States can boycott — but not to penalize protected rights

Maryland flagAfter the November 18th Montgomery County Legislative Priorities hearing in Rockville, one Freedom2Boycott speaker’s statement was met with a somewhat confused critique by “Seventh State” blogger David Lublin.  Responding to Thomas Nephew’s call for “efforts to explicitly guarantee that political boycott, divestment, or sanctions campaigns can not be penalized by the state of Maryland in any way,” Lublin asserted:

The problem with this argument is that, if one support [sic] strongly the right to boycott, presumably the State is allowed to boycott people who boycott. Clearly, the author doesn’t oppose state boycotts, as he cites the South Africa divestment movement an example–a movement that had promoting governmental sanctions against South Africa as a core goal.

screenshot-www freedom2boycott com 2015-11-28 01-18-12And indeed we don’t oppose state boycotts of foreign governments for engaging in wrongful behavior.  We do, however, oppose state penalization of American companies, organizations, or people for engaging in protected speech — in particular, such as advocating or engaging in a “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) campaign against the state of Israel because of its illegal actions.

While we believe that distinction was always sufficiently clear, we’ll spell out a corollary for Mr. Lublin: no, the state should not be allowed to boycott some people merely for boycotting others.  That is precisely why MCCRC is joining with Freedom2Boycott in opposing the threat of such legislation.

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