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Magazine initiates Disney vote via telephone, Internet, mail

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A vote by toll-free telephone numbers, the Internet and U.S. mail on whether The Disney Company should be boycotted was initiated by USA Weekend magazine in its July 18-20 issue.
To vote by telephone in favor of a Disney boycott, for example, dial 1-800-446-8405; against, 1-800-446-8406. The first 100,000 calls will be tallied; the lines will be open through midnight July 24.
The Sunday supplement magazine item, headlined, “Gays, Baptists and Disney,” recounted: “The Southern Baptist Convention has urged its members to boycott Disney because of what it calls the company’s pro-gay policies and offensive entertainment.”
“Everyone has an opinion about the Southern Baptist boycott of gay-friendly Disney,” USA Weekend stated. “What’s yours?”
Meanwhile, the president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has announced an initiative to monitor the boycott’s impact.
Richard Land, in the July issue of the ERLC’s newsletter Salt, stated:
“Since Disney will not release figures, the only way to measure the financial impact on Disney is to call for Southern Baptists and others who join them to write Michael Eisner a letter at the end of every month noting how much money each family did not spend on Disney products that month in support of Southern Baptists’ financial protest and send the ERLC a copy of the letters. We will tabulate the results on a regular basis and share them with the public.”
Eisner, Disney’s president, can be addressed at The Disney Company, 500 South Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521.
The ERLC’s address is 901 Commerce St. #550, Nashville, TN 37203.
Disney’s stock has continued its May-June-July decline, closing July 18 at 75 7/8, the lowest since the June 18 Disney boycott vote by messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Dallas. On May 12, Disney stock had posted a 52-week high of $85.375 a share.
The USA Weekend poll, while unscientific, will be a sampling of Gannett-published magazine’s claimed 41.7 million readers.
The USA Weekend item included pro-and-con comments by seven individuals on the Disney boycott.
From Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Mo., pastor Delmar McCollum of First Baptist Church, stated: “We don’t do this because we have hate in our hearts. We feel like a wrong has been done. The bottom line for the Disney company is money. If you cut the source of money, then you have gotten to the root of what they see as God in their life.”
In addition to the toll-free numbers, votes also can be registered at USA Weekend’s site on the World Wide Web — http://www.usaweekend.com — or by mailing one’s vote on a postcard or the back of an envelope to Disney Boycott, USA Weekend, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22229.
The overall tally will be announced in USA Weekend in its Aug. 22- 24 issue.
In addition to the Missouri pastor, among others commenting in USA Weekend was SBC President Tom Elliff: “We want to encourage Disney to use the privilege of free speech in a fashion that encourages a high standard of morality in our nation. While Disney is free to do as they will, at the same time we’re certainly within our rights to encourage our members to think twice about the manner in which they spend their entertainment dollars. … Right is right, whether the boycott gets the desired result or not.”
The magazine repeated the Disney company’s official response to the SBC boycott: “We are proud that the Disney brand creates more family entertainment of every kind than anyone else in the world, and we plan to increase that production.”
And it quoted David M. Smith, of the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual rights political organization: “It’s immoral to punish Disney for choosing not to discriminate against gay people. Regardless of how you feel about gay issues in general, most people do not believe gay people should be hurt or discriminated against.”
Land was quoted as saying, “We’re saying to Disney, ‘You can’t walk both sides of the street.’ People are particularly upset when a former friend becomes a foe,” while Freddie Adams, a member of the First Baptist Church, Rockville, Md., said, “There are a lot of people at our church who do not support the boycott. It’s silly.”
Finally, the magazine reported President Clinton’s response to reporters’ questions of whether he would participate in the boycott — “No.” — and a comment by Ann Lewis, White House communications director: “Remember, go see a Disney movie this weekend.”
In the ERLC initiative, the SBC agency said a sample letter to Disney might read:
“Dear Chairman Eisner:
“We agree with and are participating in the Southern Baptist Convention-led financial protest against your corporation and its entities to express our displeasure with your current policies. We believe these policies are in direct opposition to the moral standards that we, as Christians, hold to be absolute. As a result of your company’s radical shift away from a wholesome, pro-family philosophy, my family did not spend the following amount on your products this month:
(A list could include not patronizing the Disney theme parks in Florida and California; not purchasing merchandise from Disney toy-and- apparel stores; or not watching Disney-owned ABC, ESPN, Lifetime and A&E networks. A complete list of Disney subsidiaries may be obtained by writing to the ERLC or visiting its Web site: http://www.erlc.com.)
“We continue to pray that you will return to the corporate and pro-family policies of your corporation’s founder, Mr. Walt Disney.”
Land, in his Salt column, answered several questions about the boycott, including:
— “Why boycott? — Financial protests or ‘boycotts’ have a long history in America, starting with the Boston Tea Party. One of the most successful boycotts in our history was organized by Martin Luther King Jr. against the Montgomery, Ala., bus system in 1955. There, blacks said that if they were restricted to the back of the bus, they would walk to work and deprive the bus company of ticket revenue. After 381 days, the bus system lost so much money that they agreed to integrate the buses. Sometimes you have to help people do the right thing.
— “Why Disney? — First, Disney is a media giant with annual revenues of $18.7 billion and an enormous impact on our culture. As the caretakers of national treasures like Mickey Mouse, their influence looms even larger than their revenues. They have tremendous power to mould national opinion and values. Second, until recently most parents viewed Disney as an ally and a friend in the struggle for decent, wholesome family entertainment. Now they have become a major part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
— “What has Disney done? — Disney has shifted from a pro-family to an anti-family focus in recent years. Disney hired avowed lesbian Lauren Lloyd to develop female and lesbian movies. Out, a homosexual magazine, responded: ‘Like it or not, lesbians are not yet chic entertainment attractions for a lot of America. With Lloyd and Disney on our side, though, anything is possible’ (Out, Nov. 1994). Is ‘Ellen’ one of the results of this initiative?
“Disney helped underwrite the 1993 Hollywood benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (The Press Enterprise, 12/28/93). Hyperion Press, a Disney-owned subsidiary, has published Growing Up Gay, written by three homosexuals to encourage ‘gay’ young people, and Separate Creation, a book arguing for homosexuals as a third sex or ‘separate creation’ that should be acknowledged and treated as normally as heterosexual males and females. Disney-owned Miramax produced the virulently anti-Christian movie Priest, and Disney-owned Hollywood Pictures produced Chicks in White Satin, a film about a lesbian couple who decide on a ‘commitment celebration’ (Glamour, 8/9/94).
“And this graphic anti-family trend has also invaded the Disney animated films,” Land wrote. “In The Little Mermaid, a priest becomes aroused while presiding at a wedding. In The Lion King, the New York Times noted that the actors portraying Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the wart hog, claimed to be ‘the first homosexual Disney characters ever to come on the screen.'”