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An Open Letter to Carl Monk:

Professor Bainbridge has written an open letter to AALS Executive Director Carl Monk on the proposed boycott of one of the hotels under contract for the AALS annual meeting in San Diego. It nicely summarizes why the AALS should not — indeed, cannot — acquiesce to the proposed boycott if it is to remain a principled academic association dedicated, among other things, to open academic inquiry, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression. His letter concludes:

it is especially critical that the AALS acknowledge that there is no issue of discrimination here. There is no evidence that the hotel in question discriminates against gays. Instead, this is viewpoint discrimination on the part of a handful of activists who are seeking to hijack the AALS for purposes of holding a boycott intended to punish someone with whose views on a contested issue of public policy they differ. If the AALS caves to the critics, it will have allowed a vocal contingent to hijack a purportedly diverse organization for the ends of a particular point of view that may not be shared by all members of the organization.

Note that I endorse Prof. Bainbridge's sentiments even though I support gay marriage (largely due to the work of my co-blogger Dale Carpenter). I believe that the institution of marriage and its associated blessings should be shared with same-sex couples. But I also believe that it would be unconscionable for a purportedly academic association to endorse the view that opposition to the imposition of gay marriage by judicial fiat, in and of itself, constitutes "discrimination" against homosexuals and that such views are beyond the pale of acceptability within such an organization.

trad and anon:
But I also believe that it would be unconscionable for a purportedly academic association to endorse the view that opposition to the imposition of gay marriage by judicial fiat, in and of itself, constitutes "discrimination" against homosexuals and that such views are beyond the pale of acceptability within such an organization.
That isn't quite what's at issue here though. The proposed amendment that the hotel owner gave funds to support would not merely reverse in re marriage cases: it would write the reverse holding into the California constitution. Supporting that goes well beyond the bounds of what you could get out of having some nuanced opinion about the judicial role or California constitutional law.

I do think the boycott is a bad idea though. If we could only do business with companies whose owners haven't given money any deplorable causes, we'd be shut out of the market system entirely.
8.6.2008 12:08am
Cornellian (mail):
Those look like two entirely different questions to me. One might or might not support a boycott regardless of whether the hotel owner's actions constituted a violation of someone's anti-discrimination policy.
8.6.2008 2:41am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Supporting that goes well beyond the bounds of what you could get out of having some nuanced opinion about the judicial role or California constitutional law.

If the 4-3 opinion had gone the other way, there'd have been an initiative going the other way as well. For some reason, I doubt that that initiative would have been termed "well beyond the bounds".

Some 4-3 opinions are more equal than others.
8.6.2008 3:37am
cls (mail):
It is correct, this amendment has nothing to do with judicial fiat as you call it. It was written and circulated prior to any court decision. Its sole purpose to write discrimination into the state constitution.

The only reason there was even a court ruling on the matter is because the Republican governor forced it there. The state legislature has passed gay marriage two times. Each time he vetoed the matter saying he would not sign any bill on gay marriage until the court ruled on whether it was alright or not. So you had a very unique situation here. The Governator now says that the courts ruled it was fine, then he is fine with it. So we have the legislature approving it twice, the court approving it and the governor approving it. That is more unanimous between the branches of government than most legislation ever sees.

In addition it appears from public polls that voters will approve of gay marriage as well with a majority voting down the Constitutional ban. The No vote has a 9 point lead as of the last poll.

Me, I'd support the boycott. It is one thing if these people were merely expressing an opinion on what role the courts should have in general. It is another thing when they send hundreds of thousands of dollars to write bigotry into the constitution. Boycott is appropriate under those circumstances.
8.6.2008 4:41am
RBG (mail):
I think the commenters here are missing the point of Adler's post: It's not whether a boycott of the hotel owner is or is not justified in general, or whether boycotts, generally speaking, are effective or not. The point is that it would be inappropriate for the AALS, as an academic organization devoted to advancement of legal scholarship (rather than, say, the advancement of any political or legal agenda), to endorse the boycott or to participate in the boycott itself. His point opens up a whole host of interesting issues, none of which are captured by the kneejerk reaction of the preceding commenters: What is the role of non-partisan associations in society? Should organizations adhere closely to their stated mission rather than perhaps distracting from that mission by involving the organization itself in partisan or political debates? Should organizations that claim to be non-political allow for a wide range of belief on issues that are not closely related to the mission of that organization?

This kind of mission creep is, unfortunately, an unavoidable after effect of the left's march through the institutions. The Washington State Bar is talking about considering adopting a resolution that would take a position (can we guess which one?) on the gay-marriage controversy in Washington State. There's some hemming and hawing about whether this is appropriate given the bylaws, which prohibit the organization from taking a stand on issues not related to the practice of law and access to justice, and about whether it's appropriate for a mandatory membership organization to take a position that many of its members find disagreeable, but I'm sure the leadership will sooner or later find some means to get over these objections. Indeed, they've essentially done so with the first, arguing that the ability of gays to marry is a matter of access to [family] court and to the institutions of justice more generally, or something like that. If that's the standard, though, it's hard to see how any left-wing cause does not meet the requirements of the bylaws. (Don't get me wrong: I would find it equally distasteful if the WSBA were discussing taking a position with which I agreed on some other controversial issue. That's just not the role of the organization.)

One other interesting issue that's wrapped up in all this has been hinted at elsewhere (on mirrorofjustice, for example): Are the sections demanding this boycott not-so-subtly suggesting that membership in the AALS itself should not be available for religious law schools or law professors who might oppose gay marriage? If not, why not? If so, how can the organization plausibly cast itself as an academic, rather than as an objectively partisan, organization?
8.6.2008 9:16am
Maybe... (mail):
Does a group boycott organized to support a union organization effort enjoy First Amendment protection? Any other protection? Does Noerr-Pennington apply when the aim is objectively economic? Or does labor organization enjoy a peculiar immmunity of its own I'm not aware of?

Does paying lip service to "homosexual rights" really protect this organization if it calls a group boycott on behalf of a union?
8.6.2008 9:36am
Public_Defender (mail):
If the hotel's owner had given a large check (derived from hotel patrons) to a group that was trying to amend the constitution to ban interracial marriage would you and Bainbridge believe the same thing?

Bainbridge's argument depends on the theory that financially supporting anti-gay causes isn't that big of a deal. It may not be to him, but to many, it's rank bigotry.

Also, the boycott forces a choice--either support it or defy it. Both are political statements.
8.6.2008 10:04am
wm13:
Varying Daniel Davies slightly, good social policies don't usually require state-sponsored coercion and censorship to accomplish their implementation. I would be a lot more open to Prof. Carpenter's arguments if the Cause weren't implemented by such means.
8.6.2008 10:12am
darelf:
Why the focus on the cause? Does it matter what cause it is? The point is, as an supposedly non-partisan academic institution, they shouldn't be having boycotts at all over openly divisive political issues.

It doesn't matter how deplorable you believe the position to be, they should not be taking sides. And yes, even if this man were to support a ban on interracial marriage, or pro-bestiality, or whatever other outrageous stance we can pretend that he has taken. The principle still stands.
8.6.2008 10:20am
Muskrat (mail):
Assume the guy's views are bigoted -- doesn't he have a right to be wrong? Doesn't he have the right to advocate for his views through speech and participation in the political process? Even aside from the point about academic freedom, do people really want to spend their lives scrutinizing the landscape looking for people whose views they disagree with so they can be boycotted? Are persons in favor of the boycott going to start demanding that the political views of the manufacturers and participants in the distribution chain start being placed on the labels of products, next to the nutrition information?

"This product was manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts; Ingredients #s 1, 5, 6, and 9 were produced on farms whose owners donated to GOP candidates; the electricity for the plant comes from a high-sulfur coal generating station; Snuffy, the guy who works the bottling machine, is a habitual blasphemer and weekend drunk; it was packed into cartons by a pro-life member of the Teamsters; and the the wholesale distributor was a member of the College Socialists who is now dating a woman half his age. 13% of the people who have come into contact with this product are undocumented workers; 37% are agnostic, 52% Christian, 7% militant atheist, and 4% other; 9% are gay, 8% admit they're gay, 42% own guns, and the stockboy standing to your left is a Ron Paul supporter."

It's going to be a long label.

I can see boycots where the business itself is the issue -- not crossing picket lines, discriminatory practices, etc. But as noted above, there's no evidence of that in this case. I say lighten up. You really think the hotel owner's donations are so terrible? Counter-donate.
8.6.2008 10:27am
Silent Protester (mail):
The big point being missed is that the AALS groups proposing to boycott should have every right to choose not to financially support somebody who is seeking a patently discriminatory addition to the legal landscape. There are all kinds of examples you can come up with that everyone would agree would perfectly acceptable reasons to boycott — imagine if he was promoting a new law to affirmatively write into the Constitution that women are not to be recognized as citizens, or promoting Nazi positions, or anything else you can imagine as highly charged. No problems with a boycott. This isn't that much different, except that a large percentage of people seem to think it's perfectly o.k. to discriminate against gays. Additionally, what about the fact that not boycotting is sending a subtle message of the AALS' support of the position? It may not be true, but it would certainly not be a stretch for anyone to look at the situation and reach that conclusion. Boycotting and not boycotting both result in subtly taking a position and sending a message, academic institute or not.

The AALS isn't impinging on free speech or anything else. He can say and do whatever he wants. But why should the AALS be required to financially support his personal business interests just because it is an "academic" institution? It shouldn't. AALS should be free to choose which hotels and other businesses to support, based on whatever criteria it deems appropriate. I support the boycott attempts.
8.6.2008 10:29am
ejo:
what is the surprise about an academic group going left wing. gay marriage has lost everywhere it has been put in the hands of the people but why would that deter academics. it's not like the free and fair debate of topics has anything to do with the current academy. they are partisan democratic groups, just like the ABA.
8.6.2008 10:40am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> The state legislature has passed gay marriage two times.

And the people of CA passed an initiative banning gay marriage.

If you're going to argue that the CA legislature is a better decision maker, I'll point out that CA's budget is out of whack again. Interestingly enough, spending has increased some 4-50% in the last few years, the deficit is considerably smaller, but they can't find any solution other than more taxes. (It's hard to believe that the majority of things that got funded recently are now essential.)

On the other hand, the population is no great shakes either - they keep electing said legislature. Hmm, that doesn't make the legislature look good either.
8.6.2008 10:45am
Virginian:
Academics are all for free and unfettered speech, as long as it isn't "hate" speech (which they conveniently define as anything spoken by a conservative).
8.6.2008 10:49am
darelf:
Silent Protester,
"There are all kinds of examples you can come up with that everyone would agree would perfectly acceptable reasons to boycott"

No. That's the point. No. Everyone does not agree, no matter what "kinds of examples you can come up with". You are missing the point.

For an individual to boycott, or a political group or organization, absolutely. That's perfectly fine.

But a non-partisan organization that includes members that differ in their views on the very issue at hand? Absolutely not.
8.6.2008 11:51am
Samwise:
It seems every private economic actor can make a decision to buy or not buy goods or services based on any reason related to the the sayings, or political donations of the seller. I don't see why any AALS members would be any different.

Those whom decide or vote to attend can make such a choice, as well as those whom decide not to attend. Just because one supports the hotel owner's right to speak or donate, does not mean you have to buy anything from him. Indeed, some may be motivated to buy things from him because of this donation. If that's the case, than surely some can decide not to buy from him because of this donation.
8.6.2008 11:52am
Tomwarren:
But a non-partisan organization that includes members that differ in their views on the very issue at hand? Absolutely not.

Absolutely? Doesn't AALS have corporate ways of making decisions on what it buys and doesn't buy? Just like any economic actor, it seems it should be able to make such a decision based on what the supplier says or does.
8.6.2008 11:57am
Seamus (mail):

This kind of mission creep is, unfortunately, an unavoidable after effect of the left's march through the institutions. The Washington State Bar is talking about considering adopting a resolution that would take a position (can we guess which one?) on the gay-marriage controversy in Washington State. There's some hemming and hawing about whether this is appropriate given the bylaws, which prohibit the organization from taking a stand on issues not related to the practice of law and access to justice, and about whether it's appropriate for a mandatory membership organization to take a position that many of its members find disagreeable, but I'm sure the leadership will sooner or later find some means to get over these objections. Indeed, they've essentially done so with the first, arguing that the ability of gays to marry is a matter of access to [family] court and to the institutions of justice more generally, or something like that. If that's the standard, though, it's hard to see how any left-wing cause does not meet the requirements of the bylaws. (Don't get me wrong: I would find it equally distasteful if the WSBA were discussing taking a position with which I agreed on some other controversial issue. That's just not the role of the organization.)


Sounds like an illustration of O'Sullivan's law: any organization that is not explicitly a conservative organization will tend, over time, to become an explicitly liberal (he probably means "leftist"--I'm not sure I'd call the AALS's action particularly "liberal") organization.
8.6.2008 12:23pm
trad and anon:
If the 4-3 opinion had gone the other way, there'd have been an initiative going the other way as well. For some reason, I doubt that that initiative would have been termed "well beyond the bounds".
Did you even read what I said? If the decision had gone the other way (finding that the state's restrictions on marriage are constitutional) it would be pretty darn silly to complain that the decision was an "imposition" of the court's views by "judicial fiat," and just as silly to claim that we needed a constitutional amendment mandating gay marriage to reverse that "imposition."

If you're complaining about judicial "fiat" "imposing" something as constitutionally mandatory (or forbidden), that'll justify a constitutional amendment reversing the decision and creating a blank slate on the issue, but not one imposing the reverse holding (that something the court found mandatory is forbidden, or vice versa).
8.6.2008 12:23pm
ejo:
couldn't they hold the meeting at a San Francisco street fair? that would be more reflective of gay culture than the irrelevant push for gay marriage. they could bring their kids and give them an education.
8.6.2008 12:44pm
Eli Rabett (www):
The big point being missed is that the conference is in January after the election. This is a no cost issue.
8.6.2008 1:09pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
imagine if he was promoting a new law to affirmatively write into the Constitution that women are not to be recognized as citizens, or promoting Nazi positions, or anything else you can imagine as highly charged.

But he's not, nor is gay marriage as "highly charged" as those things.

Despite the insistence on your part to the contrary.
8.6.2008 1:40pm
Public_Defender (mail):

But he's not, nor is gay marriage as "highly charged" as those things.


I agree that anti-gay marriage beliefs are not as morally bad as Nazi beliefs, but I think they are as morally bad as anti-miscegenation beliefs.

The problem with the vast majority of anti-boycott arguments is that they assume anti-gay-marriage beliefs are either correct or within the realm of reasonable debate. However, many (including AALS leadership) clearly believe otherwise. So the anti-boycott arguments do nothing to persuade the decision-makers to change their mind.

When I argue in front of a conservative bench, I don't make arguments geared to persuade Earl Warren. I make argument designed to persuade conservatives that my client deserves relief. If conservatives want to persuade the liberals that this boycott is a bad idea, they need to make arguments that deal with the fact that many boycotters hold strong moral beliefs that opposing gay marriage is morally repugnant.

Otherwise, all you are left with is Professor Kerr's point--if you think being anti-gay-marriage is "beyond the pale," then the boycott is morally correct. If you think being anti-gay-marriage is not "beyond the pale," then the boycott is morally wrong.
8.6.2008 1:55pm
Just a thought:
Public Defender,

Regardless of your position on gay marriage, it is a matter of reasonable debate in our society. There are many well-meaning people on both sides of the issue and many well-meaning institutions on both sides of the issue. You should be able to recognize this, even if you think, personally, that anti-gay-marriage is "beyond the pale." Personally, I think that "pro-abortion" is "beyond the pale", but I still recognize that abortion is a subject of debate between well-meaning people and institutions. That is the same with capital punishment, embryonic stem-cell research, etc. These are all subjects open to reasonable debate in our society and thus, aren't "beyond the pale" for society as a whole.

Subjects which are NOT open to reasonable debate include the merits of Nazism, whether Jews died in the death camps, miscegenation, and the merits of slavery. These are subjects which our society does not debate. All reasonable persons and institutions recognize that the debate on these topics is over, that the pro-Nazi, etc. position is "beyond the pale" for society as a whole.

The argument in the post here, as I see it, is that the AALS is an academic institution open to academic inquiry and freedom of thought, with members who hold diverging viewpoints on the topics of "reasonable debate" in our society (eg, gay marriage, abortion, etc.), and that as such, the AALS should not take a position on those subjects of reasonable debate.
8.6.2008 2:18pm
Adam J:
Muskrat - He does have the right to be wrong- but the AALS and any other group or individual have the right to punish him for wrong actions by not associating with him or giving him business.
8.6.2008 2:57pm
NRWO:

Note that I endorse Prof. Bainbridge's sentiments even though I support gay marriage (largely due to the work of my co-blogger Dale Carpenter). I believe that the institution of marriage and its associated blessings should be shared with same-sex couples.


This statement caught me by surprise. I don't recall you voicing your support for gay marriage in previous posts.

I'm curious: Was there anything in particular that Dale said that you found particularly persuasive?
8.6.2008 3:07pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
There's no coercion in a State's recognition or non-recognition of any marriage. Coercion is when you're forced to do something not when you don't get something you ask for.
8.6.2008 3:45pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I think they are as morally bad as anti-miscegenation beliefs.

In other words you believe that Jews who oppose intermarriage are morally bad.

I suppose you also believe that those who oppose homosexual relationships are also morally bad.

Do you believe that those who oppose hang gliding are also morally bad. What about sloth, adultery, gluttony, turning work in late, keeping a disorderly house? Are those who oppose those practices also morally bad? Is there a list somewhere we can consult to avoid immoral behavior?

What's the source of your morality?

The opposition has extensive literature on the topic of sin. It's been well vetted. What about you?
8.6.2008 4:00pm
U.Va. 3L:
I think they are as morally bad as anti-miscegenation beliefs.

In other words you believe that Jews who oppose intermarriage are morally bad.


Judaism's a race, not a religion? I must have woken up in bizarro world this morning.
8.6.2008 4:34pm
JosephSlater (mail):
U.Va.3L makes a good point. Further, though, as a Jew, I disapprove of those Jews who disapprove of intermarriage, and I sure as hell wouldn't stay in a hotel owned by somebody who was giving money and other forms of support to a constitutional amendment that would forbid Jews to marry non-Jews.
8.6.2008 4:54pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Just a thought,

"Well-meaning people" opposed miscegenation, too. "I'm not a racist, but. . . ." Why do you think opposing interracial marriage (often based on religious beliefs) is morally less bad than opposing same sex marriage (often based on religious beliefs)?
8.6.2008 5:08pm
Muskrat (mail):
Mr. Slater, how many hotels have you stayed at in the last year? How many of them did you research beforehand to ascertain the owner's political beliefs and contributions? As Adam J noted, people obviously have the right to spend or not spend their money as they choose, but my point was that it's not very consistent to talk about what your criteria are going to be for spending your personal or institutional cash unless you consistently investigate the views of every hotelier, car salesman, realtor, caterer, accountant, etc. that you intend to patronize.

Boycotting only those businesses that happen to pop up on your radar means you're not boycotting people who hold unacceptable views -- you're boycotting people who hold unacceptable views and who have the bad luck to get noticed.

Of course, nobody's going to vet their day-care providers to see what views they hold. It would be exhausting. So choosing to make a fuss when somebody says "hey, did you know the owner of Domino's is a pro-lifer?" -- without then checking out the contribution history of Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, etc. is a lazy and objectively nonserious way of telling yourself you're making a difference.
8.6.2008 5:37pm
Adam J:
Muskrat- "my point was that it's not very consistent to talk about what your criteria are going to be for spending your personal or institutional cash unless you consistently investigate the views of every hotelier, car salesman, realtor, caterer, accountant, etc. that you intend to patronize"
What's inconsistent about it? Ever decision I've ever made on how to spend my money has been made on imperfect information, and I'm sure a large number of them would not have been made if I had better information.
8.6.2008 5:47pm
Adam J:
Muskrat - Would it be "inconsistent" to not purchase the services of a "hotelier, car salesman, realtor, caterer, accountant, etc." if you found out they were spending your money on blow? Should we not boycott them simply because they had the "bad luck to get noticed".
8.6.2008 5:51pm
CJColucci:
Boycotting only those businesses that happen to pop up on your radar means you're not boycotting people who hold unacceptable views -- you're boycotting people who hold unacceptable views and who have the bad luck to get noticed.

So?
8.6.2008 5:51pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Boycotting only those businesses that happen to pop up on your radar means you're not boycotting people who hold unacceptable views -- you're boycotting people who hold unacceptable views and who have the bad luck to get noticed.


You could write:


Prosecuting only those criminals that happen to pop up on the cops' radar means you're not prosecuting people who commit crimes--you're prosecuting people who commit crimes and who have the bad luck to get noticed.


Maybe I should try that argument the next time a client confesses.
8.6.2008 5:56pm
Muskrat (mail):
I guess I wouldn't care if my money went to support somebody's drug habit, as long as they were sober and competent when the were on the job. As for the criminal example, I really don't see supporting a proposition that is getting 40%+ support as the moral equivalent of a crime, and in any case crimes tend to get reported and tracked systematically precisely in order to avoid inconsistencies in enforcement (however uneven and unfair the result).

I can see the argument that a conference is such a big decision and has such a financial impact that it ought to be subject to different rules than picking a car salesman, but only if there were a thorough review of the alternatives, some decision on what the disqualifying factors would be (support of anti-immigration propositions? Contribution to certain candidates? Which Candidates/parties? Personal morals? A history of spousal abuse?), and a decision on who to track (Sole proprietors? Majority shareholders? Minority shareholders above a certain threshold? Senior staff?). The resulting proliferation of committee meetings would drive even the most doughty meeting-aholics to distraction.

Life's just too short.
8.6.2008 6:16pm
CJColucci:
Life's just too short.

Sounds like an eminently sensible reason not to make "a thorough review of the alternatives, some decision on what the disqualifying factors would be" and to react, instead, to what happens to pop up on your radar screen.
8.6.2008 6:23pm
Adam J:
Muskrat- How does having a high percentage of the population that opposes gay marriage make it more or less immoral? "crimes tend to get reported and tracked systematically precisely in order to avoid inconsistencies in enforcement"- Seriously?!? As far as I know there's nothing remotely "systematic" about the public's awareness of a person's criminal acts.
8.6.2008 6:56pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
>> If the 4-3 opinion had gone the other way, there'd have been an initiative going the other way as well. For some reason, I doubt that that initiative would have been termed "well beyond the bounds".
>
> Did you even read what I said?

Yes, I did - did you?

> If the decision had gone the other way (finding that the state's restrictions on marriage are constitutional) it would be pretty darn silly to complain that the decision was an "imposition" of the court's views by "judicial fiat,"

The argument would be that the court was wrong and that it should be reined in.

> and just as silly to claim that we needed a constitutional amendment mandating gay marriage to reverse that "imposition."

If the CA supremes had upheld the previous initiative, the initiative to change that result would almost certainly have been a constitutional amendment, repealing the previous initiative and establishing a constitutional right.
8.6.2008 10:33pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Muskrat: I'll answer your question if you'll answer mine. Suppose you were me -- a Jew married to a non-Jew. It then came to your attention that X hotel was giving lots and lots of money and public support to a constitutional amendment to bar Jews from intermarrying. Is it really your position that it would somehow be unreasonable for me to want to avoid that particular hotel, because I won't always have perfect information about every other business that may or may not be doing something else I object to?
8.6.2008 11:20pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Yes, it would seem that if the AALS is an organization that wants to be independent and not take any views on a controversial public issue, then any hotel whose ownership has made a large, public donation to EITHER side of a controversial amendment like Prop 8 in California should be disqualified as a location in which to hold their conference. By holding their event at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, they would as an organization be supporting Doug Manchester's widely reported views on this issue.

Indeed, Manchester made this large donation public inn order to help raise additional funds for the side of this issue he favors and thus sway the election. That is completely within his rights as a citizen.

But AALS should not want to be seen as taking his side on this issue, and should thus move its event to a venue whose ownership has not taken a strong public stand on the issue. Members of the AALS who want to support one side or other of the issue are free to do so with their own funds.
8.7.2008 3:23am
Muskrat (mail):
JosephSlater:

No, I don't think it would be unreasonable of you to want to avoid such a hotel, but I think it would be interesting to ask what percentage of your tab went to the poltical ends of the owner and what percentage went, perhaps through employees via unions, or through contractors, to the other side of the coin. Furthermore, I'm not sure the situations are that similar. For one thing, the amendment you describe would seek to overturn a right that has been exercised for hundreds of years. The California measure seeks to overturn a right that has been exercised for months, after a period of hundreds or thousands of years when it wasn't acknowledged or -- for much of that time -- even taken seriously. Call me an old fogey, but I think there's a difference there --- at least enough to make debate a good thing.

But of course if you're not comfortable staying at the Endogamous Hilton, then don't. On a more basic level, there are obviously a host of things that could upset a person about a particular business -- support of political causes, advertising that seems targeteed at minorities, subtle marketing hints that they're seeking some customers and not others. And if they seem real to you, then by all means exercise your freedom of choice to spend your cash somewhere else.

If you're uncomfortable shopping at a convenience store because you think the owner is charging exploitive prices to the bus-bound community around the store, I'm not saying you have a moral obligation to shop there anyway. It's a free country, and you can do whatever your conscience dictates. I'm just suggesting that maybe some or most of the "I'm not going to spend my money there" arguments aren't terribly well grounded in rigorous analysis, and I think it's not a great use of your time to worry that some fraction of your disposable income is going to cause X when most of your money goes elsewhere. It's like the classic complaint about secondhand smoke in an outdoor cafe next to a busy street. Is the cigarette smoke really worse than the monoxide, diesel exhaust, etc? Or just more noticeable?

If you're making economic decisions based on social goals, I think it would be reasonable to ask what component of that decision is a rigorous analysis of the economic effect of your decision on the larger social goal you care about, and what part is making yourself comfortable with your own choices. I freely admit both are valid reasons to act, but I tend to doubt the efficacy of the former, and have a high personal threshhold for the latter. Maybe I'm just arguing in favor of futility and apathy. Apathetics Uni.... oh, why bother?
8.7.2008 10:49am
KWC (mail):
And Bainbridge's letter has nothing to do with the fact that he is a raging conservative, right?

I wholeheartedly disagree with this post and the "this is an academic institution" rhetoric. The problem lies in the definition of this as a political issue. If you look at this as a human rights or civil liberties issue, you wouldn't have the same opinion.

That is, back during the time when segregation was a hotly contested "political" issue, would the AALS (or some analogous group) not be right in refusing to host a convention at a hotel that openly discriminated against blacks? Or that funded the KKK?

The problem with these posts is that they claim neutrality, but the upset over the AALS boycott has less to do with its propriety than the fact that many of you agree with the ban on gay marriage.
8.7.2008 2:49pm
Jmaie (mail):
I support gay marriage and want to make the moral choice...I live in Seattle...January...35F and rains every day...San Diego, 65F and sunny...

What a dilemma.
8.7.2008 3:25pm
Adam J:
KWC - My sentiments exactly, I've yet to hear a single decent argument how opposing gay marriage is anything other then bigotry. Just because a large minority of the population supports this bigotry and makes it a "political" issue therefore doesn't means a non-partisan academic institution shouldn't feel free to fight bigotry in this way. Would we feel the same way if we found out the AALS had refused to contract with white-only hotels before the civil rights era, when segregation was a "political issue"?
8.7.2008 7:04pm
The General:
Liberal lynch mob want to smear GOP Donors.

The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.


You Democrats must be so damn proud to be associated with this anti-American hate group.
8.8.2008 6:51pm
Randy R. (mail):
"The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives."

Funny, because this sounds exactly like the America that George Bush has built.
8.9.2008 3:32am