Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right When It Comes to the Lowe’s Advertising Controversy

We’ve heard how Lowe’s, after receiving pressure from the (one-man-operation) Florida Family Association, decided to pull its ads from the new show All-American Muslim.  Not cool.

But now Ted Lieu, a California state senator, has threatened Lowe’s with the “encouragement of boycotts” and an examination of potential legislative remedies if Lowe’s does not apologize to Muslims and run its ads on the show. 

That’s not cool either.

It’s great that Lieu called out Lowe’s for being bigoted and ignorant, and that’s well within his rights as an elected official.  But threatening the store with possible legislative action crosses the line.

Eugene Volokh agrees and says that Lowe’s is well within its right to pull ads from the show:

“[T]he claim is that Lowe’s is refusing to advertise on a program that sends a positive message about Islam in America. And that decision not to support a particular ideological message — whether motivated by Lowe’s management’s disagreement with the message, or just a decision that this message is too controversial for Lowe’s to endorse — strikes me as part of Lowe’s First Amendment prerogatives. And of course the analysis would be the same if an [advertiser] wanted not to advertise on a pro-Scientology program, or on a pro-atheism program (think a militantly anti-religious and advertiser-supported version of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit), or on an evangelical Christian broadcasting network. Likewise, some jurisdictions ban discrimination in places of public accommodation, including stores, based on political affiliation; but advertisers have the right to refuse to advertise in pro-Republican or pro-Democrat or pro-Communist or pro-Nazi magazines.”

How do you think Lieu should have responded to this situation?

About katherine

Born in Texas, Katherine is now a lawyer in the northwestern United States.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shelley-Protte/514533638 Shelley Protte

    I think Lowe’s is in a rock and a hard place no matter which way it turns. If it had kept the ads up, those “Christian” peeps would have boycotted them. Now since they pulled the ads, they are being boycotted. What was wrong was that the “Christians” decided to attack an advertiser. Lowe’s happened to be the one attacked, which put them in an impossible scenario. 
    I love Lowe’s, will continue to shop there. I worked there for seven years. Did I see any problems regarding bigotry and ignorance? Yes, but by one manager in the small town I worked in, and it was directed towards me and it was a very small thing anyway, was taken care of to my satisfaction too. Very small, bible-belt town. Haven’t seen any bigotry/ignorance since from management or otherwise. We had all types working at the second store I worked at.  Lowe’s is DEFINITELY inclusive and I respect the company for what they do.
    I seriously think though, that this door has been opened, where “Christians” are gonna attack any and all advertisers, for any ad a business posts on a show that these “Christians” don’t approve of.  It’s gonna get worse for multiple businesses.

    • Christian Demographer

      The radical Florida group does not speak for Christians in America.  Their message is not consistent with Christ or with historical Christianity.  I suspect it’s only the more anxious radicals who might (under the guise “Christian”) agree with their message.  Like KKK types.    

  • Anonymous

    Boycotts of companies the size of Lowes never work economically. Most people want deals, not ideals. What the ire of boycott raises is completely one of PR. It will bring more attention to the other side of the argument. What is the use of being cynical and doing nothing? The issue drops and the other side “wins”. By keeping the issue alive for slightly longer, more people may consider the bigots who bullied Lowes with the aid of Fox News. Silence harbors the status quo.

  • Conspirator

    While Lowe’s is well within its rights to advertise wherever they like, what they’ve done here is reprehensible.  They pulled their advertising because someone who is obviously bigoted threatened them with a boycott, and they gave in in an extremely cowardly manner.  It appears as if they didn’t even bother researching the situation and checking to see if there was a real controversy with the show.  It’s as if they were concerned someone was going to label them pro-Muslim and they took off running.  

    I mean seriously, this guy’s complaint against the show is that it doesn’t provide “balance” by showing the extremists minority of a religion consisting of 1.4 billion people.  If the show focused on Muslims who were trying to enforce Sharia law in the US or something really radical like that, I could see why some people would complain about it.  But so far as I’ve heard, it’s nothing like that.

  • Cutencrunchy

    Lowe’s is not contemplating  ‘a touchy subject let’s avoid it’ this is much more akin to finding out a minority like blacks, women, gay use a product and saying oh let’s stop selling that we don’t want that on our shelves…which is only okay if they do it unilaterally with all their products or advertising as in this case.

  • Blaine Higgy

    All corporations are in a jam when they run ads on ANY show that may become even the least bit controversial.

    However, the way Lowe’s so readily caved in to such an obviously bigoted group as the FFA is pretty shameful on their part.

    That said, Lieu is being just as silly, narrow-minded and wrong as the FFA when he tries to threaten legislation such as what he proposed.

    • Sulris Campbell

      i agree,  lowes deserves harsh social condemnation but not legal action.  we should all join our voices in calling Lowes a JERK, but we have no right to force them not to be jerks.  everyone has the right to act like a complete deuche… and we dont have to be their friends

      • Duggdone

        Who tells you how to spend your money????

  • Bob Becker

    I don’t think anyone questioned the company’s right to pull the ad.  People are questioning whether it ought to have done it.

    And no, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with people who think Lowes has knuckled under to religious bigotry cancelling their Lowe’s accounts [as I am cancelling mine] and moving just a bit down the road to Home Depot.  It won’t force the company to change its mind, but I don’t much want to do business with them after this.   

    Defending the nation against the bacillus of religious bigotry is every citizen’s job.   Even the ones who own and manage Lowes.

  • Lisa

    While Lowe’s is indeed not legally bound to advertise on the show, people are free to boycott Lowe’s because they pulled ads in response to a threatened boycott.

    Most of the other companies that have been mentioned as “pulling” ads from the show simply chose not to place more ads with a show for various reasons that boil down to they didn’t feel it was the best place for their advertising dollars, but Lowe’s seems to have done so at least in part because of the Florida Family Association’s bigotry.

    I would say I’m less likely to visit a Lowe’s any time soon than I was before this incident, but I wasn’t very likely to in the first place as they’re only just coming into Canada and there’s many other competing stores that are much closer.

    There’s a founder of the Home Depot who is linked to the Tea Party, but he’s been retired for several years. On the other hand, it seems people want to boycott them because they’ve sponsored Gay Pride parades and such.

  • EJC

    Seems to me that it is a matter between the advertiser and advertisee. Lieu speaking up and interjecting is asinine and overstepping legal boundaries.

    But, this is all still symptom of the namby-pamby pandering to the islamic community. I swear, if you took some KKK idiot out of the deep south and wrapped the white hat around his face and passed him off as muslim, most everyone would fall over themselves to “accommodate” him.

    Jesus, stop thinking we have to be politically correct for politically correct’s sake. It is idiotic.

    • The Captain

      “politically correct” is a bullshit term used by stupid people to mean “against my own personal opinion”. Just as you have your own version of “political correctness” that you think everyone should follow, so does everyone else. That’s why the term is useless. 
      It can be just as valid to say it was Lowes that was “politicly correct” by dumping it’s advertisement so as to be “politicly correct” for a right wing bigoted nut jobs. 

      • EJC

        Not sure I know where you are going with that Cap’n

      • Anonymous

        “politically correct” is a term used by intelligent people to mean “treat people with respect” that you would accord for yourself.

        I fail to see how displaying a little bit of courtesy and sensitivity to your fellow man is some how a bad thing.   When there is a disagreement or a differing of opinions it isn’t constructive to start out the conversation with insults..eh?

        • The Captain

          You need to go back a re-read the post I was replying to. He used the term “politicly correct” to mean being nice to muslims when they do not deserve it (cording to him that is).

          Also no “politically correct” does not mean “treat people with respect”, that is what it means to YOU. But to many others it mean different things, (such as the right wing meme of “political correctness which means to not be an open bigot) so as you can see that’s why the phrase is bullshit, because it really just means different things to everyone who uses it.

    • http://conuly.livejournal.com/ Uly

      So long as the KKK idiots are acting within the law, I fully support their right to do what they want, even though their beliefs are reprehensible.

      Muslims haven’t recently been in the habit of burning crosses on people’s lawns or lynching others, so really, I’m even more likely to be okay with them!

  • Bentleydw

    I think Lowe’s should be given credit for having originally signed on as a sponsor to the show.  Why is there no criticism for the hundreds of other potential corporate sponsors that shied away from this Muslim show to begin with?  Before switching loyalties to Home Depot you should first ask what shows they are or aren’t sponsoring.

     

    • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

      Nevermind.

  • Ben

    But now Ted Lieu, a California state senator, has threatened Lowe’s with the “encouragement of boycotts” and an examination of potential legislative remedies if Lowe’s does not apologize to Muslims and run its ads on the show.  

    That’s not cool either.

    Encouraging a boycott? Fine. Freedom of speech and all that.
    Looking at it legislatively? Not fine.

  • former marketeer

    Lowe’s just made themselves the corporate poster child for intolerance in America.  Hard for me to believe a large retailer (with a decent marketing budget) would make such a offensive marketing faux pas.  It’s their right to air ads where they wish, but pulling ads on one “potentially controversial” show without pulling ads on all “controversial’ shows was simply a bad decision.  I doubt they have animosity toward Muslims, but they have announced through their actions that they’re more comfortable believing there are no Muslims in America. Legislative retaliation is not called for here, but anyone is free to express himself with his wallet.  My counsel to Lowe’s is:  take a mea culpa, get some education on cultural/religious diversity across your market base, and take out some ads / articles with diversity messaging.  
     

  • Xeon2000

    They got flak from one side for putting the ads up in the first place. They got flak from the other side for pulling the ads down. Now they’re disliked from both sides.

    If I had been them, I’d have given a big F U to the complainers and stuck to my guns. They lost a lot of integrity by caving in to the harpies.

  • Anonymous

    Lieu is well within his rights to encourage boycotts.

    His musings on ‘legislative action’ are probably just that - an attempt to tie his outrage to his role as a state senator that he knows full well will go nowhere.

    My (completely speculative) guess is that the California State Senate has a rule that makes you pay for your own press conferences if they aren’t related to the ‘legislative function’ or somesuch.

  • Brian Macker

    It’s illegal to write a law to target a specific individual or corporation in the first place.


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