Monday, July 29, 2013

'Boycott Florida' isn't so simple, experts say By Michael Martinez

(CNN) -- Many angry Americans are urging a punishment on Florida in the killing of Trayvon Martin: a boycott.
Musician Stevie Wonder won't perform there. Martin Luther King III is considering deploying the tactic -- often used by his famous father in the civil rights era -- against Florida products like orange juice. Social media activists advance boycott plans even on the state's official tourism page on Facebook.
Their actions seek the repeal of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law, which was at the center of a national debate in the wake of Martin's shooting death. George Zimmerman's lawyers didn't invoke Florida's "stand your ground" law in court, but it was included in the instructions to the jury that acquitted him.
But will a boycott work? And when are they effective?
The win column is spotty for boycotts against controversial state laws, experts say. The matter becomes further complicated by the fact that more than 20 states -- not just Florida -- have such a law.
"For boycott organizers, it's more difficult with a state," said Daniel Diermeier, a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
"Let's say your goal is to change a particular law," he continued. "If you think about a political process, you could have multiple chambers and a governor. The political process is much slower and messier than a corporate decision process."
One example of success -- at least economically, one group says -- is the recent boycott of Arizona for its immigration laws.
Akin to the Florida "stand your ground" law, the Arizona immigration law "triggered a fierce, national public-opinion backlash against the state and led many national organizations and opinion leaders to call for economic boycotts," said a 2010 report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
Arizona lost at least $141 million after groups canceled their conventions there, according to estimates in the 2010 study.
"This report provides a clear window into the potentially catastrophic impacts of pursuing harsh, state-based immigration policies," the center said.

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