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Friday, August 09, 2013

The Stoli Boycott

Much has been made in the press about the recent draconian anti-gay laws passed in Russia. And, true to form, the gay community has reacted in a rather knee jerk way by boycotting Russian Vodka brands, particularly Stolichnaya, or "Stoli" vodka.

In the 1990s, the gay community successfully staged a boycott against the Philip Morris company by refusing to consume Miller Beer and Marlboro cigarettes. That boycott is considered by many to be one of the most successful and effective actions of its kind in history. PM caved and now they slap a rainbow on damned near everything that comes out of their warehouses.

How effective, however, will a boycott be on a vodka brand that is for the most part made in Latvia and not Russia? I contend, not very.

First of all, why is it we always eschew products that contribute to the belief that gays spend most of our time drunk and high and in a cloud of smoke? Why does most of our consumer activism originate in a bar?

The truth is, boycotting Stoli isn't going to affect the financial security of a single Russian, and certainly not  Russian lawmakers headed by their gulag commandant Vladimir Putin. If we are to make an effective protest, we need to attack something that will hit the Russian government in the pocketbook and in their international reputation.

The obvious answer lies not in a barroom but in an athletic stadium. There should be a world wide demand on the International Olympic Committee to immediately cancel the Winter Olympics in Solchi and move them to another location. Calgary, Lillehammer, Tokyo....there are bound to be former Olympic sites that still have all of the infrastructure in place. To yank the games from Russia would hit their government where it hurts and show a rogue like Putin that this isn't Nazi Germany and you can't sew pink triangles on gays and leave them open to discrimination and potential physical harm.

Let's use a little common sense for once and attack a problem at its source instead of just switching vodka brands.

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