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New and Improved! Civil Rights 2.0 (Brought to You By Intel)


By circumstance and TV viewing habits, I’ve been particularly attuned to the advertising world of late. And while I still believe corporations will be the ruination of America (we seem to have forgotten that money burns), business may be unintentionally performing a public good.

Consider: Three years ago, six states recognized gay marriage.  Today, it’s 36 — plus D.C. And while the Supreme Court weighs the issue on the federal level, its eventual success, regardless of the conservative slackwits on the bench, is certain.

That’s because American business has deemed it so. Years before politicians, corporate brain trusts from Hollywood  to GM to Apple recognized the gay community. Not out of a sense of altruism or fairness. But as a business strategy; gay  Americans statistically form a powerful financial demographic. From Will & Grace,  Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, even as far back as Three’s Company, Hollywood embraced the corporate notion that there is one gender symbol: $.

That’s a powerful concept, one that recognizes the right of all Americans to spend freely, regardless of what your religious pamphlet says. Other businesses quickly followed suit.

Witness what happened in March in Indiana, where the huckleberries passed a bill permitting god-fearing shop owners to refuse service to the godless.


Business saw clear past this ruse, recognizing it as a weapon against gays (or any group Indiana representatives deigned loathsome, for that matter). Businesses, including the NCAA, which held its Final Four in Indianapolis, threatened to boycott the state. Apple said not only that it wouldn’t recognize the law; it would rethink opening new business in the state of hayseeds. “Lawmakers” quickly backed down, redacting the most offensive language. Hopefully, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi witnessed that on their World Wide Intertubes.

The original (and ongoing) civil rights battle didn’t have the backing of corporate America. If anything, corporate America was fine with discriminating against black Americans. It even worked racism into the business model, in the form of segregated bar stools, bathrooms, beaches and busses. Even today, analysts seemed stunned by how well entertainment sells in the “urban market.”


But, in addition to one gender, money sees one race: Patent Green. And money is just fine with gay marriage, transgendered customers, minority businesses and godless entrepreneurs. Hell, money even digs potheads: Colorado, which just legalized marijuana, reported a tax windfall of $53 million last year in weed revenues. It ain’t perfect, but at least it ain’t politics.

So pack that in your bong and blaze, Moral Majority diehards, and get used to domestically-partnered next door neighbors. You’re about to turn all colors of the rainbow as you blend into green.

Still, some things businesses can’t seem to advance. I just saw a commercial for Trident, which is still clinging to its “One out of every five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”

Who, exactly, is that fifth dentist? A pawn in the Bubble Yum lobby? Come on, Trident. Only 80%? You’re doing the polling — of puppets. You’d think you could do better than a B-.



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