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It’s Probably Time You Re-Think SXSW

PR agencies are urging clients to avoid the party in the wake of Texas’ new abortion law.

By Paul Marszalek

As the Texas state legislature puts a $10,000 vigilante bounty on the heads of women, you may want to think about how it might look if you’re seen partying down there.

In short, maybe it’s not really a good look for you and your brand. That’s the advice of a chorus of PR agencies who set up those huge product launches and parties at SXSW.

Veterans of SXSW know that this event jumped the shark some time ago, and is of little importance to the music discovery community. So it’s surprising to see giddy social media posts from industry types who are locking in their hotel reservations.

It’s a dilemma: One hand, it’s a great party that we can write off as a business expense, and we haven’t slammed tequila shots together in two years.

On the other hand, the party happens in a state that, in the great tradition of East Germany’s Stasi or broad McCarthyism, encourages people to turn in their neighbors, specifically their female neighbors, if they suspect somehow, that she’s gotten an abortion beyond week six of conception.

Oh, and they can turn in her doctor, her friend who drove her to the procedure, and just about any other “co-conspirator.”

Hmmm. Tough call.

Note that we’re not even throwing in Texas’ fresh new regressive voting laws or their brand new open carry handgun law – the one that no longer requires handgun owners to have a license or training.

Look, Texans can do what they want, I’m completely cool with the idea of self-determination and states’ rights. But that doesn’t mean everyoneone has to enable it.

If you find yourself engaging in armchair activism by “liking” those “Handmaid’s Tale” memes, but then go party at SX, it’s time for a re-think.

There will inevitably be an argument that skipping SXSW will only hurt small business in liberal Austin.

Perhaps, but it will also send a message to currently silent big business like Sheraton, the Fairmont, American Airlines, and Texas-based AT&T – the company that, in 2020, gave $300,000 to the very lawmakers who sponsored the law.

Money talks.

The good news is that you don’t have to live in Texas to vote against this insidious, discriminatory law. You can vote with your credit card every single hour of every single day. And just like in the voting booth, no one has to know.

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