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Shhh! There's a Boycott Going On!

Have you driven Ford crazy lately?


That would be a good question for the nation's business media to ask the American Family Association (AFA), which has been boycotting Ford Motor Company for the past year.


Since March 2006, the AFA and 18 other pro-family organizations have targeted Ford over the company's donations to homosexual political groups and advertisements in homosexual-themed magazines. You'd never know it from media reports.


The Culture and Media Institute's just-published Eye on Culture report, “Media Ignore Ford Boycott” by Colleen Raezler, reviews the events of the past year and the media's peculiar silence on the boycott. Some key facts:


    Ford's sales have fallen in 10 of the last 12 months compared with the year before. Ford reported a loss of $12.7 billion in 2006. More than 700,000 people have signed an on-line petition supporting the boycott. AFA's e-mail list, with updates on the boycott, has grown to more than 3 million. A group representing 75 North Texas Ford dealers sent a letter to Ford in June 2006 asking the company to rethink its aggressive sponsorship of homosexual activism.

With Ford closing plants, laying off employees, hemorrhaging red ink and facing a dealer uprising in Texas, wouldn't you think that business reporters would include at least a mention of the boycott in their coverage of Ford's woes? Alas, no.


It's true that Ford is being hurt by pension obligations, high employee wage and health costs, intensified competition from Toyota and other car makers, and an over-reliance on gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks. But the company's willingness to alienate large numbers of Middle American consumers in order to appease the tiny segment of the population (less than 2 percent) that describes itself as “homosexual” should also be news.


CMI's National Cultural Values Survey found that only 14 percent of Americans believe homosexual behavior is always acceptable.  In contrast, 49 percent of adult Americans say homosexual behavior is always wrong.  46 percent attend church at least several times per month.


Is Ford finally waking up and smelling the coffee?  There is evidence that Ford might quietly be putting the brakes on its blatant promotion of homosexual activism. Ford declined to sponsor the 2007 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, which it had in previous years. In one of the few articles alluding to the boycott, the Detroit News reported on March 10 that a Ford spokeswoman addressed the GLAAD non-sponsorship by noting only that “advertising and sponsorship decisions for all our brands are strictly driven by business considerations.” In 2005, Ford's “business considerations” included offering $1,000 donations to GLAAD with the purchase or lease of a new Jaguar. 


(GLAAD, by the way, reviews all Hollywood movie and TV scripts to ensure only positive portrayals of homosexuality.  GLAAD wants to keep from the public any hint of the many tragic consequences of the homosexual lifestyle, which include a sharply shortened lifespan and higher rates of substance abuse, promiscuity, STDs, domestic violence and depression.)


Before beginning its action, AFA had met with Ford officials in November, 2005 and agreed to cancel a planned boycott after the company agreed to stop placing ads in gay publications. But within two days of meeting with gay rights groups in December, 2005, Ford flipped and announced that it was not only continuing its ads in gay magazines but expanding to include more Ford products. The folks at AFA felt as if they'd been hit by a driver who, after running over them, put it in reverse and backed over them as well.


Still, taking a page from Scripture, in which believers are advised to “be slow to anger,” AFA tried one more time. In January, the group sent a letter to then-Chairman Bill Ford signed by 43 other pro-family organizations, asking Ford to return to a neutral position in the culture wars.  The response was an SUV-sized Bronx cheer.

By March, 2006, AFA President Don Wildmon had had enough, and announced the boycott.


The networks reported the beginning of the boycott, but then hurried from the scene like accident witnesses who don't want to get involved.


The selective reporting might just say something about media priorities, the power of the homosexual lobby, and the media's fear of giving even a little credit to Christian conservatives lest it embolden them.


Better to leave this particular vehicle parked in the shadows, down by the river, where, GLAAD willing, it will be allowed to rust in peace.


Robert Knight is director of the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.