The Southern Baptist Convention holds sway over a plurality of Dustbury's churchgoers, which undoubtedly explains why church leadership's recent decision to boycott the Walt Disney Company was the lead story in what passes for a newspaper in these parts. Mockery being my stock in trade, I was all but champing at the bit to roast these blithering buffoons, but somewhere in the midst of it all, I perceived some signs of brilliance, and it wasn't mine. If anything, the Baptists' boycott could turn out to be a win-win situation for everyone concerned.

Disney itself will be happy to point out that its domestic-partner benefit program was upgraded to include gay couples in order to bring the program up to the industry standard — other entertainment companies were already doing the same. And the last time Disney caught any flak from this quarter was the much-debated coming-out episode of Ellen, a show distributed by Disney's Touchstone Television and aired by Disney's ABC network, which scored a substantial ratings increase. It's almost enough for me to wish someone would boycott my Web site.

The Southern Baptists themselves, of course, will be gratified that their movers and shakers are willing to take a strong stand against what they see as a threat to public morality. Conservative Christians have been working the Us vs Them angle with considerable success in recent years, and the Disney boycott provides some updated, if not exactly fresh, weaponry.

Christians away from the rightist side of the spectrum — the so-called "mainstream" denominations, although the Southern Baptists outnumber every other non-Catholic religious group in the country — can see the Disney boycott as a further indication that the conservatives have abandoned the teachings of Jesus Christ and gone after political power instead, a notion they've often expressed in private and hardly ever in public, and one they might well be happy to see played out on the front page.

The gay/lesbian community, occasionally fragmented in recent years while becoming more diverse, gets to unite against the Common Enemy once more, and from this unity comes philosophical and perhaps even political strength.

And me? I get six paragraphs of material for my first essay of the summer. Pretty astute, those Baptists.

The Vent

#58
22 June 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill