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    August 18, 2008

    Manhunt or witch hunt?

    Posted by: Chris

    An interesting comment from a reader about my earlier post on the controversial contribution to John McCain's presidential campaign by Jonathan Crotchley Crutchley, the co-founder and chairman of the gay hook-up site Manhunt:

    Let's see if I understand your point, Chris.

    It's a terrible thing when Americans use their First Amendment rights to protest the actions of others with whom they disagree?

    It's wrong for people to use their freedom of association and the power of their dollar in the American capitalistic system to reward businesses with whose actions they agree and punish those with which they find fault?

    It's wrong for a privately held corporation to determine that the actions of a board member have brought economic harm and reputational damage to the company and to reduce said member's role?

    The First Amendment arguments are in reality just straw men. Simply because people have the guaranteed freedoms of speech and association doesn't make every exercise of those freedoms a good thing.

    Also, despite the Cheneyesque line-blurring by some critics on the blogs, there is no absolutely no accusation that Manhunt/Online Buddies, Inc. itself engaged in any politics whatsoever. This was Jonathan Crutchley using his own money (from whatever source) for his own personal reasons. Another straw man.

    The important point the reader raises is whether the personal politics and monetary contributions of a business executive (or investor/owner) provide a good justification for customer boycotts and executive firings. For executives, I would say absolutely not, unless there is some evidence of effect on the policies/conduct of the business. I don't think we want right-wing groups going on witch hunts for gay and gay-friendly execs at top companies, do we?

    For investor/owners, the issue is more complex and ultimately a judgment call. What percentage of ownership are we talking about? How much of each customer dollar is enriching the anti-gay owner and enabling his donations? Also, how specifically anti-gay are the politics and donations? Is he giving to groups/causes etc with a specific agenda that is anti-gay? Or is his support for the cause/group for other reasons or even despite anti-gay stands?

    Crutchley is clearly not anti-gay, even if he doesn't prioritize gay rights like we would. If you support a Manhunt boycott because of Crotchley's connection to McCain, what about other businesses (gay or otherwise) with top execs (gay or otherwise) who are Republican -- or even Catholic! Lord knows the Catholic church has had a far more profound and pernicious impact on gay lives and in spreading HIV than John McCain and the GOP.

    Even still, there's little question that the effectiveness of this kind of boycott almost always makes it a waste of activist energy. What's more, the (situational) ideological purity that motivates such boycotts is one big reason why political correctness so enrages many of us -- and even turns off moderates (gay and otherwise) to our own cause.



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    1. Kevin on Aug 19, 2008 9:19:48 AM:

      How about if someone started a website in order to publicly brand those with HIV who also use websites like Manhunt (or the other more specialized varieties) without revealing their serostatus in their profiles? And this website put the person's photograph, full name and listed his various profile names on various sites. Would that be witch-hunting? Or would that be some moral stand that any person under the first amendment has the right to do to "protect" the gay community from its own who "stray" from what is "right" and "healthy" and "necessary"?

      I'm not saying I advocate this -- but how would that be any less "morally necessary" than this ridiculous contretemps over Jonathan Crutchley's 'heresy'? I mean, one is about political views, the other is about real life and death. One thing is for sure - there is an awful lot of hypocrisy here. Even Gawker.com sees it, and nails it:


    1. Kevin on Aug 19, 2008 9:39:14 AM:

      p.s. -- In case it was lost on anyone, I advocate neither the attack on Crutchley, nor the proverbial HIV website above. Both are ridiculous.

    1. Gee on Aug 19, 2008 11:10:31 AM:

      But we are not talking about ideological differences here. If it were that simple it would be a different debate.

      We are talking about the truth [sexual orientation is an innate characteristic] v. a lie [sexual orirentaiton is a lifestyle choice].

    1. Gee on Aug 19, 2008 11:14:19 AM:

      What does posting the HIV status of people whose profiles are on Manhunt have to do with morals?

      Just b/c someone who is HIV+ does not specify that in their profile does not mean that they do not disclose that information before sex or even over the phone before meeting someone.

      It would clearly be illegal to post information like that about someone. It would serve no purpose whatsoever but would invade privacy.

    1. Kevin on Aug 19, 2008 11:24:12 AM:


      That's the whole point. Whose standards are the "right" ones when we start calling for mob action against our own based on their "incorrect" views or choices?

      It's all madness, my friend.

      And by the way - it would not be illegal to post someone's HIV status if you know it to be true by personal means, and not through the leaking of medical records. Also, you could just say it even if you don't believe it to be true. How would it be "defamatory"? There is nothing wrong with being HIV-positive.

      See -- if you want to hurt someone for some twisted reason, you can get away with it. It doesn't mean you should. I think it's nuts what is happening to this community.

    1. Hawyer on Aug 19, 2008 2:39:31 PM:


      Since the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeohas equated money with free speech when it comes to campaign contributions - I'll reserve the right to exercise my free speech in spending my hard-earned money.

      This means boycotting - where ever possible - persons, companies, corporations, or any public entity who esposes an anti-gay policy or position, or whose key management or owners go out of their way to espouse support for a candidate or political party whom, in my sole judgment, I believe to be inimical to my equality under public law.

      Over time this has included, among others: Florida Orange Juice (Anita Bryant), any Miller-Coors brand (Joe Coors), any broadcasting station that airs Dr. Laura, AOL (Steve Case), Home Depot (Bernie Marcus).

      AND - by point of face - some of these boycotts have caused reversal or mitigation of anti-gay bias.

      If you're going to run a business, you had better not mix your politics - unless you want to alienate those of opposing views - it's as simple as that.

      And if you want to make your money off a particular demographic - you had better not get caught offending them, politically or otherwise.

      In my mind boycotting ManHunt is fare game - although I wouldn't hold out on it gaining much traction.

    1. Kevin on Aug 19, 2008 7:23:06 PM:


      And exactly what did Jonathan Crutchley do to "go out of his way to espouse support"? From what I read, someone went digging and found a $2300 donation and spread it around the internet.

      Are you seriously comparing Crutchley to Anita Bryant?

      I'm all for anyone's right to boycott whoever they want for whatever reason they want. But for some reason whenever the mob starts forming with torches and pitchforks against a fellow gay person over their political views, even when they are as discreet as Crutchley's were before this, it seems like any sense of reason or self-critique goes out the window and the mob is the only one allowed to speak. And what they say tends to be some of the dumbest, most embarrassing garbage imaginable.

      You're right about a boycott not taking hold. Too bad the other directors of that company showed their extreme immaturity as businessmen. Probably says something about the company's long term future.

    1. Allan on Aug 19, 2008 7:28:50 PM:

      Thanks for spotlighting my comments, Chris.

      You write:

      "The First Amendment arguments are in reality just straw men. Simply because people have the guaranteed freedoms of speech and association doesn't make every exercise of those freedoms a good thing."

      That's wrong. Exercising your freedoms is always a good thing. Now others may disagree with what you express or with whom you associate, and that's where the beauty of the First Amendment rests. Those others are likewise free to express differing opinions or to associate with those with whom they agree.

      And the failure of individuals to boycott other enterprises with which you find greater fault than with Manhunt merely suggests that those individuals might want to further research the companies they patronize, so that they can act accordingly where they deem it warranted. Is Crutchley and/or Manhunt the greatest threat to our survival? I sincerely doubt it.

      But since Crutchley's choices were made visible, people chose to act on them, and Manhunt in turn responded to their customers' actions. Had Manhunt chosen instead to stand firm behind Crutchley and explain their reasons to its customers, their customers' actions would still have had an effect, and the general public would be better informed.

      There was no right answer here, but an interesting and educational dialogue has ensued. That's a victory for the First Amendment.

    1. Double T on Aug 20, 2008 1:55:44 AM:

      It's all madness, my friend. LOL!!!!

      If I did NOTHING wrong. I would not resign.
      To paraphrase Richard Nixon,

      Is not my resignation enough of an apology for any and all of my alleged misdeeds.

      Man, that stings.

    1. Chuck on Aug 20, 2008 2:30:21 AM:

      Chris, I am appalled, dumbfounded and deeply offended for a number of reasons, which I shall try to enumerate and express my thoughts about.

      Firstly, I am, appalled that you would take a posting on your blog out of context, highlight it and spotlight it on the home page of Citizen Crain for the express purpose of holding it up to ridicule instead of replying to Allan, the poster, a little less innocuously on the blog from which you extracted it.

      Secondly, I was dumbfounded that you would label two of the tenets he posted as ‘straw men’. Obviously, you feel that freedom of speech is only appropriate if it meets your standards for expression and the test of being a ‘good thing’. If, in your opinion, it is NOT a good thing, then should the poster be barred from putting it in writing on your blog?

      On the subject of people using the freedom of association and the power of their dollar in the American capitalist system to reward businesses with whose actions they agree and punish those with they find fault, your pointing out that Jonathan Crutchley using his own money (from whatever source) for his own personal reasons is a bit too laissez faire for my tastes.

      Could you actually say that with a straight face if his money came from the Mafia or some other unsavory source? Is the LBGT’s critique and condemnation of a member of ‘our own’ for giving money to the enemy camp any different from finding out for instance, that the owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt contributed $125,000 to Proposition 8 in California? Is there some fine distinction here that I am not aware of? Should I be upset about one, but not the other?

      Neither of these irritating discoveries was in the best interest of our community. You paid homage to J. William Fulbright by quoting him.

      “The citizen who criticizes his country is paying it an implied tribute”.

      Yet, by sermonizing the poster you held up to ridicule for criticizing Mr. Crutchley, you just trashed the full beauty of Mr. Fulbright’s most enlightening and brilliant observation.

      You said, “I don’t think we want right-wing groups going on witch hunts for gay or gay-friendly execs at top companies, do we?”

      Sorry, but that sounds like a straw man to me. When the religious right calls for boycotting Wal Mart, The Ford Motor Company and McDonalds, et al, for standing up for, defending or contributing money to the LGBT community, what difference does it make whether the CEO is the target or not? It’s the decline of company sales and the possible laying off of employees who are the affected, not the CEO. And, is not the CEO’s desk the place where the buck stops?

      The fact that Crutchley is clearly not anti-gay is moot. His actions speak more loudly than any words he could have uttered and that is where he opened himself to being judged and challenged.

      I would like to debate you on the ‘effectiveness’ of boycotts, but that is the subject of a whole blog all by itself, so I will opt to move on.

      Immediately following your hazing of Allan, Kevin chimed in backing-up your commentary and added his own condemnation of Allan with the comment “There is an awful lot of hypocrisy here. Even Gawker.com see it, and nails it.”

      I clicked on the link Kevin provided and noted that it is a straight site, not that there is anything inherently bad about that. What offended me was the stereotypical manner in which straight media present gay news. Even more offensive, was the fact that a fellow gay directed my attention to a site that was obviously intent on fag-bashing.

      Shame on you, Kevin. One would have expected better from a gay site and if we need to be bashed, there is no shortage of sites on the Internet that are only too happy to indulge themselves in that sort of hypocrisy. It was so Republican of you, Kevin.

      Way beyond tongue-in-cheek, in fact over the top, the article was written with a sneering, contemptuous and belittling attitude that is so often the case with straight editorializing of gay news. But, this was the piece de resistance from that piece of tripe.

      “And this is what happens when politics shift from being about the issues of governance that are complicated and never perfect to being all about me and my feelings and what I want above all else, ignoring nearly every nuance and sad compromise that must inevitably exist for this country to reasonably function.”

      “Or maybe it’s just that dudes don’t want to think about McCain while they’re doing it.”

      Pardon me while I reach for the Lavoris to rinse after quoting these rotten passages that left a lousy taste in my mouth. How may times, have I seen similar postings from self-loathing, Republican Log Cabin gays on blogs like Citizen Crain, Queerty, Towleroad and Gay.com?

      “With global warming, environmental issues, high oil prices and a sagging economy, we should be concerning ourselves with these important issues rather than gay marriage, etc., etc., etc."

      That smells like bullshit to me. Multi-tasking, for these nay-sayers, is totally out of the question apparently. When civil liberties are regarded as being less important than other issues, then our democratic system of government is definitely in deep trouble.

      If the denial of civil liberties to any member or minority group of American citizens is condoned, then the civil liberties of all Americans are at great peril.

      And, the very last thing I would want to think of while ‘doing it’ is McCain.

    1. Allan on Aug 20, 2008 11:56:55 AM:

      Thanks, Chuck, I appreciate your comments.

      I did not take any personal offense at Chris. I did, in my comments, ask him several direct questions, and I don't care where or how he responds, as it is his turf.

      I didn't feel attacked or hazed by his post in the least. I am known for being confrontational in my posts here, and am accustomed to being scolded when others feel I go too far.

      What I find amusing about Chris's post is the following:

      "Even still, there's little question that the effectiveness of this kind of boycott almost always makes it a waste of activist energy."

      This "boycott" was a spontaneous, individually-driven response to Crutchley's choice. I didn't need any "activist" to tell me that I should cancel my Manhunt membership. I did so all by myself, and it took about one minute to do so. I then returned to my regularly scheduled activities fighting discrimination on other fronts, as did the others who made the same choice.

      And within days, Manhunt acted and we had succeeded.

      But thanks, Chris, for your concern about my energy expenditure and concerns about how ineffectively I spend it.

    1. Hawyer on Aug 20, 2008 11:59:01 AM:

      I am compelled to address those on this blog (including those with JD degrees, ahem) who stand corrected about the nature of the First Amendment:

      The First Amendment; i.e., freedom of speech, compels the government to stand down in milieu of public speech - it does not address the status of intra-citizenry speech.

      There is a plethora of case law, including libel, slander, etc., from which any aggrieved party may seek relief in civil court, if he believes someone else's speech has caused him harm (either monetary or reputation) - and case law is pretty clear on those standards: public figures, including politicians and officers of public companies, are, for the most part, fair game for open and overt criticism, including incitement for boycott.

      All of this straw man nonsense is totally the province of the writers' personal prejudices (and in my mind hints subtle affirmation of Jonathan Crutchley's politics) - and has nothing to do with First Amendment rights.



    1. North Dallas Thirty on Aug 20, 2008 12:29:49 PM:


      There is some doubt that Obama’s camp would be keen to accept Crutchley’s donation, however.

      The Herald article quoted Basile as saying, "Barack can’t endorse this kind of adult content. It’s sort of like a third rail."

      Added Basile, "I would imagine if it’s tough for one [party], it’s tough for the other."

      The Herald also quoted Michael Shea, who is a political consultant to the Democrats.

      Said Shea, by way of illustrating the political pitfalls of accepting money from controversial or unpopular sources, "You take money from the oil company and you’re a friend of big oil."

      Added Shea, "Something like this, where you could have graphic photos involved, can be very, very tricky. It’s certainly something that wouldn’t sell well in the Bible Belt."

      But of course, that wouldn't bother liberal gays; after all, as I pointed out above, they don't see anything wrong with gays and gay organizations giving money to state constitutional amendment supporters, FMA supporters, those who pander to Pat Robertson, and those who discriminate against and fire gays who complain about such behavior -- as long as those people are Democrats.

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