Business

U.S. Toy Giant ERTL Rethinks Links with Monckton

Top U.S. toy maker, the IIlinois-based ERTL company, is dropping British right-wing commentator Christopher Monckton, following revelations by OutRage! that he has advocated that everyone with HIV should be quarantined “compulsorily, immediately and permanently” (American Spectator, January 1987).

Monckton is the designer of ERTL’s new puzzle game, Eternity, which is expected to net the company over £ 10 million in sales. It was due to be launched in the U.S. next week, and Monckton was expected to attend the glitzy launch event in New York. That event may now be postponed or cancelled.

“We will be making (sic) steps to have no further dealings with respect to the promotion and marketing of the puzzle utilising Christopher Monckton”, wrote Martin Richards, ERTL’s Director of Marketing in Britain. He was responding to inquiries from journalist Matthew Christian of the London gay newspaper Axiom News.

ERTL say they agreed to manufacture and market Monckton’s money-spinning game without realising that he had proposed the “isolation” of up to 3 million Americans and 30,000 Britons with HIV.

“We were unaware of Christopher Monckton’s reported beliefs”, Richards told Axiom News. “These are not the views of our company who (sic) prides itself on being an equal opportunities employer.”

ERTL are still, at this stage, refusing to cancel their contract with Monckton.

“ERTL’s decision to dump Monckton from its promotional campaigns is good news. But so long as his contract stands, Monckton will continue to make millions”, said Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay rights group, OutRage!, which is spearheading the campaign. “It is unacceptable for ERTL to profit from someone who wants all people with HIV incarcerated for the rest of their lives.”

“Although ERTL claims it cannot revoke its deal with Monckton, company contracts normally have get-out clauses that allow termination if a signatory says or does things that bring the company into disrepute. ERTL should invoke that clause to cancel its deal with Monckton.”

“The Bank of Scotland made similar pleas that it was unable to pull out of its contract with right-wing U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson. However, as soon as the campaign against Robertson became high-profile and effective, the Bank of Scotland found a way of ditching him. We hope ERTL will follow suit”, said Tatchell.

Meanwhile, mystery and confusion surround Christopher Monckton. According to ERTL: “We have a contractual agreement between ourselves and Yearfarm Trading & Investments Limited, not Christopher Monckton”.

At Companies House, Yearfarm is not listed. It does not exist, according to their records. When asked by Private Eye magazine where Yearfarm was based, and for a contact name and phone number, both ERTL and Monckton refused to comment. Monckton also declined to say whether Yearfarm was his company and whether he held shares or directorships in Yearfarm.

Monckton claims that Peter Tatchell and OutRage! have been reported to Exeter CID with a view to prosecution. But Exeter police told Private Eye they have no knowledge of any complaint, and no record of any criminal investigation.

Monckton denies being homophobic. Yet he has boasted that “what homosexuals do to each other … is wildly unnatural and repulsive in the extreme” (as reported in Private Eye, 4 December 1992).

“While ERTL maintains its association with Monckton, the OutRage! campaign will continue. We are publicising our campaign with AIDS, gay and human rights groups across the United States. ERTL and other companies need to be reminded that bigotry is unethical and bad for business”, said Tatchell.

OutRage! has circulated details to U.S. chapters of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, and to the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the People With AIDS Coalition.

Monckton’s repressive views are wildly out of step with government, medical and human rights opinion. The only organisations that share his solution to the AIDS crisis are fascist and neo-Nazi groups.

The Ertl Company
P.O. Box 500
Dyersville, IA 52040-0500, USA.
Phone: +1-319-875-2000
Fax: +1-319-875-5674
E-mail: consumer_services@ertltoys.com

Top Toy Maker ERTL Threatened by Boycott

Top toy manufacturer, Ertl, is being condemned by the gay rights group OutRage! over its link up with British right-wing guru, Christopher Monckton, designer of its latest puzzle game, Eternity. The new game, which could net the company over £10 million in world-wide sales, is being launched shortly in the US.

Monckton has urged that the entire population of the United States and Britain should be compulsorily tested for HIV, and that everyone with the virus should be forcibly quarantined for life. He wants up to 3 million Americans and 30,000 Britons with HIV locked up permanently.

Ertl is the company that markets Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine. It prides itself on a liberal, progressive reputation which, says OutRage!, makes the association with Monckton “ethically inappropriate” and “bound to be harmful to Ertl’s corporate image”.

OutRage! spokesperson Peter Tatchell warns: “Ertl could be the target of a boycott campaign if it continues the link with Monckton and goes ahead with the US launch of Eternity. There are plans for a glizty New York debut for Eternity in about two weeks, with Monckton being flown over to the US for the launch party.

“The Bank of Scotland and fashion house Laura Ashley were forced recently to cancel deals with right-wing US television evangelist Pat Robertson after protests against his homophobia by gay and human rights groups in Britain. This success shows the power of consumer boycotts to influence corporate policy. We hope Ertl will realise that associating with bigotry is bad for business.

“OutRage! has written to Ertl’s Chief Executive, Bob Dods, at its global headquarters in Illinois, USA, urging the company to pull out of the deal with Monckton. If the US launch goes ahead, we are likely to join forces with American groups to spearhead a ‘Don’t buy Ertl’ campaign”, said Tatchell.

Monckton is a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and ex-chief leader writer of the London newspaper, The Standard. He is the designer of Ertl’s latest multi-million pound money-spinner, the mystery puzzle, Eternity. Reputably impossible to solve, a prize of £1 million is being offered to anyone who comes up with a solution before 30 September 2000.

Launched in Britain on 2 July and priced at £29.99, Eternity is a highly sophisticated jigsaw, requiring players to fit 209 jagged green plastic pieces into a 12-sided grid.

Ertl’s Managing Director in the UK is Robert Mann (01392-44.54.34), and its global Chief Executive is Bob Dods (+1-630 790 3507).

Monckton spelt out his solution to the AIDS crisis in an article in The American Spectator, January 1987:

“There is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life…Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month…all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.”

To prevent global HIV transmission, Monckton’s article advises:

“Strict controls would be needed at all borders. Visitors would be required to take blood tests at the port of entry and would be quarantined in the immigration building until the tests had proved negative.”

Responding to criticisms that quarantining such large numbers of people would be impossible, Monckton claimed:

“In the United States, between 1.5 and 3 million people are already carriers of AIDS. Isolation of so large a number of people would be an enormous and daunting task, though not altogether impossible…In Britain, my own country, only 30,000 carriers are known. Isolation of this comparatively small number would not be insuperably difficult.”

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON – BACKGROUND BIOGRAPHY

  • Son of Viscount Monckton of Bletchley, a former advisor to the Royal Family and ex-general with the British Army of the Rhine.
    Brother of Rosa Monckton, who is married to Dominic Lawson, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, and a former close friend and confidante of the late Princess Diana.
  • Member of the Downing Street Policy Unit 1982-86, advising the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
  • Assistant Editor, Today newspaper 1986-87.
  • Chief leader writer, The Standard newspaper, 1987-92.
  • Member of the far right Conservative Family Campaign, which lobbied against abortion, sex education in schools, and lesbian and gay equality.

The Ertl Company
P.O. Box 500
Dyersville, IA 52040-0500, USA.
Phone: +1-319-875-2000
Fax: +1-319-875-5674
E-mail: consumer_services@ertltoys.com

Bank of Scotland stand zapped at Ideal Home Exhibition

Protesters with placards at Bank of Scotland stand. ©1999 John Hunt/OutRage! London

 N.B. The Bank of Scotland should not be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

At 2:50 today, Saturday, 10th April, 8 gay activists from OutRage! descended upon the Bank of Scotland stand at London’s Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, challenging staff to explain the massive joint business venture with the notorious US right-wing fundamentalist Dr. Pat Robertson, handing out leaflets to exhibition visitors, and displaying placards with the slogans:

  • Bank of Scotland in Bed with American Fascist
  • Stop Bank funding anti-women evangelist
  • No credit to bank that joins racist Robertson
  • Stop multi-billion deal with American homophobe
  • Under the deal, announced by the Bank of Scotland on 2nd March, a new direct banking subsidiary of the Bank of Scotland will be set up in the United States, 65% owned by the Bank of Scotland, and 25% owned by Robertson.

Robertson, founder of an organisation which calls itself the Christian Coalition, (which he describes as “people of faith working together to become the unified voice of families with children in middle-class America”), is on record as opposing almost every other group: women, Moslems, Hindus, gay men and lesbians, … Twenty-five percent of the profits of the new subsidiary will go straight to the campaign coffers of his fundamentalist fanatics.

The Bank acknowledge that “Robertson is well known for his personal views, particularly on abortion and homosexuality”, but initially attempted to maintain that “these views do not reflect in any way on our continuing commitment to providing the highest levels of service to all members of the community”. However, BoS Treasurer Gavin Masterton conceded in the Scottish Sunday Herald, (28th March), that profits from Robertson’s involvement in the venture will end up funding his ultra-right-wing campaigns.

The Church of Scotland has condemned the deal in very strong terms; and Action for Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), representing nearly all Scotland’s 1.5 million church members and including all main denominations, was widely reported to have advised all member churches to withdraw accounts, (although their official position as of 17th April is that they have not yet taken this action, but neither have they ruled it out). Edinburgh City Council has passed a censure motion; and other Scottish local authorities, including Shetland Islands and East Lothian are expected to follow.

Despite this well-documented background, which led to £1 billion being wiped off BoS share values in March, staff at the stand denied all details of the scandal.

Robertson has shown in the past that he has little respect for regulations. His Christian Broadcasting Network was fined a large sum last year by the U.S. tax authorities for illegally funding his U.S. Presidential bid to the tune of 8.5 million dollars.

“People should know what their money is funding. Robertson is a politician who actively promotes racism, sexism and homophobia in a national political campaign”, said Gordon Lee, one of the protesters.

PRESS COPY: Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter) 0378-30.76.36
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Jack Bagha (ISF photographer) 0370-48.29.09

Quotes from Robertson

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Fundraising letter, 1992.

“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. ‘What do you mean?’ the media challenged me. ‘You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, ‘Yes, they are.’” — Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order”, page 218.

(talking about apartheid South Africa) “I think ‘one man, one vote,’ just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.” — Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club”, 18-March-1992

To complain to the Bank of Scotland

To complain to the Bank to complain about this alliance with Pat Robertson ring their Head Office on 0131-442 7777, or Freephone 0500-31.31.11, (or 0800-43.52.14 for Bank of Scotland Freeway – a motor vehicle contract purchase scheme). Note that telephone calls may be recorded for security purposes and may be monitored under the Bank’s Quality Control procedures.

If you are not a BoS customer, insist on having your complaint registered as a concerned person or group. If you are a BoS customer, consider taking your business elsewhere and let the Head Office and your branch know you are considering this.

Note that on 22nd March the BoS appointed Jack Irvine, former Sun editor, and now a PR consultant specialising in crisis management, to defend the deal publicly for them. Irvine is well-known for his homophobic views. Writing last year in the Scottish Daily Mirror in response to the House of Commons vote to equalise the age of consent, he described gay men as “Slobbering queers who want to get their hands on 16 year-old boys’ bottoms”.

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The Pink Pound – Gay Businesses should not exploit their Staff

Have you ever felt short-changed by the Gay Business Association’s endless perpetuation of the so called “Pink Pound”?

It’s a seductive concept: the idea of a mass of issue-conscious, gay, lesbian and bisexual consumers, capable of (and willing to) exercise their purchasing power to the detriment of businesses that hurt queers … it’s certainly something we’d all like to believe in.

But just look, the ambivalent pattern of consumer spending behaviour within our community — it’s not exactly inspiring, is it?

For example, the apparent lack of anything more than passive queer concern over Time Out’s exposure of staff sexual abuse allegations against Compton’s of Soho manager, George Winchcole, makes a mockery out of the notion of a conscientious “pink pound”; it also casts doubt upon the existence of a genuine, gay, lesbian and bisexual “community”.

If these two things really existed, surely queers would have diverted their custom and expenditure away from a bar that has acquired such an unpleasant reputation.

Sure they would – but they haven’t. Compton’s has consistently been as packed as ever since the allegations first emerged, and the free queer press has (at best) treated the issue as a wholly peripheral news story — a sorry spectacle that illustrates the shameful extent to which they are tucked inside the bar owner’s pockets. The queer press only responded once the story became impossible to ignore. Without Time Out the story would have probably never seen the light of day.

It’s fucking disgraceful, and radical queers must not be afraid to look critically at things that emanate from the (ultimately self interested) GBA, instead of from queer subculture in its far broader sense.

The truth is the “pink pound” protagonists will sell us short every time in the name of a big, fat pink profit; and the wall of silence that initially surrounded the Compton’s fiasco illustrates this far better than words ever could.

OutRage! calls on the GBA to draw up a code of conduct opposing sexual harassment in the workplace (including an independent complaints procedure) and require all its member businesses to sign it.

We also call for the formation of a union for employees working in Gay Businesses to protect their interests against greedy, exploitative employers. We suggest BUGGER – the British Union for Good Gay Employees’ Rights.