Thursday, March 17, 2011

Union Thuggery in Outstate Wisconsin

It’s not just Madison and Milwaukee. From the paper in bucolic Rhinelander, accounts of union thuggery.
In the latest attempt to put pressure on those who don’t agree with them, a pro union protester threatened Friday to put a local restaurant “out of business” because the business owner refused to put a pro-union sign in the business’s window.

Friday members of a group called Americans for Prosperity held a rally Friday at Wolff’s Log Cabin Restaurant in Rhinelander. We learned that someone representing one of the unions was also there to protest against Gov. Walker and the pro-Walker group. We were told, and the owners, Dave and Barb Wolff confirmed this, that when the group went into the building the anti-Walker protesters followed and blocked the parking lot. The owner, Dave, went out and asked them to leave room for customers and that’s when someone came up to he and his wife, Barb, and presented them with a union sign and told them to display it in their window. Dave refused and then they were threatened.

Barb asked if they were being blackmailed and the guy told them, “you can call it what you want, but we’re putting you out of business.”

We had this incident confirmed by four other people who were in attendance at the rally and personally witnessed this incident.

Some of these witnesses also told us that after the anti-Walker protesters left, one of those protesters apologized to Dave and Barb for the comments of the other anti-Walker protester.

We’ve heard and seen the signs that pro-union forces want businesses to display in their window “or else.” The “or else” being as the one protester said Friday “or we’re putting you out of business.” They are attempting this all over the state. Part of that effort is also, what can only be taken as a threat, is for union members to shop only at the businesses that have the pro-union signs and leave those who do not have the signs a little card that says something to the effect that union money was being spent there.

This is just another example, as I have said in an earlier column, where the bullies in this area are used to getting their way and they will use whatever force they can to do so even if it means putting a local couple out of business who were merely using their freedom of speech and who even allowed the anti-Walker protesters to be on the business’s property.
Of course, we want to be clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with using boycotts as a political weapon. Liberals have done it, and conservatives have done it.

But one is allowed to believe that one sort of boycott (say, by the civil rights movement against businesses that discriminated against blacks) was justified, and another (against businesses that have a difference of opinion about Scott Walker’s policies) isn’t.

There are differences of opinion about this, and we are stating ours, in the same way we might say there is a right to free speech, and then condemn some particularly noxious things that some bigot might say.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it, then, that you think conservatives were unjustified in organizing to boycott Dixie Chicks music by putting pressure on radio stations not to play them.

This view certainly didn't come out in your discussions of the Dixie Chicks boycott. In fact, you seemed to suggest that it was all fair play in that case.

By the way, can you please tell what principle you are appealing to in drawing the distinction between boycotts that are justified and those that are not? I realize it's just your opinion, but is it actually grounded in any ethical views. I ask because you seem to be fairly committed to free speech, democracy and the free market. Given that, I am interested in what principle might be grounding your distinction.

5:42 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

By the way, can you please tell what principle you are appealing to in drawing the distinction between boycotts that are justified and those that are not?

Well, go with the example I used in the post. There is nothing "unprincipled" about defending free speech both for Fox News and the Westboro Baptist Church, and then condemning what the Westboro people say.

The latter are idiots for reasons you and I probably agree about. But they have a right to speak.

If you will look at my posts on the Dixie Chicks, I think you will see that I didn't urge a boycott, but wasn’t too unhappy that their obnoxious comments pissed off fans and radio program directors.

Is there a difference between country music fans not buying CDs or concert tickets of the Chicks, and unions threatening the owners of Wolff’s Log Cabin Restaurant?

There are some. The union folks were demanding that Wolff’s Log Cabin put up a sign supporting the union. That is, to support a political position the owners didn’t agree with.

If you are an entertainer, you have to have a persona that a big slice of the public finds pleasing. What you are selling, in other words, is pleasure.

If entertainers becomes obnoxious, they don’t get gigs, and can’t sell CDs.

How’s Michael Richards’ stand-up career doing these days?

Wolff’s Log Cabin Restaurant, however, is only selling food. I buy lots of things from producers who are political liberals.

However, if you like the Chicks, by all means buy their CDs. And if you really think that Wolff’s Log Cabin Restaurant should support the union, don’t eat there.

It’s a free country. That’s your right.

10:43 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Oh, and one additional distinction:

The union people threatened the restaurant owners. Got in their faces and said "we will put you out of business."

People who didn't like the Dixie Chicks just didn't want to buy their CDs or their concert tickets (or hear their music on the radio).

So getting in somebody's face and threatening them is more obnoxious than simply leaving them alone.

I wold certainly dislike anybody who aggressively accosted the Dixie Chicks.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the context of a labor dispute, why isn't this an illegal secondary boycott?

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the outset, I will say that I fully and completely support Governor Walker and ALL of his actions as governor to date. He is the best thing to happen to Wisconsin since "Fightin' Bob" Lafollette set about to ruin the state and the country with his leftist "Progressiveism".

There is a vast difference between a civil and peaceful boycott (like that against the Dixie Chicks) and the violent, threatening actions of the so-called educators of our children and other state employees. These folks are nothing but union thugs who have become so accustomed to getting their way (like the children they are supposed to be teaching) that they believe anything up to and including violence is OK because "that's how democracy works".

Frankly, I am disgusted by the tactics of these union thugs. But, please, keep it up. Just as the Democrat state senators who wanted to "give the people time" to find out what was in the Budget Repair Bill, these union thugs are likewise giving the rest of us the opportunity to see just exactly what state employees are truly about. While the Democrat senators were hiding from their duties in cowardice they DID gave us time to find out just exactly how unjustly highly paid public employees are and the ridiculous, extravagant benefits they receive that NO ONE in the private sector gets. Now we see, too, just how disrespectful, greedy, self-centered and violent these union thugs really are. The skunks have show us just how they smell. The rest of us ain't havin' it, though. You may think you are strong by your numbers but, since you've worked so hard to poison the well of public good will, that you have created many more of us than there are of you.

I work for a large and prestigious company. I am well paid and have good benefits (though far from those of state employees.) I'd like more and better. However, I am satisfied with what I get. At any time that I become unsatisfied I can ask my employer for more and/or better. If they choose not to agree to my request, I can either choose to accept it or begin looking elsewhere for a better offer. That is what I expect from public employees, too. The union thugs might try it. It's how a CIVILIZED SOCIETY works.

Anon2

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anon3 said...

Hold up! The Dixie Chicks in fact received numerous death threats for their statements so saying that it was a peaceful or civil boycott is not necessarily true. (see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2972043.stm)

Now whether people could get "up in their faces" (or "up in their grills" as Margie Phelps was so fond of saying in the oral arguments of the Westboro case)is debatable. I mean, it's much harder to access celebrities than it is some small town restaurant owners, but death threats aren't exactly civil. It wasn't just people not buying tickets.

As for boycotts, well, people have a right not to buy stuff if they don't want to. And they have a right to try and organize like-minded people to cause economic havoc for people and businesses whose positions you don't agree with in an attempt to get them to change their policies. Yes, its coercion, but most actions designed to change behavior are by nature coercive (it seems to me anyway). People use what tools they have. The ocnservatives can organize a boycott against union businesses (not like there are a whole lot to choose from.) Don't buy an American car. Send your kid to a private, non-union school (yeah, I know tuition is prohibitive). Put out your own fires (ok, now I'm just being silly.) But if you really agree with the Wolff's people then eat at their restaurant all the time in a some of support. Make an effort to use M&I bank. Not a fan of LGBT rights or Roe v. Wade? Make sure to shop at Target and eat at Domino's. There are ways to counteract a boycott you don't agree with. It's difficult to say nonviolent coercion is occasionally just, as long as you agree with the moral purpose. It's a tactic as much as anything else is a tactic.

The Tea Partiers shouting down representatives and senators in those town hall "discussions" about health care and showing up with guns at rallies where the President was speaking seems pretty threatening and coercive to me. At least as much as the angry "union thugs" shouting down people at Tosa meetings or in the capitol are threatening and coercive. It's just what people do. It's distasteful, but it is frankly not accurate to say (like Anon2 seems to be doing) that conservatives are peaceful and civilized in stating their views, while liberals are not.

As for people crying about coercive boycotts, well, approaching people and threatening them (like at Wolff's) is hardly civilized, but you can't say that guy represents everyone who supports a boycott or who is against the Walker plan. Just like I'm sure you'll reply that not everyone boycotting the Dixie Chicks sent them death threats. Should they be able to block the entrances and prevent customers from entering? I don't think so--just as anti-choice protesters can't prevent a woman from entering an abortion clinic.

10:55 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

The Dixie Chicks in fact received numerous death threats for their statements so saying that it was a peaceful or civil boycott is not necessarily true.

But I never said anything about that, and I certainly never said any of that was OK.

I did say that when you make yourself obnoxious to your fan base, you can expect not to sell concert tickets, and not to sell CDs.

And when you offend program directors at places like WMIL and WBWI, you may not get any airplay.

I've never said there was anything wrong with boycotts, indeed in my initial post I said people have a right to refuse to buy anywhere they don't want to buy.

Getting in people's faces and trying to intimidate them goes a big step further, however.

10:13 PM  

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