By the time I get to Arizona: My one-man boycott of the Grand Canyon State

arizona welcome sign

“I think we need a new time zone in this country, and just let these couple of nonsense states make it 1950 again.”

“I am okay with Arizona building a border fence as long as it surrounds the entire state.”

-Random online persons

I don’t remember exactly when I decided to undertake a one-man boycott of the state of Arizona. Was it after they passed the most draconian anti-immigrant bill in our nation’s history? Was it after their crazy governor wagged her finger in the president’s face?

Perhaps it was after hearing about the state senator who beat up his girlfriend but couldn’t be arrested because lawmakers in the state receive immunity while the legislature is in session. Seriously!

Or it might have been after reading all the endless stories about “America’s worst sheriff,” Joe Arpaio, a man so batshit crazy he’s still setting up committees (using taxpayer money, of course) to investigate whether President Obama’s birth certificate is real.

Wait, I think the final straw might have been hearing that the state passed a law in which life is defined as beginning two weeks before conception. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one. Regardless of how lawmakers feel about that particular issue, they can’t just go around creating nonsense laws in response.

Or maybe it was the secretly gay candidate for Congress who threatened to deport his Mexican lover if the guy revealed their affair. Blackmail, ethnic discrimination, and abuse of power all wrapped up together. How cute!

Then again, it might have been the bill that banned Mexican-American studies in high schools. Why in the world would they do such a thing? Because those classes are un-American. Or something. They even considered banning similar cultural classes in universities across the state. Because we wouldn’t want our college graduates to be armed with knowledge about other cultures!

Every state has problems, yes. But Arizona is absolutely looney tunes. After hearing about all these stories in just the past couple years, I can’t in good conscience reward that state with my tourism dollars.

arizona road

Boycott banter

I generally don’t consider myself a boycott-y type of person, and I hesitate to even use the word, because that conjures up thoughts of angry protests against Chick-Fil-A, JC Penney, Starbucks, and the name-calling and online fights that have gone along with them.

I’m not militantly anti-Arizona and I don’t care if anybody wants to travel there. I just won’t be going myself. As a consumer, I have a choice where to spend my money, and I’d prefer not to spend it in a state that seems intent on taking us back to the 18th century.

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Sadly, Arizona’s extremist leanings are not new. You may remember that in 1990, the NFL awarded Arizona its first Super Bowl. But voters that year actually rejected a law celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday, making Arizona the only state in the nation that didn’t acknowledge MLK Day. In response, the NFL yanked the Super Bowl and its hundreds of millions of dollars in business from the state, bringing nationwide shame and embarrassment to the Grand Canyon State.

Should I re-think my Arizona position?

My position might be unusual, but it’s not outrageous. Some Arizona residents suspected they would lose tourism money once these bills started passing.

I’m sure eventually I’ll change my mind. I also know there are lots of good people in the state who don’t support these heinous laws, and by no means should everyone who lives in Arizona be lumped in with these lawmakers. Then again, these people keep managing to get elected, so I have to assume they represent the beliefs of a significant percentage of Arizona’s residents.

The funny thing is, I’ve been reading so much about Arizona on travel blogs lately that my interest in visiting the state has been rekindled. The Grand Canyon is obviously gorgeous, and there’s so much to see and do throughout the state.

big rock arizona

Just today I was reading about Humphrey’s Peak, a 12,000-foot extinct volcano whose peak is in the tundra above the treeline. Tundra in Arizona! That’s really cool. But I won’t be climbing it anytime soon.

For now, I’m going to keep my tourism dollars in my pocket and head elsewhere.

Have you ever refused to visit a certain place on principle?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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24 Comments

  1. I don’t find anything strange about your boycott. We have lots of choices, and where we spend our money is one of the significant ways we can show our power in business and politics.

    It does amaze me that this kind of craziness and hatred exists in the US in such a concentrated form that it has effected an entire state. I wonder if they have had a lot of people moving out of the state… the ones that don’t buy into the crazy.

  2. Hi Scott, that’s a pretty powerful post. I’m familiar with all the crazy issues in AZ but this is the first time I heard about the “two week before conception” stuff. Sounds like they’re more uptight than the Vatican. I’m with you.I don’t blame you for being intolerant towards the AZ’s intolerance.

  3. I totally understand where you are coming from. Arizona brings some serious crazy to the table. The state is absolutely gorgeous, though. I lived in Flagstaff for a couple of months and that place is a liberal non-crazy bastion in a certifiable state. The north is not nearly as ridiculous as the rest of the state if you want to confine your tourism dollars. Also Tuscan is a great place, the only non-batshit crazy spot in the south.

  4. I don’t know if I think boycotts like this really work. I think the adage, You attract more bees with honey than vinegar is true! This doesn’t mean you have to be quiet either. So if you’re going to boycott Arizona then I guess there won’t be a single conservative spending time in Wacky California or how about all the people that visit India, the Middle East and more where they have huge human rights issues and treat women worse that sh*t? Where does it really end? I also think you don’t get to criticize until you live there. Have you actually read the legislation or asked people why they support certain issues? Maybe by visiting you could learn and then be in a better position to affect change.

    1. “Where does it end” is a good question. It just depends on the individual, what they choose to support and not support. I don’t think the California comparison is the same, since I don’t see this as a liberal vs. conservative issue. There are some extremely conservative states that I absolutely love (hello, Alaska!) This is more of a sane vs. insane issue. No other state comes close to matching the crazy coming out of Arizona these days.

      You raise a good point about foreign countries. I’d definitely think hard before going to places known for human rights violations, or at least research the issue to see what I can do to help.

  5. I’m Jewish, have no interest in Germany, ’nuff said…

    And while I have been to each a few times, I really feel gross in both FL and TX. I’ll never go to either again, if I can help it.

  6. With you on this one for sure, Scott. I wrote a post a little while back about why I won’t be going to North Carolina any time soon, but this is far more scathingly eloquent than mine was, in my opinion.

    I knew Arizona was kinda cuckoo when it came to immigration policies, but I had no idea that they were this absolutely batshit crazy. Seriously. Two weeks before conception…so what…does that make masturbation and periods technically illegal or something…I don’t get it. Head is hurting.

    1. Technically, yes they could be illegal. It would be hilarious to see someone attempt a prosecution on those grounds!

      North Carolina’s a tough one. I’m going there in October to visit a friend. It’s hard to say when a place has enough strikes to keep me away, but I generally like that state, recent ballot initiatives notwithstanding. We’ll see how I feel when I return.

  7. Really great to read this! I’m with you 100%. In fact once they passed that immigration law, I started to wonder if and when I’d bother to visit the state.

    It’s impossible to boycott everything you disagree with but picking and choosing battles makes sense. Really appreciate you writing about this!

    1. Yeah, you do have to pick and choose. I almost don’t feel like I chose this one. I would just feel awkward and uncomfortable going there at the moment, so I’ll go elsewhere for a while.

  8. I don’t live in the States and had no idea about all this. All I knew about was the landscape and the relatives I have there, who are wonderful and pro-diversity and equality. I loved-loved-loved my time in AZ and what you’re sharing here is infuriating, for a state and its officials to handle themselves in such a way. As I read your post, I kept thinking it can’t get any worse – and then it did.

    And I relate to your post, and to how it’s not easy when you keep reading great stuff about a destination. I have a great friend in Amsterdam, Holland, and I’ve found it seriously challenging for several years to decide to spend my tourism money there, when Amsterdam has no problem representing prostitution as a tourist attraction. And I hear there are some women there telling tourists how well some women have it in Amsterdam prostitution, but even if that was true, they don’t seem to share that most women who find themselves in prostitution usually come from a background of low-income and sexual abuse and start out when they’re minors – plus get sexually and physically abused in prostitution. My friend is important to me, so I will likely eventually have a layover there or combine it with a trip to Europe whenever that may happen, yet it hasn’t happened yet.

    1. Your Amsterdam story is a good comparison. If I had close friends in Arizona, I would probably want to visit them. Since I have no connection at all, that makes it easier to stay away.

  9. Hey Scott, I agree with you – I’ve long thought that a lot of goings-on in that state are just insane, from the governor, to that sheriff, to the crazy lawmakers – the state seems to be a haven for extremist, ultra-right wing looney tunes.

    The only problem is, the state is just so friggin’ beautiful. It would be so easy if we were talking about New Jersey (sorry Jersey readers, I just picked your state because I thought it would be a humorous comparison, no offense intended); it’d be like, “sure, boycott Jersey, I’m all in.” But fuck me, we’re talking about the Grand Canyon here. Route 66. And all sorts of other scenic bullshit I can’t think of at the moment. I couldn’t in good conscience boycott that. It would be like letting the wack-a-doodles win, and I’m not going to do that. Much as I also hate the idea of spending my tourism dollars in a place that seemingly hates immigrants, minorities, and anyone of other than a far-right persuasion, the state is just too damn beautiful.

    And therein lies the dilemma of which you speak.

      1. A real boycott *costs* the boycotter or whatever the word is something. The person who mentioned New Jersey helped make my point. You have zero, possibly less than zero, moral ground to stand on here if you only “boycott” things and/places you didn’t really care much about in the first place. To make real change happen, you have to occasionally be uncomfortable. Look at the incredible women who fought for my right to vote. They didn’t back down when threatened with actual prison time, which included the very painful forced (via a tube shoved into the mouth, hopefully finding the esophagus) feedings. I’m not trying to be rude or judgey, just some food for thought. If everyone who announced on their Facebook page that they were moving to Canada (Canada, btw, politely asks that we in the States stop that, and point to how much more difficult their emigration laws are in the first place :0)) or never drinking a Pepsi, even though they didn’t drink it in the first place, wanted to change something, it has to affect a bottom line, usually profits. And I can’t think off the top of my achy head, of the last time a Boycott was successful.

        1. I agree with all of this. None of it contradicts anything I said. I specifically said I wasn’t calling for a boycott. It was just a personal decision for me, and me alone, not to visit. Others should do whatever they like.

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