March 28, 2015

For the Anti-Gay Indiana GOP, the Web Is a Harsh Mistress

It was with obvious glee two days ago that GOP Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana's new "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" -- in reality a law created to gladden the political voting hearts of closeted and outed racists, not to mention other right-wing lowlifes throughout the Hoosier State.

While written so broadly that it conveniently could be used to discriminate against any "minority" religious group, the true purpose of the legislation was never in question -- it was designed to provide a mechanism for treating LGBT persons as second-class citizens -- for example, to be denied entry to establishments at the whim of prejudiced prune heads.

Pence and his GOP minions apparently figured they had a real winner with the RFRA -- "Hell, our base racist voters will flock to us in droves," they must have thought.

But it's a funny thing about politicians these days. They usually like to make a lot of noise about being "Internet-savvy" -- but in reality their understanding of the Web and the two-edged sword of social media can be unimpressive in the extreme.

So seemingly just a few heartbeats after the RFRA was signed into law, we have the sickly amusing spectacle of its supporters expressing surprise that pretty much the entire world -- including major tech firms, sports leagues, and the vast power of social media -- has turned against them, with enormously expensive boycotts of Indiana rapidly being announced, and vastly more under consideration.

While the law's supporters hem and haw claiming that discrimination was not the purpose of the legislation, everyone knows that's a lie -- legalizing discrimination was precisely the reason for the law's enactment. Nor will Indiana politicians' protests that other states have seemingly similar laws on the books make a difference -- if anything those states may now come to regret the fuse that the Indiana GOP lit under this issue.

For as much as many politicians don't really understand the Internet at all, there's one thing they all certainly understand -- money. And the financial loss that can be foreseen from announced and future boycotts related to this issue could be staggering -- something to chill the hearts of politicians everywhere.

Particularly fascinating is the sense that Indiana's governor and cohorts in the abomination of RFRA appear to be genuinely surprised by the massive and rapid backlash.

Perhaps this is the result of spending so much time in racially and religiously intolerant "echo chambers" of Indiana state government.

But it's also likely to be an artifact of their inability to understand the power of the Web -- and of social media in particular -- to mobilize concerned persons around the country and the globe in ways that were unimaginable even a relatively few years ago.

Well, they're learning that lesson now.

Welcome to the 21st century, boys. We still may be waiting for those flying cars, but we've already got the Internet -- and the Net is far more powerful than a fleet of flying Ferraris.

You can take that to the bank -- whatever you have left after the boycotts, that is.


Posted by Lauren at March 28, 2015 12:43 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein