Corporate big-footing offends many Georgians

R.P. Wildes is director of missions for the Fairburn Baptist Association.

There has been much said about the Religious Freedom Bill, both pro and con.

I do not mind the debate. Citizen’s opinions should be expressed and taken into account.

The Governor has made a tough decision in vetoing the bill. We hope that his actions were really based on what he feels is best for Georgia. It may appear that he has given in to the threats of businesses, and that he has set an unfortunate precedent that may harm Georgia in the long run.

The political process is sometimes a rocky road. But what really gets me upset is when a “group” tries to use undue pressure — almost blackmail and extortion methods — to win their biased way. In this case, I am referring to the businesses and corporations threatening to leave Georgia if they can’t get their way.

To me, corporations cross a line when they try to become political action committees. To have an opinion is one thing. To threaten loss of revenue and jobs to get your own way is another thing, one closely akin to extortion and blackmail.

These corporations, I believe, do business in Georgia under certain rules and regulations devised for the benefit of Georgians and the welfare of the state, as well as, the welfare of the business. Many have been given “concessions” and special “deals” in order for them to come here.

We all welcome the jobs, income and products they bring. However, when these entities decide to dictate policy and circumvent the political process, they cross a line from being welcomed guests to unappreciated imposers.

If these businesses and corporations do not appreciate the concessions, special deals or income they get in Georgia, then maybe they should go elsewhere. Personally, I don’t think they would do any better in any other state than in Georgia.

They need to learn that Georgians will not set well with entities trying to dictate legislation. They have drawn a line where there should be no line drawn. Their owners, management teams and workers who live in Georgia are a part of the “people” of Georgia imbued with certain rights.

Each one has the right to express their opinion and vote by their conscience; but they don’t try to double-dip their vote and influence by making threats to our Governor or legislators in order to coerce them to do things their way. Extortion tactics used to influence legislation will reflect negatively upon those who use them.

We do not have to do business with these entities. I don’t have to drink Coke. I don’t have to use AT&T or Verizon. I don’t have to fly Delta Air Lines. I don’t have to tune in to Turner Broadcasting. I can choose alternatives that show respect to Georgians and our political system.

No matter where one is positioned on this issue, the citizens have a right to take a stand without the fear of reprisals if they abide by the laws of the state.

Companies have a right to do business without fear of reprisal if they abide by the rules and regulations of the state. But when businesses become PAC’s, they open doors for reaction to them and the policies they promote.

Why not let the political process work? If legislators and officials offend the masses, let them be replaced or recalled by due process. Just don’t try to blackmail and extort legislators, or pressure officials by threats.

To me, that should be against the law; or at least grounds for canceling any previous concessions or special deals.