Godin On Marketing Tolerance

It’s a slow morning for vegan news, but Seth Godin has just posted something at his blog that I think is worth thinking about. His blog post today brings up the idea that tolerance and intolerance are both products of marketing. Not marketing in the manner that Oreos or Toyotas are promoted in television ads, but rather a subtle social marketing that takes many forms:

When someone stands up in front of a crowd at a political rally or in a church, they’re marketing. And when a Hollywood filmmaker turns someone of a particular race or sexual preference into an object of ridicule or contempt, that’s marketing too. Politicians market every time they speak up at a press conference.

When Michal Grzes, an elected representative in Poland stands up and criticizes a zoo for housing a gay elephant, he’s doing marketing as well. If you want a cheap laugh, all you need to do is make fun of the minority, treat them as lesser, or separate.

Godin then writes:

I’m surprised and delighted that online media is being used to market tolerance more than intolerance

And this got me thinking: are the recent enormous strides taken by both the gay and cannabis communities a product of the fact that the Internet is amplifying the power of individuals within these groups to better market their positions? Might it be that the Internet has enabled people from these groups to lift themselves out of society’s margins, and gain a clear and strong voice speaking a powerful argument?

More than ever before, gays and marijuana advocates use a variety of online tools to advance social tolerance towards their positions. Some of these online efforts are overt: such as orchestrating online campaigns. Others are more subtle: like responding with dignity to an idiotic homophobic YouTube comment.

Might it be that, without the Internet, and the greater possibilities it has given gays to speak up and be visible, the gay community would never have been able to pass same-sex marriage statutes in five states and counting?

So this brings me to online advocacy and veganism. Why is the animal rights movement currently not enjoying the explosive gains that are being achieved by gay rights and marijuana legalization advocates? My guess is that it comes down to this: when it is your rights that are being trampled, it’s natural to use the Internet in a variety of ways to speak up. And right now, speaking generally, animal advocates haven’t yet caught on to the wealth of activist opportunities that online activism opens up, when it comes to speaking up for animals.

This topic is one of my greatest interests, because I think the animal protection movement will grow by leaps and bounds once its members leverage the Internet the way other tolerance-advocacy groups are doing. I’ve devoted a chapter and appendix of my latest book to this topic, and I will doubtless consider it at greater length in the personal blog I started yesterday. Link.