LESLIE CRISS: Company courageously continues course, keeps comedienne

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
– Dr. Seuss

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
– Alan Watts
People can change. Minds can open. Hearts can soften.

I’ve always held fiercely to that belief, even when it’s seemed nothing but naive.
But recently a large corporation based in Plano, Texas, has become living proof that growth and change are always possible. Even in corporate boardrooms. Even when money is involved.
JCPenney has asked Ellen DeGeneres, already the face and voice of Cover Girl, to be their spokeswoman.
Though many folks either don’t care one bit about this or are quite pleased with the idea, there are those who adamantly oppose JCPenney’s decision.
Why? Not because DeGeneres is funny or kind or adores animals or loves to dance. But because she is gay.
There’s at least one group that’s threatening to boycott JCPenney. One Million Moms posted on their blog that it was foolish of JCP to think hiring DeGeneres would help their business “when most of their customers are traditional families.”
What? How would one even begin to make that sort of determination? And what, exactly, is a traditional family these days?
Before the liberal label is lobbed, let me just say there is all manner of humanity who have tweeted and blogged and Facebooked their support for DeGeneres. Goodness gracious, even Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly called the boycott “a witch hunt.”
Anyway, the president of JCP, Michael Francis, said through a press release that his company shares the same fundamental values as Ellen DeGeneres. That would be values like honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, following the Golden Rule and reaching out to folks in need. Deplorable values, aren’t they?
JCPenney is not backing down. They are standing by DeGeneres and their decision designating her their delegate.
But let’s get back to the unwavering JCPenney.
Here’s a little history:
Back in 1997 when DeGeneres made the cover of “Time” and “The Ellen Show” was about to air “The Puppy Episode,” or the landmark coming-out episode, JCPenney canceled its advertising, pulled out its sponsorship of the show. They were not alone in bowing to pressure all those years ago from groups that threatened boycotts.
But thankfully, people can change.
JCPenney is all grown up, it seems. They’ve opened their corporate minds. They’ve evolved.
They’ve chosen to dance with diversity.
And they should be quite proud of themselves.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com