What the Hobby Lobby Decision Means for Men

A Bible is not a health care plan

This is not a health care plan

Obviously, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny female employees prescription drug coverage for birth control pills has a dramatic impact on women’s health. But it poses plenty of troubling issues for men too. That’s because the premise underlying the decision views the rights of a “closely held” corporation as superior to the rights of an individual. And not just any right — the right of an individual to control his/her physical person.

Had the “public option” not been dropped from healthcare reform, we might not have this problem. But as long as the US expects employers to shoulder the primary responsibility for providing health insurance, this conflict of values will be a source of contention. If the Hobby Lobby owners choose to ignore scientific fact, viewing some forms of contraception as abortifacients, that’s their prerogative. But that’s no reason they should block an employee’s access to a particular type of medication. Hobby Lobby is, after all, merely a middleman in the health insurance supply chain.

The Hobby Lobby decision raises several pertinent questions for all people. Can a “closely held” corporation…

  • Refuse to insure fertility treatments for men and women, since they interfere with divine will?
  • Refuse to insure Viagra and similar drugs that encourage male sexual activity beyond a seemly age?
  • Block procedures and medications to treat sexually transmitted diseases, clearly only contracted by the immoral and promiscuous?
  • Discriminate against gay men? Perhaps their flouting of Leviticus disqualifies them from receiving healthcare altogether.
  • Single out HIV and AIDS patients? (I wonder if one could get treatment on the condition that he or she proves the HIV was contracted via blood transfusion or another way that is acceptable to the employer.)
  • Take this idea beyond healthcare? For instance, do the Christian consciences of Hobby Lobby’s owners exempt them from public accommodation laws?

Bottom line: Do you control your body? Or does your employer? Or the state, in the guise of five old men clinging to inherited privilege?

It’s an easy out for some to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t work for Hobby Lobby,” but that’s not the point. We’re on a slippery slope and there are 48 similar cases working their way through lower courts right now. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in her dissent, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Worst Companies in the US: The Final Four

The Consumerist has released the results of its annual poll to find the Worst Company in America. This year the “Golden Poo” award goes to cable giant Comcast, which narrowly beat out GMO agriculture behemoth Monsanto for the title. Comcast also won the title back in 2010.

Protesting against Monsanto

Protest photo courtesy of SourceWatch.org and used under CC license 3.0

The Comcast victory will be of particular interest to Time Warner customers, since the two firms are hoping to merge in the near future. Read more about this problematic pairing on the HuffPost blog of Letitia James, NYC Public Advocate.

PETA uses this SeaWorld of Hurt logo for its website

Logo for PETA’s website SeaWorldofHurt.org

The other two corporations (or, “persons,” according to The Supreme Court) to make the Final Four are those beloved marine animal abusers at SeaWorld and everyone’s favorite wage-miser, Wal-Mart.

And you thought there was no justice in the universe!

Content Marketing: Back to the Future

Content marketing is the same as PR

Content marketing is public relations, rebranded.

Time was when content marketing went by a different name: public relations. Not the kind of PR that involves getting a reporter to write your story in the newspaper. The kind where you, the PR person (today’s ‘content marketer’) would write up a news or feature story and then pay a wire service or syndicate to send it out to all of its subscribers, which were media outlets, businesses and government agencies. Often, those subscribers were potential clients and that was the reason you wanted to provide them with free, useful information. The thinking went that offering high quality information (today’s ‘content’) would get you on the radar screens of potential clients, generate good feeling and, perhaps, new business. From where I sit, that’s content marketing. The only difference is the means of distribution.

Fast forward to today. Using digital technology (yesterday’s wire service) we develop high quality content (yesterday’s feature story) and distribute it to our followers (yesterday’s subscribers). Sometimes we “boost” or “promote” our content through Facebook or Twitter (yesterday’s syndicates). Bottom line: The craft of public relations is alive and well. It’s just been rebranded.