- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

David Hogg, one of the students from the Parkland, Florida, shooting incident who’s now gone punch-drunk on anti-gun juice, has set his sights, it seems, on companies with ties to firearms dollars, with a goal to figuratively disarm and decimate them — to get them to cut all ties with the firearms industry — and if they don’t, to be prepared to cough up some money.

It’s a shakedown style of First Amendment-ing. It’s what made Al Sharpton much of his money. Yes indeed, Hogg’s got the Sharpton flair.

Here’s what the young man’s been up to these past few days.

In a tweet about Publix grocery’s donations to a pro-NRA political candidate, he wrote: “I call on @Publix to donate double the money they gave to [Adam] Putman to the Stoneman Douglas Victims fund, $1,000,000. And never support an A rated NRA politician again.”

The “A rated NRA politician” is Florida gubernatorial hopeful Adam Putnam, a guy who’s boldly branded himself a “proud NRA sellout.”

But Publix isn’t the only company that’s given money to Putnam’s political run. According to campaign finance filings reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Walt Disney Co., has donated $842,442 to Putnam’s PAC since 2015; Florida Power & Light gave $587,060; U.S. Sugar Corp. donated $560,000.

Are these outlets next on Hogg’s hit list?

The pressure against Publix backfired, however.

Publix decided to stop donating to all political causes, both conservative and liberal — including outfits like Planned Parenthood and the YWCA.

Not to be slowed, Hogg has now set his eyes toward FedEx. Earlier this week, he retweeted a message from @GiffordsCourage, the Twitter group led by the shot congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, that praised changes in gun laws, post-Parkland.

Hogg’s add-on message: “The young people will win.”

Hogg then tweeted: “See you this summer. 1000 Ridgeway Loop Memphis, Tennessee.” And he quickly followed that with this: “That’s Fedex.”

And again, another tweet: “It’s ok. The young people will win.”

The young people will win their gun control demands — or businesses will face massive money-losing protests and demands to give big to gun control causes?

That’s the message all right. And it’s one championed, nay perfected, even, by Al Sharpton who spent years famously using his blackness, his National Action Network and his national platform to demand companies cater to his political will, or face the wrath of a “racism” label.

“How Sharpton gets paid to not cry ‘racism’ at corporations,” blasted one New York Post headline in 2015.

And this, from Catholic Online, that same year: “SHAKEDOWN SHARPTON: Corporations pay big bucks to Reverend Al Sharpton to avoid racism accusations.”

And this, from Sharpton’s own Twitter account this past February, apparently highlighting a quote from himself printed in the New York Daily News: “‘We need to target those companies that have not pulled back,’ said Rev. Al Sharpton at a National Action Network gathering on Saturday. ‘You better not spend a dime with the NRA or we won’t spend a dime with you.’”

It’s not that Hogg, or Sharpton, or any other American, for that matter, don’t have First Amendment rights to freely speak and petition for grievances.

It’s that their tactics — their listen-to-me-or-else style of protesting — come with massive price tags for their targets for causes that are barely this side of worthy, hardly in line with the spirit that guides this nation. They push pay-for-silence schemes, pure and simple. And worse, their “pay up so I’ll shut up” ways of protesting are cloaked in honorable First Amendment intents.

Companies facing these fires should stand strong against the extortion.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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