Moralizing CEOs Exert Pressure Over Guns and Abortion Laws

Marc Benioff

The trend for corporations to use their leverage to exert influence on divisive public policies escalated last week, with the potential of driving off a significant segment of their customer and investor base, in the name of self-styled “corporate social responsibility.”

In the higher-profile examples, tech-entertainment studios Disney, Netflix, WarnerMedia and a few others threatened to remove productions from the state of Georgia, because of a recently-passed pro-life law that prevents the abortion of any unborn child in which a heartbeat has been detected.

In another example, business software giant Salesforce announced it would not allow businesses that use its product to sell certain types of guns.

So now corporate social responsibility has come down decisively in favor of the view that a beating heart is not evidence of the presence of life, that would be worthy of preservation. And it also means that the ability for mature, trustworthy citizens to protect their lives, health and property with legal firearms to counter any threats against them also is deemed unacceptable.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the fetal heartbeat protection bill into law on May 7th.  Ever since, a parade of leftist Hollywood celebrities have decried the alleged infringement on “women’s rights,” and vowed to stop working in the Peach State as long as the abortion limitation was law.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

And Disney CEO Robert Iger said, “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully.”

Georgia has become a hotspot for Hollywood to shoot its productions because of extremely generous tax benefits, but fortunately for the low-tax business-friendly state, it is not enslaved to the intermittent activity of Hollywood studios. Gov. Kemp and the Republican lawmakers who enacted the fetal heartbeat law can afford to stand on their principles.

Then there’s Salesforce and its progressive CEO Marc Benioff, who in recent weeks has demanded its retailer-customers to either discontinue sales of “military style” guns, or they will be barred “from using [Salesforce’s] technology to market products, manage customer service operations and fulfill orders,” according to the Washington Post. The new policy drilled down to several specific characteristics that fall under the ban, such as detachable magazines, flash suppressors and pistol grips, all of which are legal in the U.S.

Following last year’s mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., Benioff called for a ban of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in a tweet. He also donated $1 million to student-led March for Our Lives gun-control initiative, which emerged following the Parkland attack. And similar to what the production companies are doing to Georgia, Benioff has exerted his influence in other states’ matters, by threatening to remove Salesforce activity in Indiana and North Carolina over issues of religious freedom and public facility usage by transgenders, respectively.

One gun-rights advocate, Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, called Salesforce’s gun decision “corporate-policy virtue signaling,” according to the Post. And Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said the blackballing of “perfectly legal products” could lead to more draconian corporate bans.

“Some people may think this is a great idea,” Gottlieb told the Washington Free Beacon, “but if it is allowed now because the targeted product is a particular type of firearm, what’s to prevent this or another company from deciding sometime in the future to essentially blacklist another product it doesn’t like?

“Suddenly, we’re not talking about an affront to the Second Amendment and millions of law-abiding firearms owners, we’re talking about possible restraint of trade. When social justice warriors become corporate bullies, maybe it’s time for Congress to step in and provide some adult supervision.”

Self-appointed CEO arbiters of morality and “what’s right,” like Benioff and Apple’s Tim Cook, think they serve what’s best for their for their customers, employees and shareholders, when in reality they further divide the country politically and demonize those who engage in perfectly legal behavior, but who see the world differently than they do.

“Does this become a hot-button issue in states where people like their assault rifles?” wondered financial analyst Tom Roderick of Stifel Nicolaus.

Interestingly another business entity that has been slapped around in recent years for an excessive focus on politics – Disney-owned ESPN – appears to have been enlightened, after the backlash it received for taking leftist postures supporting controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick and opposing President Trump. New president Jimmy Pitaro, who replaced John Skipper last year, has moved the sports network away from the political drift and re-emphasized pure sports coverage. Both Pitaro and his boss at Disney, Robert Iger, admitted their error last fall.

“What we hear is that, sports are supposed to unify. Right?” Pitaro saidin a podcast interview with tech website Recode. “And that means ESPN is supposed to unify. That’s the approach that we’re taking.”

Sadly that appears to be the exception to the rule in America’s corporate culture today.