As I’m sure most of you know by now, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed his state’s so-called “Religious Freedom” bill into law, a transparent backlash against the growing tide of marriage equality. It is, bluntly, a “right to discriminate based on my bronze-age superstitions, because Invisible Sky Pixie sez so” law. Here’s a dead give-away — if this law was so God-Bless-America AWESOME, the signing ceremony wouldn’t have been held in private.
Many businesses have come out against this latest overreach from the American Taliban — including GenCon, the largest convention in my industry. Now that the law has been enacted, GenCon has said that it will effect their decision to remain in Indianapolis after their current contract ends in 2020.
I don’t have a contract until 2020. I can decide to stay away from Indiana right now. I was not going to attend GenCon as an exhibitor this year (I no longer have shared space in a booth, and the waiting list for new exhibitors is too long), but I was planning on flying in and having meetings, talk with colleagues, & line up freelance work (both as a freelancer and a publisher). I cannot, in good conscience, do that now.
It’s bad enough that my tax dollars go to support the benighted ignorance of Kansas, the state where I currently reside. But I have more of a choice in where I travel for business. Indiana isn’t getting any money from me.
I know I’m not a big deal. My presence or absence will be noted by few. For me, though, it’s about drawing a line.
I see friends and colleagues struggling with whether or not to attend — and those who are attending say that we shouldn’t penalize GenCon, or the folks in Indianapolis who don’t support this law. That we should attend anyway, and show our support for those people, and maybe engage in protest while we’re there.
I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work. The only way things will change is if we don’t go, and we make it clear why.
For boycotts to have any impact, they need to be stark, immediate, brutal and unflinching — even if it ends up isolating the folks in the state who don’t support the law. The only way this gets overturned is if there’s massive economic damage.
For me, “I’m still going, to offer support/protest” veers just a bit too close to coming up with excuses to keep doing something I like, because I like it. I recognize that tendency within myself, and I’m not comfortable with it. Boycotts are not supposed to be comfortable or easy — otherwise they’d have no meaning. They should be a sacrifice on the part of the boycotter.
My fear is that enough people will end up coming up with reasons WHY they should just go ahead and attend that it will undercut the effectiveness of any boycott attempt, especially given the depressingly large percentage of gamers who have expressed support for this law, or bemoaned that gaming “should stay out of politics.”
You see, they’re ALREADY going.
And if you go, you’re counted with them, regardless of your intentions.
You’re a turnstile number in attendance, money going into the economy, and part of the reason why those that enacted this law will say “see? it was all nothing in the end.” Other states will look at that, and be more likely to press ahead with their own laws, knowing that there will be no real blowback.
I can’t be a part of that. I hope you can’t, either.