Boycotts of Mississippi and North Carolina are 'fundamentally undemocratic,' says (Canadian) scholar


While many Canadians are applauding boycotts by companies like Apple, and artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams, Sauter says it sets a dangerous precedent. She wants everyone to remember that corporations aren’t people, they don’t get a vote, and therefore should not be applauded for attempting to change the law — even if it’s a law you want changed. She explained her arguments to The 180’s Jim Brown.
What’s wrong with corporate boycotts, like the ones we’re seeing in North Carolina right now? **

The problem with corporate boycotts of states that have bigoted or unjust laws, is that they’re fundamentally undemocratic. When you have a corporation that has a great deal of economic power, and it uses that power to intervene directly in the legislative process, it is stepping outside the bounds of what we believe democracy is, which is: that in a democratic society, the basic unit of power is the citizen, and the citizen’s vote.

But if corporations, which don’t have votes, which at least in many interpretations of democracy shouldn’t have speech rights, when those entities are able to exert power over a democratically elected legislature in order to change laws, then that means we’ve now stepped outside the democratic process and are instead dealing with a much more fundamentally oligarchical and neo-liberal system.

Let’s face it: we’re ruled by the Corporations too.


I’m not sure I agree with this. It’s definitely an interesting perspective and I’ll think on it more, but my initial reaction is that in our current society, corporations often function like other institutions that don’t get a vote: churches, non profits, educational institutions, medical associations, etc. The underlying assumption is that people support institutions, and companies, that they agree with. Corporations are motivated (by profit) to use their influence and resources to help their customers out with social or political change. I’m not sure boycotts are fundamentally different from donations, fundraisers, or social-based marketing efforts.

Besides, corporations influence laws to their benefit all the time (international patent and copyright law was essentially written by US CEOs, for example). Why is doing it for the benefit of other groups different?


The Supreme Court decided that corporations have a right to religious freedom, and everyone here thought that was a good idea. I don’t see any reason to deny corporations other rights.


Ultimately, they also violate their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. The owners of Apple want to sell their products to North Carolinians and Mississippians too.

Most churches and all religious non-profits are organized as corporations. Are you saying it would be a good idea for those organizations to surrender their right to follow their religious mission if because they file a piece of paper with the government?


No, I disagree with Molly Sauter’s opinion.

My point is that those who agree with her, yet support the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, are being inconsistent.


Corporations should not interfere with Southern rights. Most of them are not even based in the South. Maybe we should all protest these corporations with the rebel spirit.


How is refusing to do business in a state interfering with their rights. I probably won’t visit either state this year, am I interfering with southern rights.


Bryan Adams went to Dubai I believe not too long before boycotting North Carolina. I presume Bryan Adams knows what happens in the UAE to homosexuals. Why didn’t he boycott Dubai? North Carolina? No he can’t perform there, but Dubai? PayPal does businesses in countries which have the death penalty for homosexuality but withdraws business in North Carolina. Do I need to go on? I find extraordinary what feels like the level of hypocrisy on the level of various businesses or individuals that have withdrawn business.


They are being hostile towards the South.


How are they being hostile? By choosing to take their business elsewhere?


You forget there is a rock star exemption. If a rockstar declines to participatev in an event they are uncomfortable with they are praised .If a florist or Baker does the same they are fined out of existence


That is hostility towards Southern values.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit