Top U.S. toy maker, the IIlinois-based ERTL company, is dropping British right-wing commentator Christopher Monckton, following revelations by OutRage! that he has advocated that everyone with HIV should be quarantined "compulsorily, immediately and permanently" (American Spectator, January 1987).
Monckton is the designer of ERTL's new puzzle game, Eternity, which is expected to net the company over £ 10 million in sales. It was due to be launched in the U.S. next week, and Monckton was expected to attend the glitzy launch event in New York. That event may now be postponed or cancelled.
"We will be making (sic) steps to have no further dealings with respect to the promotion and marketing of the puzzle utilising Christopher Monckton", wrote Martin Richards, ERTL's Director of Marketing in Britain. He was responding to inquiries from journalist Matthew Christian of the London gay newspaper Axiom News.
ERTL say they agreed to manufacture and market Monckton's money-spinning game without realising that he had proposed the "isolation" of up to 3 million Americans and 30,000 Britons with HIV.
"We were unaware of Christopher Monckton's reported beliefs", Richards told Axiom News. "These are not the views of our company who (sic) prides itself on being an equal opportunities employer."
ERTL are still, at this stage, refusing to cancel their contract with Monckton.
"ERTL's decision to dump Monckton from its promotional campaigns is good news. But so long as his contract stands, Monckton will continue to make millions", said Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay rights group, OutRage!, which is spearheading the campaign. "It is unacceptable for ERTL to profit from someone who wants all people with HIV incarcerated for the rest of their lives."
"Although ERTL claims it cannot revoke its deal with Monckton, company contracts normally have get-out clauses that allow termination if a signatory says or does things that bring the company into disrepute. ERTL should invoke that clause to cancel its deal with Monckton."
"The Bank of Scotland made similar pleas that it was unable to pull out of its contract with right-wing U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson. However, as soon as the campaign against Robertson became high-profile and effective, the Bank of Scotland found a way of ditching him. We hope ERTL will follow suit", said Tatchell.
Meanwhile, mystery and confusion surround Christopher Monckton. According to ERTL: "We have a contractual agreement between ourselves and Yearfarm Trading & Investments Limited, not Christopher Monckton".
At Companies House, Yearfarm is not listed. It does not exist, according to their records. When asked by Private Eye magazine where Yearfarm was based, and for a contact name and phone number, both ERTL and Monckton refused to comment. Monckton also declined to say whether Yearfarm was his company and whether he held shares or directorships in Yearfarm.
Monckton claims that Peter Tatchell and OutRage! have been reported to Exeter CID with a view to prosecution. But Exeter police told Private Eye they have no knowledge of any complaint, and no record of any criminal investigation.
Monckton denies being homophobic. Yet he has boasted that "what homosexuals do to each other ... is wildly unnatural and repulsive in the extreme" (as reported in Private Eye, 4 December 1992).
"While ERTL maintains its association with Monckton, the OutRage! campaign will continue. We are publicising our campaign with AIDS, gay and human rights groups across the United States. ERTL and other companies need to be reminded that bigotry is unethical and bad for business", said Tatchell.
OutRage! has circulated details to U.S. chapters of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, and to the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the People With AIDS Coalition.
Monckton's repressive views are wildly out of step with government, medical and human rights opinion. The only organisations that share his solution to the AIDS crisis are fascist and neo-Nazi groups.
The Ertl Company
P.O. Box 500
Dyersville, IA 52040-0500, USA.
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