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“Recognizing The Human Rights Of All”: Bravo, Bruce: Springsteen’s Stand Against North Carolina Law

When the forces of intolerance and bigotry prevail, as they have lately in Southern states that passed laws institutionalizing discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, it can be tempting to think they are impervious to argument. There is, however, one thing that lawmakers like those in North Carolina do heed – money.

After North Carolina passed a law last month perpetuating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, PayPal canceled its plans to build a large presence in that state, costing North Carolina 400 jobs at the planned office and countless dollars.

Today, Bruce Springsteen, a champion of social justice in his public and personal life, announced that he was canceling a scheduled concert in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday and will refund tickets.

“North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law,” he said in a statement. The law, he explained, “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”

Mr. Springsteen said the law was “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” He noted that some people and groups in North Carolina were fighting to have the law repealed. “This is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters,” Mr. Springsteen said, adding: “Some things are more important than a rock show.”

He said that this was “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band deserve a huge round of applause, as does Charles Barkley, the basketball great, who has urged the National Basketball Association to move its All-Star Game next year away from Charlotte, N.C., unless the law is repealed. The N.B.A. should do that without hesitation.

Remember, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, said he would move the collegiate sports association’s events out of Indiana unless it deleted a similar law, and other business organizations actually did cancel events in Indiana. The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Pence with great fanfare, was later “fixed” in a foolish and ineffective way, but should simply have been repealed.

In South Carolina, the intervention by big companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire helped force the hands of racists in the state government who had resisted removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Mr. Springsteen is taking to heart the adage that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent. What are others who do business in and with North Carolina waiting for?

 

By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Bruce Springsteen, Discrimination, LGBT | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“In A Cellar-Dwelling Outpost”: Rush Limbaugh Demoted To Another Irrelevant, Ratings-Challenged Station In A Major Market

The good news for Rush Limbaugh: One month after being notified he was getting dumped by his Boston talk radio host station, the talker has a new AM home in New England.

The bad news: The station currently boasts a 0.6 rating, trails four non-commercial stations in the market and becomes yet another big-city, cellar-dwelling outpost that Limbaugh is forced to call home.

The station, WKOX, is the type of “bottom-rung” affiliate that Limbaugh was rarely associated with during his halcyon days as the king of talk radio. But those days seem to be dwindling as the Boston fall from grace has previously played out for Limbaugh in places like Los Angeles and Indianapolis. In each instance, Limbaugh exited a prosperous, longtime radio home and was forced to settle for an also-ran outlet with minuscule ratings.

Limbaugh’s ongoing major market woes can be traced to his 2012 on-air meltdown over Sandra Fluke, where he castigated and insulted the graduate student for three days on his program, calling her a “slut” and suggesting she post videos of herself having sex on the Internet. (Fluke’s sin in the eyes of Limbaugh was testifying before Congress in favor of contraception mandates for health care insurance.)

The astonishing Limbaugh monologues sparked an unprecedented advertiser exodus, which means selling his show has become a major lift for the affiliate stations that pay a hefty fee for the right to carry his program. The Wall Street Journal has reported on the millions of dollars in advertising revenue that Limbaugh’s host stations lose because of the talker’s stigma on Madison Avenue.

The still-unfolding repercussions? Some key stations want out of their Limbaugh deals. And when those deals are up, nobody else is stepping forward to ink new contracts with Rush.

Here’s what happened in Boston, and it’s becoming a trend. In May, WRKO announced it wasn’t renewing Limbaugh’s program, which meant the host would have to find a new home on the dial. No problem, right? Hopping around to another affiliate isn’t that unusual in the world of syndicated radio. What was unusual, at least for Limbaugh, was that not one other Boston station moved to pick up his show. Years ago, general managers lined up for the chance to broadcast Limbaugh’s ratings heavyweight show and jumped whenever it became available in the market.

But no more. With ratings issues in recent years and selling the show to advertisers becoming increasingly difficult, stations seem reluctant to pay a steep price for Limbaugh’s program. (But yes, Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premier Radio Networks, still pays the talker $50 million a year.)

In Boston, Limbaugh had to once again be bailed out by his corporate bosses. Formerly known as Clear Channel, iHeartMedia owns the syndication company that produces and sells Limbaugh’s radio show. iHeartMedia owns hundreds of radio stations.

So, with no takers in Boston, iHeartMedia turned to its lowly WKOX station, scrubbed its Spanish language format, and will flip it to “Talk 1430” on June 29, where listeners will hear a hodgepodge of far-right talk mixed Fox Sports Radio programming. “With the lack of options for gaining syndication revenue from another broadcaster, dumping the extraneous 1430 format becomes the only clear option for the company,” noted RadioInsight.

And don’t expect Limbaugh to turn things around for WKOX. His show struggled on WRKO, which boasts a 50,000-watt signal. In contrast, WKOX broadcasts from a tiny 5,000-watt signal, which doesn’t even cover the entire Boston metropolitan area.

Does this demotion sound familiar? The same Limbaugh farewell just played out in the red state of Indiana where the talker was dumped by his AM home of 22 years, WIBC in Indianapolis. After WIBC announced the programming divorce (the station was reportedly having trouble finding advertisers for Rush’s show), no other stations in the market stepped forward to buy Limbaugh’s program, which meant he had to be bailed out by iHeartMedia. The radio giant shoehorned Limbaugh onto its lowly rated all-sports channel in the market. (Current rating: 0.5.)

So why the obsession with finding Limbaugh even a low-rent home in places like Boston and Indianapolis? The answer revolves around clearance. “Rush Limbaugh is heard in every measured radio market in America, and that will continue to be the case in Boston,” Premiere’s Rachel Nelson told the Boston Globe last month. In other words, Limbaugh and his syndicator are determined that his show be heard (or cleared, in industry-speak), in every radio market in America — and especially in major markets — no matter what.

“It looks like Premiere parent iHeart will end up doing the same thing in Boston it’s doing in Indianapolis as a last resort: bringing Rush back in house on a marginal signal just to maintain the clearance,” noted NorthEast Radio Watch this week.

That, obviously, is not a blueprint for long-term success.

In terms of trying to sell the show to national advertisers as well as maintaining the Rush reputation as the most powerful talker on the dial, Limbaugh and Premiere simply cannot have Rush’s show off the air in places like Boston and Indianapolis. So Premiere’s parent company is willing do whatever it takes to make room for Limbaugh, even if it means sticking him on a ratings doormat at the far, far end of the radio dial and surrounding him with sports talk shows.

The question now is how many more cracks in the dam is iHeartMedia going to have to plug as more markets decide they’re not interested in Limbaugh’s program?

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America, June 17, 2015

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Media, Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Change Your Stand, Or Shut Your Mouth”: ‘The Culture War’ — A Battle The GOP Can’t Win

The argument is over and conservatives have lost. Some of them just don’t know it yet.

That’s the takeaway from the remarkable events of last week wherein the states of Indiana and Arkansas executed high-speed U-turns — we’re talking skid marks on the tarmac — on the subject of marriage equality. Legislatures in both states, you will recall, had passed so-called “religious freedom” laws designed to allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. In Indiana, the governor had already signed the bill and was happily dissembling about the discriminatory nature and intent of the new law.

Then reality landed like the Marines at Guadalcanal.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made a fool of himself on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” five times refusing to answer a simple yes or no question about whether the bill would protect a business that refused to serve gay people. Angie’s List, which is headquartered in the state, delayed a planned expansion. NASCAR, the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA, the WNBA, and a host of businesses condemned the law. Conventions pulled out and some states and cities even banned government-funded travel to Indiana.

Down in Arkansas, where similar legislation awaited his signature, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was no doubt watching with interest as Pence was metaphorically shot full of holes. Then he received a tap on the shoulder from a very heavy hand. Walmart, the largest retailer on Earth, born and headquartered in Arkansas, urged a veto, saying the bill “does not reflect the values we proudly uphold.”

Both governors promptly got, ahem, religion. Hutchinson sent the measure back to legislators for revision. Pence signed a measure to “fix” a law whose glories he had spent so much time touting.

And here, a little context might be instructive. Twenty years ago, you recall, we were essentially arguing over the right of gay people to exist. The debate then was over whether they could serve in the military, adopt children, be fired or denied housing because of their sexuality, Ten years ago, public opinion on most of those issues having swung decisively, we were fighting over whether or not they could get married. Ten years later, that point pretty much conceded, we are arguing over who should bake the cake.

The very parameters of the debate have shifted dramatically to the dreaded left. Positions the GOP took proudly just 20 years ago now seem prehistoric and its motivations for doing so, threadbare. This is not about morality, the constitution or faith. It never was.

No, this is about using the law to validate the primal sense of “ick” that still afflicts some heterosexuals at the thought of boys who like boys and girls who like girls. And the solution to their problem is three words long: Get over it.

Or, get left behind. Consider again what happened last week: Put aside NASCAR, the NBA and Angie’s List: Walmart is, for better and for worse, the very embodiment of Middle-American values. To rephrase what Lyndon Johnson said of Walter Cronkite under vastly different circumstances, if you have lost Walmart, you have lost the country.

On gay rights, conservatives just lost Wal-Mart.

The adults on the right (there are some) understand that they are out of step with the mainstream, which is why they’d just as soon call a truce in the so-called “culture wars.” The fanatical, id-driven children on the right (there are far too many) would rather drive the GOP off a cliff than concede. Somebody needs to sit them down and explain that when you have taken an execrable stand and been repudiated for it as decisively as the right has been, you only have two options: Change your stand, or shut your mouth.

At this point, either one will do.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 8, 2015

April 9, 2015 Posted by | Culture Wars, GOP, Religious Freedom Restoration Act | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Freedom To Discriminate”: We’ve Been Here Before; “No Negroes, No Mexicans, No Dogs Allowed”

In 1942, with the United States newly entered into the Second World War, the Lonestar Restaurant Association in Texas printed flyers for its members to paste on their windows that read: “No Negroes, Mexicans or Dogs Allowed.”That iconic and painful reminder of America’s history of discrimination came to mind in recent days as I listened to Indiana Governor Mike Pence struggle through a mind-numbingly contorted defense of his state’s recently enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Law. Let’s be clear that what Gov. Pence singed into law has little to do with religious liberty and a lot to do with the desire to discriminate against entire sectors of our society but especially gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans. We’ve been here before.

In the ’40s and ’50s, as the civil rights movements in Black and Latino communities gathered steam and pushed against the barriers of public and private racism and discrimination, some state governments and businesses responded by claiming that desegregation was an attack on their freedom to choose with whom to share classrooms, bathrooms, restaurants, train stations and the like. In short, they equated their freedom to discriminate with other Americans’ claims to equality. Looking back, we can take great comfort and pride that when faced with this false choice, Americans almost always chose equality.

Yet the battle for equality isn’t over; it never is. This time, the targets of discrimination are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. This time, the discrimination cloaks itself in the mantle of religious liberty and “freedom of conscience.” This time, the forces of discrimination have cast themselves as a persecuted minority, fending off attacks against their most sacred religious values. Nonsense. No law in this country compels a religious person to act against their religious values and ideals. No law compels that churches or mosques celebrate marriages for gays and lesbians. No law compels a rabbi, pastor or imam to give a religious benediction to homosexuality.

What the law does compel, however, is that one not discriminate in business or in government against a person for their appearance, their nationality, their color, their creed, and, yes, their sexual orientation. That’s not an attack against religious liberty; it’s a defense of American values.

For many Latinos across the country, gay and straight, this Indiana law and its companion in Arkansas, are a painful reminder of our own struggle for equality in the United States. When we see what is happening in Indiana and Arkansas and other states across the country, we recognize the discrimination because we have been and are still its targets. We see it today with attempts to pass anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. And because of these historic and ongoing struggles, we cannot be silent in the face of these deeply un-American acts. We will not be silent.

The defenders of discrimination and bigotry may control many statehouses and governor’s mansions in this country, but they’re on the wrong side of history. Americans of good conscience will always rise up in defense of equality. We know. We’ve been here before.

 

By: Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation; The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 3, 2015

April 4, 2015 Posted by | American History, Discrimination, Religious Freedom Restoration Act | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Conscience Of A Corporation”: A Deeply Held Relationship With Five Members Of The Supreme Court

So here is Walmart, insisting that “our core basic belief of respect for the individual” is at odds with an Arkansas bill that would allow religious-based discrimination. And here is Marriott, slamming as “idiocy” similar measures in other states. And somewhere in there is the family-run pizzeria, asserting that Indiana’s new law allows them to deny wedding day pies to people whose choice of spouses they don’t approve of.

These businesses sell Chinese-made consumer goods, hotel rooms, and rounded dough burdened with pepperoni and extra cheese. Since when did they start spouting off about the deeply held convictions guiding their corporate consciences?

You can blame last year’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case for unleashing a herd of ponies that have gone off in quite unpredicted directions. There, in a partisan 5-to-4 ruling straight from Republican fever nests, the court gave certain corporations the right to challenge laws that they claim violate their religious beliefs. In that case, it was about contraception in the health care package.

Let’s pause to consider this new entity — a moneymaking organization no different from a lone human being who feels conscience-bound to live a certain way because of a deeply held relationship with God. Let’s pause, because five members of the Supreme Court would not.

One justice, the irrepressible Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warned of the consequences of giving corporations a soul: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Ginsburg predicted that the court’s “expansive notion of corporate personhood” would invite profit-making companies to start using religion as an excuse to ignore laws they didn’t like. And indeed, states packed with right-wing legislators who see phantom persecution behind every new episode of “Modern Family” have clamored to give companies a spiritual opt-out clause.

So it is in Indiana. State lawmakers were also told to look before taking a big leap into spiritual exemptions for business. In a letter in February, legal scholars warned of corporations’ citing religious justification for “taking the law into their own hands.”

But, lo, look what happened on the way to forcing religion into the marketplace: The corporations — Apple, Nike, Yelp, Gap, PayPal, Big Pharma companies like Eli Lilly and the nine largest companies with headquarters in Indiana — have rebelled. They are saying: No, don’t give us the power to discriminate. We’d rather remain soulless purveyors of product to the widest possible customer base. Which is, I suppose, how capitalism is supposed to work. Bless the free market.

Indiana’s law is “not just pure idiocy from a business perspective,” said Marriott’s president, Arne Sorenson, but “the notion that you can tell businesses somehow that they are free to discriminate against people based on who they are is madness.”

Not March Madness, the culmination of which is what Indiana thought we’d all be celebrating in the Hoosier State this weekend. But political lunacy, of the type that’s been on display ever since the Republican Party hitched itself to the crazies who dominate its media wing.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Walmart, which effectively killed the Arkansas bill a few days ago, remains locked in poverty wage mode, despite its recent boast of raising pay to at least $9 an hour. Apple, and most tech companies now strutting across the moral stage, continues to do business with countries where a person can be executed for being gay.

Their outrage is selective, and calculated: In corporate America, the branding conceit of the moment includes just the right dash of social activism. A little environmental nudge from your cereal, a talk about race from your barista — it’s mostly harmless.

Chick-fil-A learned a lesson in its journey from behind the grease counter and back over gay marriage. After condemning same-sex marriage and becoming a culture-war battleground, the corporate leaders of a company that professes to run on biblical principles now say they will stick with chicken talk. Everyone is welcome.

Good call. Nothing in the secular world keeps Chick-fil-A’s founders from free worship in private. For that matter, nothing in the secular world deprives any business owner of a lawful spiritual pursuit outside of the public square. Their profits will rise or fall because of consumer demand, rather than which side of a biblical exhortation the chicken-eater may be on.

All of this, the free market in tandem with the First Amendment, has worked pretty well in a clamorous democracy such as ours. It’s only when activist judges — thy names are Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts — have tried to broaden the intent of the founders that we’ve gotten into trouble.

In 2010, those five judges created the notion of corporate personhood — giving companies the unfettered right to dominate elections. After all, Exxon is just a citizen like you and me. And in 2014, those five judges gave corporations a soul, a further expansion of business entity as a citizen. Well, they tried to. As the saying goes, a corporation will never truly be a citizen until you can execute one in Texas.

 

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Corporations, Discrimination, Free Markets | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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