The Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show (ESS) is one of the biggest in the world. It is (or was) held in Pennsylvania, and had upward of 200,000 attendees each year. On January 18th, word was received that the management of ESS decided to change the show rules at (for major shows) the last minute. They decided the political climate was right to prohibit Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) from the show.
The response was immediate and massive, amplified by overwhelming grassroots support. Vendors bailed, even if it cost them thousands, in protest of this blatant politicization of the show. Cabela's, one of the main sponsors, bailed almost immediately. The spontaneous boycott snowballed. By yesterday a quarter of vendors and celebrities had bailed, and more were announcing by the hour. Reed Exhibitions' response was curious. They could have ended the boycott and saved the show very quickly by announcing that the decision was a local mistake, or a misunderstanding. They chose to do neither, promising a statement from day to day, while not delivering one, as the boycott gained momentum and grew gigantic.
Finally, a statement was released today, saying that the show was "postponed". In practice, for a major show, this means "canceled".
Here is their statement. I find it difficult to interpret it as anything other than a statement that they would rather anger the majority of their American customers rather than retract their last minute change of policy:
“Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event’s historical focus on the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families. In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests. This was intended simply as a product decision, of the type event organizers need to make every day.
“It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year’s show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.
“ESS has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.”
In effect, Reed Exhibitions would rather cancel the show than return to the status quo that existed before they made their inflammatory and political decision.
It appears that supporting the Obama regime's politics was more important to them than making money.
They are a large organization based in Europe. They manage over 400 shows a year, of which only 32 are in the United States. They appear to be on the "progressive" end of the political spectrum. While lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people often support armed self defence (Pink Pistols), separating them as a subgroup to be targeted for marketing is not indicative of a conservative organization. Reed Exibitions' issue of a press release on January 8th did just that.
Reed Exhibitions parent company, Reed Elsevier, announced that they would be exiting the Defense Exhibition business during the second half of 2007.
It remains to be seen if Reed Exhibitions will be retained by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to manage the Shot Show next year, as they did just two weeks ago.
I find the lack of media coverage amazing. We have everything necessary for a great news story. British company dabbles in American politics, perhaps trying to curry favor with the administration.
American grass roots response by boycott is immediate and massive. A huge show, with over 200,000 attendees is shut down because the Brits will not back down.
This in the middle (likely because of) some of the most hotly contested political issues in years.
Not a peep from the old media. Why is this not covered in the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR?
A cynical person would say that it is not covered because it hurts the Obama regimes' political agenda.