America’s oldest operating brewery is facing one of America’s oldest problems: Having an unpopular political opinion.
Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state representative from Philadelphia — and the state’s first openly gay legislator — rallied a cry for bars in the city’s “Gayborhood” to remove the beer from their taps. “Everybody understands that the dollars that we now put into the marketplace have the potential to come back at us,” Sims told The New York Times. “I want my dollars spent in a way that at the very least doesn’t hurt me, and hopefully supports me.”
At least one bar owner in Washington, D.C. recorded a video of himself removing his bar’s Yuengling tap, and reactions from non-bar-owning citizens to the same effect poured in on Facebook and Twitter.
“Enough” maybe have been too much, but whether to weigh in at all is a difficult query for business owners. The Times cited a report by New York-based public affairs agency the Global Strategy Group that found 78 percent of Americans polled in 2015 believe corporations “should take action to address important issues facing society.”
That said, Ivo Welch, a UCLA professor of economics and finance, told Freakonomics Radio earlier in 2016 that, “Boycotts almost surely will never work… Boycotts are basically just part of the population. They’re not really enforced. They’re not really legal. They are very leaky. So those have never worked, as far as I can tell.”
Whether or not the boycott being called for “works” on Yuengling, the company’s social media managers are certainly in for a rough few days.