Taking Responsibility, Corporate Style

BLOUNT RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS REGARDING AN EVENT SPONSORSHIP IN RHODE ISLAND.

FALL RIVER, MA (AUGUST 11, 2009) – Corporate philanthropy and good citizenship has been part of Blount’s mission since inception. In keeping with that, we have a long track record of donating Blount-brand chowder and other products to all non-profits in our home area that request it for events. These donations of soup are just simple gestures of goodwill and were certainly not intended to be interpreted otherwise. It’s very concerning to us that anyone would think otherwise and as a result, we are reviewing our policy going forward.

Additionally, Blount notified the organizers of the Rhode Island event in question that the company would not be providing a donation, soup or otherwise.

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I repeat: it impossible to construe donations for this event as “simple gestures of goodwill” with no ideological ramifications. If BFF gave donations to EVERY cause that sidled up asking for chowder and products, things would be different, but if they are actively picking and choosing who they donate to, that means they are exercising judgment of some sort and knowingly supporting whatever cause they are sponsoring. Being a sponsor of an event has its obligations and implications, and it’s not like NOM is an organization whose mission is not understood, so the mock surprise and concern on the part of Blount Fine Foods is kind of offensive.

But regardless of what Blount Fine Foods has ended up doing, the person I’m most pissed at is Christopher Plante–the Executive Director at NOM, Rhode Island Chapter. I personally believe Mr. Plante is a douchebag. That may be harsh, because I believe everyone has positive attributes…but when it comes to civil rights, respect of freedoms, and championing for justice and fairness? No. He fails. And he’s deceitful and deluded.

In relation to the Tim Horton’s lack of support after a media backlash, Plante said: “They rescinded the offer today as a direct result of the hubbub in Canada,” in this article. “This is an issue only north of the border.” Oh, my mistake. I thought this was an issue in the United States as well. *eyeroll* I don’t care if the local rep for Tim Horton’s approved supporting the event–the company’s policy states that the company “does not sponsor individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endorsements or traveling sports teams.” Anyway, my biggest beef with him is because he is, like I said, deceitful and deluded and hypocritical. Let’s start looking at the blatant hipocrisy and ridiculousness, in 3 parts.

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PART ONE: THIS ISN’T RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL…except it is.

The celebration will feature food, gospel/worship music, and a chance for couples to renew their wedding vows. It is described (on the event website) thusly: “This is a great opportunity to take a stand for marriage as God ordained it. Our goal is to esteem marriage to its proper place in society and make a statement that Christians in Rhode Island believe strongly in this cherished institution.” *AND YET* Plante says “My concern and my disappointment is that my event has been tainted as religious or political. Neither of those are correct. The event itself was not designed to be political, as a rally would be.” Furthermore, he states that “It’s held by an organization that, whatever you think of our politics, is not religious, we accept folks of all faiths and of no faith.

WHAT?

First of all, because the event isn’t “political as a rally would be” doesn’t mean it’s not political. Having a friendly little barbecue with people who share your beliefs is very different from having a big, advertised, sponsored event that actively seeks to further and celebrate the (VERY POLITICAL) missions of your organization.

Secondly, because you “accept people of all faiths and no faith” doesn’t mean it’s not religious (e.g. a religious/spiritual summit that caters to “everyone,” but is, oh, whaddya know, STILL RELIGIOUS).

And, finally, let’s review the National Organization for Marriage’s mission:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it. NOM works to develop political messaging, build its national grassroots email database of voters, and provide political intelligence and donor infrastructure on the state level, with a focus on developing new strategies for increasing influence in the Northeast and West Coast, where marriage is most under threat.

Nothing further with the witness, Your Honor. Hmph.

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PART TWO: EVERYONE IS WELCOME…except not really.

“We knew full well in opening this event to the public that we were inviting people who might oppose us,” says Plante. “If they choose to come and enjoy the food and beautiful venue, they’re more than welcome. They’re not welcome to come and protest. We’ll expect them to be respectful and treat us with dignity as we would do with them.”‘ Mmm, respect and dignity. I’d love to get some of that from all you NOM people. OH WAIT. You won’t give it to me. 😐

Plante’s main argument against the backlash Tim Horton’s and Blount Fine Foods received was based on the supposed fact that the event was “apolitical and non-religious” and that it was “open to everyone.” While the latter may TECHNICALLY be true, allowing queers to go to an event doesn’t mean they SHOULD go or that they’re HAPPILY INVITED or that they’re even WELCOME. It’s like telling a person of color “oh, hey, you can come to this nifty little KKK gathering.” Honestly. Come on, Plante. You’re not buying it and neither are we.

Plante said that gays and lesbians are welcome to attend the event, and added that if they want to, they may also rise to renew their vows. “If gays and lesbians want to come in with their children, they are more than welcome to come, and make sure they find me, and we’ll have a Coke and sit down and talk.”

What the article neglected to mention was that the queers could stand if they wanted, sure, but that the vows to be taken will be specific to man and woman, to celebrate heterosexual marriage and will not apply to same sex marriages at all. Like I said–allowing someone to attend and event is VERY different than WELCOMING them at it and making them feel comfortable. I’m fine with you having events for your organization (it’s within your right), but just don’t fucking LIE about them.

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PART THREE: THIS IS ALL ABOUT GAY BULLIES…except it’s not

In regards to Plante’s allegations that “This is about the organized approach to squash all private and public comments on marriage” and that Tim Horton’s had been “bullied by a vocal minority” into pulling out of an apolitical celebration that was “open to all,” including same-sex couples. *facepalm* This is not about squashing dialogue! This is about us asking a company to NOT GET INVOLVED AT ALL or at least OWN UP TO what they’re DOING. This is about us saying that, if they take this route of action, there will be consequences.

It’s within our right to boycott a company whose views we do not agree with, and I feel it’s a perfectly viable way to create pressure for change or just demonstrate our allegiances and funnel money to organizations whose values we agree with. It’s NOT okay for a company to support certain movements and not expect a backlash, and it’s COWARDLY for a company to support something and then back out of it because they fear losing money. I’d prefer a company that is open about the beliefs they espouse than one that flip-flops when the water in the pot starts getting hot. I mean, I’d prefer one that stays out of these debacles in general, or at least supports the side(s) that are all for dialogue and equality and fairness, but that may be asking for much.

“It’s stressful, it’s sorrowful, it’s saddening,” Plante said. “The marriage equality folks are making this a boycott threat. That’s sad. It has become our job now to remind Rhode Islanders that this is what’s to come.” Um…what does that last sentence even mean? Is he implying that we’re crazy gay bullies who will boycott everything we don’t agree with? Because, well, that’s probably true (save for the bullies part). It’s NOT true, however, that we’re bullying people into not having a right to express themselves.

Personally, I think this debate about marriage is totally ridiculous and shouldn’t be happening in the first place. An organization like NOM shouldn’t even exist. Why? Because this is not about agreeing with homosexuality or not–this is about EQUALITY and JUSTICE. Kind of like what Voltaire said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t care if you love me or hate me, but GIVE ME THE SAME RIGHTS. As a human being and citizen of this country, I’m entitled to them.

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And now, some ranting:

  • You know what I really FUCKING HATE? When people act victimized to gain sympathy. “Omg, halp, I’m a lil’ intolerant Christian douchebag and my religious rights are being taken away from me! Haaaaalp!” No. Your religious rights are not being taken away. Oh, and if by “religious rights” you mean “right to talk shit about others and advocate for inequality and intolerance and even hatred,” then I really think we need to redefine what “rights” mean. If you had half a brain cell you might realize this, but as long as you’re kissing the ass of the “Gathering Storm” ad and NOM and other organizations like it, you won’t notice. No one is taking your rights away by GRANTING RIGHTS TO OTHERS. This is the whole point of people fighting to allow same-sex couples to marry. One doesn’t even have to agree with homosexuality! One just has to agree with the ideals of equality and choice and freedom and civil rights/liberties.
  • Other things I hate–twisting language to gather sympathy and MANIPULATE THE TRUTH. Oh, I’m “pro-family” and “pro-marriage.” Guess what? Me too! But ohhhh, by pro-family you meant MOM AND DAD AND KIDS family and by pro-marriage you meant OPPOSITE-SEX PARTNER MARRIAGE. Oh, my bad. I thought we were on the same boat, being pro-family and pro-marriage and all, but I guess I was wrong. 😐 (That’s the reason why the pro-choice vs. pro-life labels annoy me a bit, but at least those labels make a little more sense.) That’s why I also think NOM’s name itself is stupid. No, you are not “pro-marriage,” you are pro keeping marriage as a solely male-female institution and keeping the links between specific religions and the state alive and well. You are pro denying same-sex couples the right to marry and get the same rights as opposite-sex couples. You are not pro-marriage; you are pro inequality. Let’s talk straight here (no pun intended) and actually say WHAT WE MEAN.

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