Condemning the obviously atrocious is a self-serving waste of time

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Advocacy and religious groups have rushed to condemn Copenhagen, Charlie Hebdo and Chapel Hill using rehashed boilerplates of their mission statements. Absent new information or productive solutions, these generic missives amount to self-serving press releases unworthy of our time.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Wow,Mr.Pellot;thank you! I feel the same way when these meaningless”condemnations”are issued.Fine,you condemn the atrocity,attacks on the innocent,vicious murders blah, blah blah, …And?How about a plan of action to put an end to them,if that’s even possible?

  • Stefanie Chernow

    For once I have to respectfully disagree! There are sometimes in life that you know words won’t make the situation better, but not saying anything is worse. Here’s my analogy: let’s say your grandma died, nothing anyone could say would bring her back or really make the situation better but to say nothing with the underlying assumption that “old people dying is just part of life and your grandma isn’t the first one to kick the bucket” is isolating. I could see for victims of terrorism crimes the outpour of support would mean more than maybe the general public at large. Maybe a better phrase would be “we regret the events” rather than “we condemn” which comes off as showing empathy rather than being self serving, but I still think the sentiment of solidarity is there. Maybe it isn’t incredibly helpful, but it isn’t harmful either.

    Anyways, always a fan of your column, keep up the good work!

  • Brian Pellot

    Thanks for your comment and kind words, Stefanie. Hope we can discuss this one in person soon!

  • Betty Clermont

    THANK YOU!!! So happy someone finally said it. Yes, just an opportunity for free publicity.

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  • Patty T.

    I have to also respectfully disagree, Brian. You say, “Don’t just go on record because you think it’s expected of you” and “Some things go without saying.”

    When something terrible happens, any organization that has the slightest connection to even the most trivial part of that event is expected to publicly comment. Not meeting the expectations of the public is very risky. And, because of the immediacy of the internet, they are expected to comment NOW! The longer it takes to post a comment, the more the buzz on the internet starts growing. “Such-n-such org hasn’t even commented on the event yet! Egads, they must think this horrible thing is okay!” Silence is always considered to be consent. Even though a human rights organization believes it should go without saying that they are against human rights violations, the public will not stand for it going without saying. A silent organization will be condemned for their silence immediately. Once some troll posts a negative comment about an organization, it will live on and be repeated forever – no matter how much proof there is to refute it.

    As a writer, you should understand that there isn’t always a great, powerful, and purposeful essay at the tip of your fingers. So what is an organization to do NOW, in the first moments after the terrible event? Hire several writers and hope that one of them can knock it out of the park within the next thirty minutes? It would be great if the public would accept the “CONDEMNED” stamp as a signal that the organization will comment at some later point with something more meaningful. Perhaps it will be after they have a chance to stop working on what they already work on, have a meeting (or three), decide if the programs in place sufficiently address such events, create a plan of action if needed, raise the needed funds, or hire the right people, then let the public know how it will respond to said terrible event.

    In reality, “some things go without saying” just doesn’t work in the internet age. The critics and conspiracy theorists are just too darn loud. I suspect that organizations would rather not waste their time (or yours) by having to say what should go without saying. But that is the reality of public expectations. Perhaps you should be complaining to the media outlets and bloggers who post them over and over. That’s who is reporting these bland statements as “news” – even as top stories – only to waste your time. Let the organizations make the comment & get back to work.

  • Disagree. Politicians notice responses. Take for example the Mississippi lawmaker who said all the blacks in his area are on food stamps. An obvious ( to me) lie. I think it’s important to comment on the obvious. Many people may actually trust what he says. this. Social media can rack up a lot of buzz. He later apologized. It was stupid, it was good to call him on it.