I received a direct appeal from a political scientist asking me to boycott the next meeting of the American Political Science Association meeting. Why? Because it will be held in Louisiana, a state that passed a law "defending marriage." That is, the state passed a law to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, not just prohibiting marriage but denying heaps of legal rights. There are a pile of stories that document the harm that such laws cause. I am and have long been against discrimination against gays and lesbians, that these laws are abhorrent--once I got over my high school-induced homophobia. These kinds of laws seem designed to cause pain and suffering, which should never be the purpose of public policy. They are mostly the product of politicians using hate to divide and conquer.
Having said that, will I boycott the APSA? I was not sure when I started writing this blog. I do support boycotts of businesses that discriminate, but am a bit more uncertain about boycotts of cities when policy is made at the state level. Having said that, the list of people who are boycotting are an impressive bunch, including a number of people whose judgment I respect. I started this post leaning one way, but in trying to write this post, I could not really come up with good arguments to go to APSA in Louisiana especially after reading the arguments by the boycotters.
To be clear, this is not really a huge sacrifice on my part. The idea of New Orleans in late August/early September, hot, humid and in the middle of hurricane season, was not very attractive. I will not have any of my own students on the market this fall to promote at APSA so it is not as if I am sacrificing my interests or those of my students. But I do like the big conferences to see old friends, to meet my virtual friends in person, to meet up with co-authors, and see what the latest research looks like.
I hope that things change by 2015 or else I may end up missing the International Studies Association two years in a row (New Orleans and then Atlanta). Oh, by the way, have I ever mentioned that bigotry is damned inconvenient as well as being antithetical to the core beliefs espoused by, well, Jesus if one believes in him?
You are awesome! Thanks for your support. - POLI 244 student
DUDE! The sacrifice is to me, damnit. My APSA just got notably less fun. Personally, I look upon a PS conference as a chance to catch up with old friends, wherever it may be, and maybe catch a little PS. Making political statements is far down my list.
Not convinced by the boycott. I am always troubled by the idea of boycotting a city, country etc. over government policies. Some friends from Europe refused to go to the US in 2003 when the Bush admin. led the Iraq invasion, others refused traveling to Israel for the settlements. I think such boycotts hurt the wrong people and lump government and citizens/countries together. It is better in my view to engage with the issue on the spot. Just out of curiosity. How many US states have such or similar laws in effect and would such boycotts restrict APSA or other conventions to a few states?
"Since 2000, voters in 19 American states have ratified amendments to state constitutions banning recognition of all forms of relationship rights (i.e., marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, reciprocal benefits, etc.) for same-sex couples: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin."
Well, that's good news, Rodger. Here's to hoping for future conferences in Newark and Biloxi.
I live in Biloxi and we don't want all ya damn Yankees down here!
So will you boycott all conferences in Washington DC because the federal govt has passed laws with which you disagree? Sorry, but consensus is unlikely about a social morality in an organization made up of a large and diverse population. Besides which, New Orleans, LA has incredibly rich diversity to celebrate (and party with while avoiding doing anything that really looks like you are attending an academic conference).
The point, if I understand it correctly, is not that the U.S. or states within are continuing the discrimination against gay marriage, but that these states passed legislation to persecute gays, to punish companies that give gay partner benefits, to try to financially harm gay citizens as much as possible, etc. Given that there are thirty-one states that are not attempting through law to persecute gays, suggesting through a boycott to APSA that it might have more attendance if it picked a state whose government is not conducting a war against some of its members (who might be denied emergency medical care or hospital visitation while in a state with such laws,) makes good business sense, as well as being a perfectly ethical stance to take or not to take, as one's feelings and personal circumstances decide.
which of course begs the question of intent to persecute. Has anyone truly ascertained that the intent of every legislator voting in favor of laws defining marriage did so with intent to persecute?
Here are a few reasons to reconsider:
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