The internet can be a great place for spreading ideas and communicating with one another. It also can be a place where horrible ideas and beliefs can spread. Recently Governor Mike Pence of Indiana passed a law allowing business owners to refuse service based on their religious beliefs (why do we even need a law for this?). Needless to say their has been severe backlash. On Twitter the hashtag #BoycottIndiana was trending. Those calling for a boycott of Indiana are misguided in their beliefs for multiple reasons.
First off while arguing for the (nonexistent) rights of the consumer, particularly those in the LGBT community, they ignore the right of the business owner. Particularly their right to associate with whom they chose. The right to freely associate is not just one provided to us by our Constitution but it is a human right. No human should be forced to associate with another human he or she does not wish to. We would never force the Jewish baker to associate with the anti-Semitic customer; the African American photographer to associate with the racist customers. Why does the freedom to associate end when it comes to the LGBT community?
If we really want to bring forth a tolerant environment then the route of more economic freedom should be welcomed by the the opponents to the law instead of being opposed. As with many other instances the solution to our problems is not goverment coersion but freedom. A study by economists Niclas Berggren and Therese Nilsson finds that “Regression analysis of up to 65 countries reveals that economic freedom is positively related to tolerance towards homosexuals, especially in the longer run, while tolerance towards people of a different race and a willingness to teach kids tolerance are not strongly affected by how free markets are. Stable monetary policy and outcomes is the area of economic freedom most consistently associated with greater tolerance, but the quality of the legal system seems to matter as well. We furthermore find indications of a causal relationship and of social trust playing a role as a mechanism in the relationship between economic freedom and tolerance and as an important catalyst: the more trust in society, the more positive the effect of economic freedom on tolerance.” Another study, also by Niclas Berggren and Therese Nilsson, find that “by looking at the effect of changes in economic freedom (i.e., lower government expenditures, lower taxes and more modest regulation) on tolerance in one of the most market-oriented countries, the United States. In comparing U.S. states, we find that an increase in the willingness to let atheists and homosexuals speak, keep books in libraries and teach college students is, overall, positively related to preceding increases in economic freedom, especially lower taxes. We suggest, as one explanation, that a greater scope for voluntary transactions and private usage of incomes and wealth creates more meetings that increase understanding for people different than oneself – or at least for the value of letting people different than oneself have their say. In contrast, the positive association for tolerance towards racists only applies to speech and books, not to teaching, which may indicate that when it comes to educating the young, (in)tolerance attitudes towards racists are more fixed”
Lastly the hypocrisy should be noted. As Jon Gabriel on twitter tweeted “The #BoycottIndiana folks are objectively pro-discrimination. They just prefer you to discriminate against Group A instead of Group B.”
The worst part of the #boycottindiana campaign is the unintended consequences it will have on LGBT business owners, customers and LGBT allied bossiness and customers via the loss of business.
If you care about this cause then promote your ideas and beliefs through voluntary means, not by government force. Do not shop at businesses that discriminate, bring your money to those who serve everyone. As the USA Today noted “Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle said he will cancel the company’s plans for a $40 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters because of his opposition to RFRA. Soon after Pence signed the bill, Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter that he would no longer send employees or customers to Indiana.” Businesses can purchase stickers from Openforservice.org letting their customers know that they do not discriminate. Free and non governmental solutions do not exist. Do not tread on the rights of others. Solve problems you believe exist with peaceful and free methods.