Carolina.
But over the last 15 years, the NCAA has made exceptions for tournaments, Serena Williams came back to the state eight years after pulling out of an event because of the flag, and other black organizations have come back to having their meetings within the state. And this year, after 14 years' absence, the Harlem Globetrotters did a tour around South Carolina.
So these boycotts are in fact probably making a difference in the beginning, but eventually lose their steam. So if you are worried about the stigma about vacationing in Washington because you are going to look like a pothead, you may have to wait it out a while.
Plus, the people in the states or businesses themselves are not going to complain that you are there to spend money.
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