Government driven social marketing can turn around and change the law to make our alternative behaviour mandatory. We can attempt to use social marketing to gain compliance to our idea, or we can force behaviour through punishment. Switching to legislative enforcement when our social change campaigns fail to take a grip is cheating. It's saying that if you won't play nicely, we'll force you to play.
This note was posted on the social marketing list serve
as part of an exchange about ethics and social marketing. The writer’s point was that ‘going upstream’
to change the environment and policies has an inherent danger of moving out of
the realm of voluntary behavior change and into the world of coercive tactics –
thus, it is no longer marketing.
While many social change advocates look to regulatory and policy change as necessary tools in their toolbox, we should also be humble and wise in pulling them out. The larger point is to critically look at our marketing mix and strategies to assure ourselves (and others) that we have indeed done our best work at creating incentives and opportunities for people to choose alternative behaviors that fit into their everyday lives and are effectively promoted before taking this next [giant] step.
I was reminded of this comment while reading the LA Times:
In that spirit, the Christian Legal Society, an association
of judges and lawyers, has formed a national group to challenge tolerance
policies in federal court. Several nonprofit law firms — backed by major
ministries such as Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ — already
take on such cases for free.
The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they're labeled intolerant.
[Note to the reporter: your Freudian slip is showing.]
Now how a community of people who ostensibly believe in The Golden Rule decide that it’s appropriate to file lawsuits so they can be intolerant of others could make a case study in Cognitive Dissonance. And while I’m on the subject, Garry Wills noted in a Sunday op-ed piece in the NY Times: There is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian.