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Bracing For A Boycott: How Scott's Defense Of 'Stand Your Ground' Could Hurt Florida


The calls to boycott Florida grew louder and more widespread on Friday after Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his support for the broad self-defense law that was key to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.

Scott told demonstrators occupying the state capitol on Thursday that he will not submit the Stand Your Ground law to a special legislative session for revisions despite demands by activists, elected leaders and at least one prosecutor earlier in the day.

Stand Your Ground allows defendants to plead self-defense as long as they feared death or serious injury during a hostile encounter. The change it made to the old law was to remove the requirement to attempt to flee before resorting to deadly force.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of shooting Martin to death after the judge used the new Stand Your Ground language to instruct the jury on how to consider his self-defense claim.

The verdict plus Scott's dogged defense of Stand Your Ground touched off calls to boycott Florida products and destinations from ministers, politicians and freelance tweeters and Facebook users.

But there were others with a little more heft:

Stevie Wonder: The 63-year-old soul singer announced to a Canadian audience that he will not perform in Florida or any other state with a similar self-defense law (there are several) until the laws are repealed or substantially amended. Though Wonder is no longer an A-list superstar, many agree his call to punish Florida could be damaging and widely followed.

Martin Luther King III: The oldest son of the great civil rights leaders of the 1960s was a little more tentative than Wonder  as he addressed the NAACP convention in Orlando this week. “We applaud Stevie Wonder, who said he will not come down to Florida until the law is changed," King said. “We may have to look at not consuming Florida orange juice."

Moveon.org: By week's end, about 50 people had pledged  not to "support" Florida because of the Zimmerman and Casey Anthony acquittals. But, on another Moveon.org page, more than 10,000 were demanding changes to the Stand  Your Ground law.

Gov. Scott is urging activists not to politicize the Zimmerman verdict or the Stand Your Ground law.

But how effective could a Florida boycott be? Hard to tell. The assessments in the media seem to be colored by the political orientations of the writers. But there is a growing viewpoint that a boycott would cause the greatest harm to those who deserve it least. 

Dip Biswas, a marketing professor at the University of South Florida, told Tampa's Fox News television station that boycotts like this rarely have a significant impact.

"It's tough to predict the future, but in the short-run it might have some impact. But in the long run, it won't make a very big impact," he predicted. Biswas said those who are often negatively impacted the most by boycotts are business and their employees, many of whom can least afford it. "This boycott will end up hurting a lot of people who they are trying to empathize with, like a lot of African Americans, a lot of minorities who are heavily employed in the tourism industry," Biswas said.