Don’t Boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel – Shame the Sultan of Brunei Instead (Guest Blog)

Why sign a petition against an establishment that you’d probably never visit?

It’s an easy protest. Boycott or sign a petition against an establishment that you’d probably never visit. I mean, how many of us still have meetings in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel or cavort by the pool at the Hotel Bel Air? I’ve never had high tea at The Dorchester in London and I’ve never overnighted at the Principe di Savoia in Milan or the LeMeurice in Paris. None of those hotels take my Marriott points so what good would a boycott do?

No matter how heinous the actions of their owner, the Sultan of Brunei, or how misogynistic and anti-gay the laws in Brunei (death by stoning for those engaging in same-sex relationships), boycotting is not the way to protest.

When you boycott, the people who are first harmed are the hourly workers who are dismissed when business falls off. The sultan does not suffer. The board of directors do not suffer. They will still get their Corniches detailed regularly and they won’t miss a meal.

It wasn’t long ago that I was urged through an email to boycott Edible Arrangements, the company that makes fruit baskets. Some nut job was trying to stir up hate on the pretense that Edible Arrangements was a front for Hamas. It’s not. The email campaign was a front for hysteria. The problem was nobody was ordering these baskets anyway.

I don’t know anyone who goes to these hotels. If you want to boycott Best Western, then I can make a dent.

About 10 years ago, we were met with the challenge of keeping long-term care intact at The Motion Picture and Telvision Fund’s retirement home due to a threatened closure that would have sent the industry’s elderly, dementia- and illness-riddled parents into dog kennel-like nursing homes.

But we didn’t boycott DreamWorks Animation movies even though its CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg was on the board of the fund. We publicly shamed those who were responsible. We took to the streets and staged rallies. We organized with trade unions like SAG-AFTRA and the SEIU. We wrote blogs and articles. We got on morning news shows. We created such havoc for those whose vision did not include long-term care, that they had to reverse their decision just to save face. And long-term care at the Motion Picture Home flourishes to this day.

The Sultan of Brunei is no different than the CEO of DreamWorks Animation when it comes to image consciousness.

If you want to change the laws that mete out harsh and inhuman punishment based on sexual preference, then hit the streets. Shame the sultan. Shame his board. Shame a nation that stones homosexuals and sexually mutilates young women. Stand outside these hotels with signs. It will attract news cameras. Create commotion on the property that brings attention to the inhumanity of the owners. Join ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) and ask them what you can do. If they say boycott, tell them that you never go to those properties anyway. Tell them that you are all in to make a change. It can be done. Believe me.

Let George Clooney and Elton John stay at the W instead of the Bel Air. Their commitment and their voice carry a lot of weight, and it is felt by the Sultan — however, it is up to us to protest and link arms with those who fight against the suffering of mankind. Together we will do more than boycott.

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