HOWTO Screw Some Evangelist Maggots Right In The Wallet
August 29, 2006 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Warren Ellis quoting someone else's blog: "What with the Washington State Supreme Court handing down its anti-gay-marriage decision several weeks ago and the ever-hearing more about attacks on reproductive rights down south, I’m feeling that the States is tripping a bit too merrily down the Handmaid’s path. This week, I found a way to strike back".
posted by Shanachie (132 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome!
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 8:13 AM on August 29, 2006


... Except for the fact that I somehow, inexplicably, still have qualms about actually doing something like this... even when it's aimed at these creeps.
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 8:16 AM on August 29, 2006


Hmm... why a link to Warren Ellis and not the original livejouranl post? Or to the The Stranger, where the livejournal poster seems to have got this from?
posted by Artw at 8:16 AM on August 29, 2006


These people are unpleasant, but nonetheless, isn't this basically stealing? I'm not sure about everyone else here, but I always thought that it's not ok to steal, even when the person is someone you don't like.
posted by unreason at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2006


Yeah, that seems odd to me too. Here's porphyre's LJ post.
posted by languagehat at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2006


The original article, for those not wishing to expose themselves to Warren Ellis or Livejournal.
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2006


(Responding to Artw.)
posted by languagehat at 8:21 AM on August 29, 2006


We have DVDs.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:21 AM on August 29, 2006


So totally cool. We don't like these people. Here's how to slash their tires.
posted by jfuller at 8:22 AM on August 29, 2006


I linked to Warren Ellis because it's where I saw it and I think it gives it a sense of scale. This idea is already spreading...etc...
posted by Shanachie at 8:22 AM on August 29, 2006


The bloated ego of Warren Ellis needs no additional feeding.
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on August 29, 2006


I don't covet one goddamn thing that they're offering.
posted by sciurus at 8:24 AM on August 29, 2006


They say it's a donation and not a sale. It's not like you're actively breaking into their premises and taking something involuntarily. They have to pack it up and ship it to you, knowing full well exactly what you did or didn't donate.

I'm not arguing that it's terribly ethical, and I wouldn't do it, even to these dismal human beings. But I don't think you can call it stealing.
posted by Malor at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2006


Argh! My earlier comment was responding to Artw's first comment. Just shut up for a minute, you people!

isn't this basically stealing?

No, it's not, by any definition. Stealing is taking someone else's property against their will or without their knowledge. Taking something that somebody is offering to all comers, hoping for a nice donation, is not stealing. If the somebody is a worthwhile and poor organization, it may not be very nice, but when the somebody is a bunch of well-heeled, vicious scumbags like these, it seems to me eminently justified. If they don't like your ordering it and not paying, they don't have to send it to you.
posted by languagehat at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2006


MrMoonPie writes "We have DVDs."

Exactly.
posted by OmieWise at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2006


A friend blogged this last week, and I still think what I thought then: Warren Ellis has found a way to prove that Christians are charitable and well-humored people. Way to go.

In a short period of time, we'll hear about how they're getting the message out to more people now than ever, and how Focus on the Family had their best prosletizing drive ever, and are thus more popular than ever.
posted by boo_radley at 8:26 AM on August 29, 2006


unreason writes "These people are unpleasant, but nonetheless, isn't this basically stealing?"

jfuller writes "We don't like these people. Here's how to slash their tires."

er, they are offering to send you items and have decided to make payment optional. I don't see how this equates "stealing" or "slashing tires".
posted by clevershark at 8:27 AM on August 29, 2006


unreason: ...isn't this basically stealing?

Hey, I'm giving away free stuff! But only to people who think exactly like I do. If you take my stuff and you don't think exactly like I do, that's stealing from me.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:27 AM on August 29, 2006


A twelve step program for dealing with your issues regarding Focus on the Family.
posted by caddis at 8:27 AM on August 29, 2006


And you're giving them a shipping address, and that's good because... ?
posted by cavalier at 8:29 AM on August 29, 2006


I looked all over the site, and can't find a single thing I want.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:29 AM on August 29, 2006


So if this goes according to plan, Focus on the Family will end up with (a) a little less money, and (b) a new target to rail against and shore up the persecution mentality of its base. Sounds great!
posted by brain_drain at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2006


Next up: free boxes from the post office.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2006


I wouldn't consider it stealing.

Think about when the Humane Society sends you mailing labels or umbrellas or t-shirts. The trick there is that they've given you something and unconsciously you now feel obligated to give something back to them. Many charitable organizations do this because it is proven to work.

In many aspects, this is just a variation on that theme. If you keep those mailing labels or other free crap, you're not stealing, they gave it to you. The only issue here is if they make it available for free, is it stealing if you take it? I say no. If I can take free samples in a grocery store, get $50 for a test drive of a car or get a free air fare for listening to a time share pitch, this is certainly OK. The intent is that they will get something out of me, so everyone wins. This is no different.

Now there is a problem if there's a statement like the USPS, FEDEX and UPS sites have about their packing supplies. If the site specifically prohibits this sort of activity, then you are stealing. Shame on you. Otherwise, do as your conscience dictates.
posted by BeReasonable at 8:31 AM on August 29, 2006


Yeah, this doesn't really hurt the bastards -- they've got more than enough funding to begin with, and more than enough means to compensate for any uptick in orders. It's not like there's a finite number of bullshit antigay books that FotF can distribute and this scheme actually helps keep them out of the hands of people who actually buy this swill.
posted by scody at 8:31 AM on August 29, 2006


I guess there's no irony lost in Metafilter's denizens all trying desperately to rationalize stealing a copy of Les Misérables on CD...

Have no fear of robbers or murderers. They are external dangers, petty dangers. We should fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices the real murderers...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2006


Yawn. This is no different than ye olde trick of mailing one of those "postage paid" business-reply envelopes back to the RNC or whatever politcal org you hate, stuffed with pennies or a heavy rock (causing them to spend extra $ on return postage). My hippie mother-in-law used to do this back in the radical 70s. It was about as effective at then as it is now. (Think about how much bulk postage and bulk DVDs/books cost. Why not donate that $1.75 to Planned Parenthood and take a nap for the half hour you just wasted?)

(Or buy a cup of delicious Free Trade coffee and waste a half hour on MeFi...)
posted by turducken at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2006


Is it "stealing" when I got to the Museum and give them $2 when the suggested donation is $15? No. It's a system set up to make sure that their service is provided to all who want it, regardless of economic background.

That applies even if the only reason I am going to the museum to pick up guys.
posted by hermitosis at 8:40 AM on August 29, 2006


This made the rounds of my office last week - I have qualms about the environmental impact of all these people getting DVDs and books shipped to them (if this actually builds any momentum)... but that's just me.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:42 AM on August 29, 2006


I have to wonder if the long-term effects of doing this might run counter to what the author intended. FOTF is a well-connected, well-funded organization. Requesting $100 worth of stuff might take money out of their hands in the short-term but who knows if that $100 materials request doesn't work into a positive feedback loop.

1. I request $100 in tapes, CDs, etc and donate $0
2. At the end of the quarter/yr, FOTF publishes a report on activities and I get added to a list of supporters and my $100 materials request becomes part of a request for more funding due to "increased demand" and "diminished funds" from FOTF's financial contributors
3. FOTF gets $200 in contributions from its supporters in direct equivalent to my request for $100 in materials

In other words, I could easily see how a request for materials could be interpreted as a sign of support for the organization, the opposite of what The Stranger author was trying to achieve.
posted by junesix at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2006


"I looked all over the site, and can't find a single thing I want.
posted by MrMoonPie"

I'm gonna give it a try, see if there's anything I can find.
posted by PossumCowboy at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2006


Has anyone confirmed that you don't get a billing invoice or other such hassle?
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:52 AM on August 29, 2006


Similar to what turducken said, common sense would indicate that the $100 limit wasn't in place by accident. If FOTF was really budget-conscious, they would have set it up so you could only request say a prepackaged $5 stack of materials. $100 just seems to indicate that they have a near-unlimited budget and no amount of ordering could really hurt it.
posted by junesix at 8:55 AM on August 29, 2006


I guess I'll find out :)
posted by hermitosis at 8:55 AM on August 29, 2006


It is NOT stealing. But what it may do is invite similar retaliatory "dirty trick" attacks.

But conspiring to deny people their basic human rights is about as nasty a dirty trick as you can do. So fuck 'em.

O-Elvis:This made the rounds of my office last week - I have qualms about the environmental impact of all these people getting DVDs and books shipped to them (if this actually builds any momentum)... but that's just me.

Oh. Jeeez. You can't be serious? I'm all for being sensitive and shit. But c'mon. You must therefore have qualms about people being held as third class citizens and denied their rights? Right? So. Whattya DO about it?

Elvis's quote is symptomatic of why the left in the US get's frigg'n crushed every goddamned election. And, if it ever comes down to it, why we will be herded into camps.

There comes a time when your back is to the wall and it's time to fight. Is it time yet?
posted by tkchrist at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2006


Blazecock Pileon : "I guess there's no irony lost in Metafilter's denizens all trying desperately to rationalize stealing a copy of Les Misérables on CD..."

Taking free things without paying isn't stealing. We're not trying to rationalize stealing, because there's no stealing happening to rationalize.

There may be problems with this (it's ineffective, it provides justification for future increased funding requests, it provides a foundation with which to brag about their number of supporters), but stealing isn't one of them.
posted by Bugbread at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2006


also, be ready for when FoF comes out with "LOL, mean secularites abusing us :("
posted by boo_radley at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2006


Whoever's shipping addresses are being used for this, will be doomed to an endless barrage of FOTF literature and mailouts for the rest of eternity.

Congrats... you really only screwed your friends with this one.
posted by BobFrapples at 8:58 AM on August 29, 2006


Next up: free boxes from the post office.

Actually, that is illegal. (But damned if I can't find a link right now....)
posted by inigo2 at 8:59 AM on August 29, 2006


Junesix has it. That's how these organizations work. Believe me, they're never going to go bankrupt from filling too many orders -- all that does is feed the cycle: "Our message is spreading farther than ever -- SEND MORE MONEY." And that's exactly what happens. In fact, that's the history of these groups in a nutshell -- the far right's not gained its power and funding by pinching pennies when it comes to postage.

This little prank accomplishes nothing at best except a momentary feeling of "gotcha!", and at worse actually helps fuel their fire.
posted by scody at 8:59 AM on August 29, 2006


Feel free to steal from your political enemies. After all, evangelicals aren't human. Next, Warren Ellis can build a gulag and starve them to death too!
posted by Yakuman at 9:01 AM on August 29, 2006


also, be ready for when FoF comes out with "LOL, mean secularites abusing us :("

I've seen some of this as a response already in the letter pages of The Stranger. They're very careful to portray it as an attack on Christianity in general, rather than on the hate organization that is FoF.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2006


It's almost-certainly exploitative, debatable if it's stealing.

The ethics of it are a whole other matter, depends on your politics, morality, and sense of fair play, I guess.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:05 AM on August 29, 2006


Taking free things without paying isn't stealing. We're not trying to rationalize stealing, because there's no stealing happening to rationalize.

By the letter of the law, no. By the spirit, well, it's kinda asinine.

Gee, what's going to get gay marriage legal in this country:

A. Electing politicians sympathetic to GLBT causes and urging them to pass laws through calls, letters, and town meetings

B. Working with advocacy groups and PACs to petition the government and elect politicians sympathetic to GLBT causes

C. Conducting a passive resistance protest movement in American cities to campaign for gay marriage

D. Sending in 10,000 requests to FotF asking for free stuff with "suggested donation" but then not donating, clearly showing them that they are in the wrong and should call for Adam and Steve to get married in the Air Force Chapel this instant

If you answer "D", then I have a bag of flaming poop right here for you to put on Kim Jong-Il's doorstep, because that's all that stands between us and a nuclear-armed PRNK!
posted by dw at 9:06 AM on August 29, 2006


I guess taking things that you don't really want and can't really use isn't stealing. But I can't see it justifiable either.
posted by klarck at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2006


I once got a UNITE (textile union) hat for free without donating since Tom Morello always wore one and I wanted to be cool.

Somehow I manage to sleep at night.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:09 AM on August 29, 2006


This little prank accomplishes nothing at best except a momentary feeling of "gotcha!", and at worse actually helps fuel their fire.

It does accomplish something. Look. I worked for Direct MArketing agencies for years doing fulfillment projects. All the materials they have are of limited pre-purchased stock.

Sure. You won't cost them any more because the money to buy, ship and plan for any given promotion is spent already. THAT's how this works.

BUT. You will prevent one or two mouth breathers who want a book or video from getting this shit and then sending in materials requests for more. You WILL clog the system and prevent the target from potentially donating.

These kinds of dirty tricks are done to private companies all the time on fulfillment Direct Mail. And it causes huge headaches.

We did one for Tektronix in the 1990's and it backfired because of some loophole in the ordering process and thousands of T-shirts disappeared to Russia. It crippled the direct budget and planning for nearly a year.
posted by tkchrist at 9:09 AM on August 29, 2006


Whoever's shipping addresses are being used for this, will be doomed to an endless barrage of FOTF literature and mailouts for the rest of eternity.

Actually, I don't mind in the least.

It's the same reason I'm on the American Family Association's email list. Getting their emails is a constant reminder to me how hard people are working to deliberately diminish the quality of my life, and a motivation to counter it. Also, by knowing exactly what companies and VIP's they are urging me to write to, I can send letters of my own-- real letters, not mass-produced semi-literate spam ones.

At worst, I'll get junk mail that I can just recycle-- just like I'll be doing with the books I get, after I've learned everything I can about what the unwashed masses are being told to do to stamp out teh ghey in their miserable children.
posted by hermitosis at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2006


If you answer "D", then I have a bag of flaming poop right here for you to put on Kim Jong-Il's doorstep, because that's all that stands between us and a nuclear-armed PRNK!

False dichotomy. The answer is:

E. ALL of the above.
posted by tkchrist at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2006


Not even worth stealin'.
posted by Mister_A at 9:15 AM on August 29, 2006


They've got a 19-CD set of a radio dramatization of the Chronicles of Narnia. Tell me that's not cool.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:15 AM on August 29, 2006


Man, you guys sure showed them! Giving them your addresses and conning them out of those promotional materials they were freely giving away!

Next up: "stealing" Bibles from hotel rooms.
posted by hugsnkisses at 9:18 AM on August 29, 2006


Taking free things without paying isn't stealing. We're not trying to rationalize stealing, because there's no stealing happening to rationalize.

I'll have to disagree, mainly because of the plain-as-day wording of this post, comments, and the commentary in the original links. The designation of "free" for these items is not for this audience, and — yes — that does certainly matter as far as figuring out the compass point of morality.

The intent here is not to get free things, but to have a detrimental effect on someone else's bottom line — which is fine, but let's call it what it is, instead of rationalizing it by dehumanizing the enemy.

To nitpick further, you're fooling yourself if you think this really hurts Dobson's group all that much. Claiming federal tax deductions on donated goods means a non-zero portion of each dollar comes out of the pocket of every American citizen. Basically, if you pay US federal taxes and do this stuff, you're stealing from me, yourself, and your neightbors, even if you don't know it, choose not to acknowledge it, or rationalize it based on the fact that Dobson is involved.

The bottom line for me is that, as a gay man and American taxpayer, I probably have numerous more reasons to find Dobson and his ilk distasteful than most. But I also believe that reducing myself to his level would make me just as bad — worse, because I would be consciously choosing to degrade my morals to fight back in such a way that I'm stealing from other folks who have been victimized by Dobson.

Something to think about, perhaps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on August 29, 2006


There comes a time when your back is to the wall and it's time to fight. Is it time yet?

It is time! Time to fight! Let us begin by ordering several pamphlets and Narnia DVDs, inflicting losses of hundreds, or perhaps even THOUSANDS, of dollars! An organization that receives over $100 million in annual donations will surely change their ways to avoid this! Once this operation is complete, we will move to our devastating Phase Two: HUMOROUS GIFS! By the time we're done, Focus on the Family will be either mildly annoyed or stronger than ever! TO BATTLE, MY FRIENDS!
posted by brain_drain at 9:23 AM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


I requested a Chronicles of Narnia DVD and the audio CD set a couple of weeks ago - and haven't gotten anything yet. Has anyone actually *received* their semi-ill-gotten-gains from FOTF yet?
posted by mrbill at 9:26 AM on August 29, 2006


As a taxpayer, then, aren't you merely entitled to your share of their junk?
posted by hermitosis at 9:27 AM on August 29, 2006


As a taxpayer, then, aren't you merely entitled to your share of their junk?

In that case, put me down for a Leviticus beach towel.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2006


This post should be retitled “HOWTO Continually Perpetuate Mutual Mistrust”… let’s just keep feeding the vicious cycle, everyone. It’s as hungry as ever.
posted by heylight at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2006


In that case, put me down for a Leviticus beach towel.

Oooo, if only!
posted by hermitosis at 9:34 AM on August 29, 2006


I can't believe all this hand-wringing over whether sticking it to FOTF is ethical. No wonder they're making such vast strides in the culture wars.
posted by treepour at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2006 [2 favorites]


When I first came across this, I thought, "wow, that's cool, let's get mediocre media for free by lying!" ... It just doesn't sit right with me. Truth and information is a much better way to combat other people's misinformation. This isn't going to do anything except piss everyone off and make lefty liberal types look exactly like the immoral assholes we're accused of being.

Of course, maybe if I'd been born in the US I'd feel more strongly about FotF. ... I don't know.
posted by blacklite at 9:41 AM on August 29, 2006


All the materials they have are of limited pre-purchased stock.

To wit, the Chronicles of Narnia DVD's appear to be gone.
posted by aaronetc at 9:47 AM on August 29, 2006


Truth and information is a much better way to combat other people's misinformation.

Yeah, how's that working out so far?
posted by aaronetc at 9:49 AM on August 29, 2006


Let's go to Focus on the Family's house and ring their doorbell and then run away.
posted by jefbla at 9:49 AM on August 29, 2006


I am the Campus Minister for the local Unitarian Universalist Church. For those unfamiliar, the UU Church has ordained many gay and lesbian ministers, and has been performing (non legally-binding according to most state laws) marriage ceremonies for gay couples for quite awhile. I have ordered $97 worth of free materials from Focus on the Family to use in my campus ministry as resource materials. Thanks, Shanachie.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2006


Simply select "Enter other total amount" and enter 0.00 as the amount you would like to pay. (Don't put in a dollar sign or it will ask you for credit-card information!)

To me, this just sounds like someone exploiting a dumb bug in their e-commerce software. As much as I dislike these sanctimonious dicks, there's nothing noble about that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2006


Questions:

i) Wouldn't FoTF be able to write off at least part of the cost of the free materials? The evil scammer in me suspects that if one were to order stuff and donate $0, there's a system or loophole that would let them defray a huge chunk of the cost.

ii) Who's to say that FoTF paid anyone for this stuff? Maybe the original manufacturers write off these items as donated materials or PR expenses, or they've recieved a bare minimum payment because the association with FoTF pays off in terms of volume moved (Like Wal-Mart's suppliers).

iii) If anyone knows a rip off, it's Warren Ellis. Shut up and finish Planetary already.

iv) Would a nine month old enjoy a Veggie Tales movie?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2006


Focus on the Family has done enough to cause me unease and discomfort in my life, I don't need to help them make it worse by sending that crappy Narnia movie to my home.
posted by phearlez at 9:58 AM on August 29, 2006


========================================================================
Item Item Item Suggested
Code Description Qty Donation Donation
========================================================================
Shipping to: Charity Elternteil, 416 W Mifflin St, Madison, WI, 53703
------------------------------------------------------------------------
F00487K The Family Narnia Bundle 1 52.00 52.00
Total shipped to Charity Elternteil: $ 52.00

....that's my receipt. The address is searchable on local.google.com, if you're interested. "Elternteil" is what online translation tools told me was German for "parent."
posted by thanotopsis at 10:13 AM on August 29, 2006


Would a nine month old enjoy a Veggie Tales movie?

Probably not. They're aimed at early grade school kids (5-7), so to a 2 year old (like mine) they're just a bunch of Jesus lovin' colored shapes, vs. her active participation in Dora and Blue.

And anyway, They of the They Institute... OK, two profs in a university I may or may not work at in a large West Coast city have done a bunch of research showing that kids under 2 probably shouldn't be watching TV because there's not a lot out there aimed at them. They just wrote a book about it; I interviewed them about it. Fascinating stuff.
posted by dw at 10:13 AM on August 29, 2006


Yeah, how's that working out so far?

Right, let's make shit up and lie. Then people will really start understanding science and evolution and everything. Surely, sabotaging the finances of organizations you disagree with is not a slippery slope at all, and we'll all have more intelligent conversations because three evangelical christians with nothing better to do were stopped from getting their free copy of Narnia.

This is all such pat-ourselves-on-the-back masturbatory bullshit. I'm sorry.
posted by blacklite at 10:16 AM on August 29, 2006


Junesix, et al:

The obvious solution here is to sell the stuff on eBay and donate the proceeds to the ACLU.
posted by stemlot at 10:22 AM on August 29, 2006


Surely, sabotaging the finances of organizations you disagree with is not a slippery slope at all

You're so right -- next thing you know we'll all be calling their 800 number just to rack up small but numerous phone charges on their bill. After that we'll call in Matthew Broderick to hack into their computer system and give all their employees extra vacation days. It's anarchy!
posted by aaronetc at 10:30 AM on August 29, 2006


Well, either it's inconsequential, in which case don't you have something better to do with your time? Or it is consequential and will have a real impact, and you'll get away with it, in which case why not do something bigger next time? I'm not saying you're going to go anthrax their pets, I just think this is dumb and doesn't achieve anything.
posted by blacklite at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2006


Next, Warren Ellis can build a gulag and starve them to death too!

I tried to starve Jerry Falwell once. It didn't work. He just grew fatter and fatter feeding on hysteria and the misery of those unlike him. I actually witnessed him outgrowing the pants he was wearing while shouting about "gay, rapist telletubbies from hell." I've been in therapy ever since.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:37 AM on August 29, 2006


Anthrax is not a verb.
posted by boo_radley at 10:37 AM on August 29, 2006


« writes 'Anthrax is not a verb.'
Is prescriptivise a verb?
posted by signal at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2006


The bird is the word.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2006


I have to admit, I do like the idea of selling the stuff on eBay, and donating proceeds to GLBT groups.
posted by das_2099 at 10:47 AM on August 29, 2006


Yes, when dealing with a group whose stock and trade is hate with a thin veneer of religion, treating them with respect is sure to work!

And while we're at it, why be so hard on pogroms and other anti-semitic groups? We merely have a difference of opinion with them on the subject of Jewish people!
posted by clevershark at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2006


blacklite writes "Well, either it's inconsequential, in which case don't you have something better to do with your time? Or it is consequential and will have a real impact, and you'll get away with it, in which case why not do something bigger next time?"

What's most interesting about your second sentence is that it's so very very conservative. It essentially suggests that any freedom, no matter how LEGAL, will lead people down the path of licentiousness. Why not do something bigger? Well, if something bigger and LEGAL, just like this is, presents itself, why not do it?

I'm all for civility in most cases, but with conspiracy theorists and people who want to use their "generosity" to put me under some kind of obligation (which they'll then use to make the world a worse place), I think people reap what they sow. I think that's even in the bible.
posted by OmieWise at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2006


And, too, what's with the humorlessness?
posted by OmieWise at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2006


Mind you I myself prefer to shun those people.
posted by clevershark at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2006


Blazecock Pileon : "The designation of 'free' for these items is not for this audience, and — yes — that does certainly matter as far as figuring out the compass point of morality."

Well, hold on there. By saying it isn't stealing, I don't mean to say that it's therefore moral. It may well be immoral, just not stealing. Maybe conning, swindling, I dunno. (Random question: If you sweet-talk an old lady and she passes away and gives you her inheritance, even though you were just pretending to be friendly, what crime is that? It's not stealing, because she gave it voluntarily. But it's definitely some sort of criminal activity, right?)

---

If anything, this thread has just taught me the two twin axioms of Metafilter:

No wonder the left is losing in America. They do A.
-and-
No wonder the left is losing in America. They don't do A.

So I'll just summarize to say: whatever you, whoever is reading this, does or thinks - that's why the left is losing in America.

Me saying that, of course, is why the left loses elections.
posted by Bugbread at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm all for civility in most cases, but with conspiracy theorists and people who want to use their "generosity" to put me under some kind of obligation (which they'll then use to make the world a worse place), I think people reap what they sow.

Amen, brother!
posted by languagehat at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2006


I'm not saying that any freedom leads people to horrible badness. I'm trying to argue that this is one thing on a spectrum, and the entire spectrum is not a direction I'm comfortable with. If you want to go up to FotF people and yell at them and punch them in the face, go for it. But this get-stuff scam feels totally disingenuous and I would be completely floored if it had any real effect other than, "damn, we're out of Narnia DVDs."

people who want to use their "generosity" to put me under some kind of obligation
I really think that only applies if they do something for you without your consent and then say, "hey, I did this thing for you!" If you go out of your way to fill out all their forms so they can send you a DVD, I don't think you can blame them for their "generosity". Maybe blame them for their lack of security.

I suppose I am humorless today. I didn't get enough sleep.
posted by blacklite at 11:02 AM on August 29, 2006


metafilter: why the left loses elections.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:11 AM on August 29, 2006


Wow, how spiffy.

Stick it to the man, and make sure broke Christian families don't get a Narnia dvd.

I think the secular version of what I think about this is best expressed in the statement "What goes around comes around."
posted by konolia at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2006


Feel free to steal from your political enemies. After all, evangelicals aren't human. Next, Warren Ellis can build a gulag and starve them to death too!

I have to admit, the parallels are pretty ominous.
posted by Phlogiston at 11:15 AM on August 29, 2006


It may well be immoral, just not stealing. Maybe conning, swindling, I dunno.

Taking something for nothing under false pretenses seems like stealing, conning or swindling to me. I guess I'm old-fashioned in that those words used to have very similar meaning.

I guess the rationalization just comes down to how badly someone wants to get revenge, regardless of the unintended consequences, or how low that drags one down.

It seems harder to know who the good guys are, anymore. Meh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 AM on August 29, 2006


r/similar/specific
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on August 29, 2006


I know someone who every year without fail goes to a Trendwest presentation, sits through it without buying anything and bags a free trip to Las Vegas. Is that stealing?
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on August 29, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "Taking something for nothing under false pretenses seems like stealing, conning or swindling to me."

There's nothing false about the pretense. They ask how much money you wish to donate, you say $0, they accept that and ship the merchandise. You have done nothing deceptive or dishonest.

I see no ethical problems.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:30 AM on August 29, 2006


On the other hand, this does remind me a bit of that "staring into the void" bit from Nietzsche. These people are monsters, and it's tempting to do horrible things to them. Gotta be careful to remain human ourselves.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2006


I agree, mr_roboto. There is no pretense whatsoever. They don't state at all what they'd prefer you to do with the materials, or who their audience is. The materials available speak for themselves.

And knowing the evangelical mentality, they will hold out hope that even if you order these books for ironic or contrary purposes, there is still a small chance that by coming into contact with it, you'll realize the error of your ways and come to Christ.

It seems harder to know who the good guys are, anymore. Meh.

There aren't any. And the ones who know for a fact that there are are the ones giving away the ridiculous books.
posted by hermitosis at 11:43 AM on August 29, 2006


I think the secular version of what I think about this is best expressed in the statement "What goes around comes around."

Right, this is payback for all the welfare cuts that Dobson's buddy Reagan sponsored.

See also: Madame Nhu on the Kennedy assassination.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2006


Wow! This is the best form of ineffectual, masturbatory show-protest since that one website with pictures of people flicking off H2's!

Hey, how about instead of wasting time thinking of ways to (at best) mildly annoy multi-million dollar, hundreds of thousands strong, potentially policy influencing non-profit organizations, why don't we make some ourselves, and then dedicate time to support them?

A few weeks ago, my sister without insurance, fell ill. In that window of time, I managed to convince my dyed in the wool Fox News Republican mother that public health care might not be such a bad idea after all.

I'll take that experience over all the Narnia DVDs in the world, thanks.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2006


Just curious:

Are those of you who are against this also against all the GLBT families that showed up to participate at the annual White House Easter Egg Hunt to make a point about family values, even though their presence was clearly not particularly appreciated?

After all, they took advantage of the White House's hospitality and media coverage in order to make a point, at the expense of good christian families (who actually celebrate Easter) that didn't wind up making it in.
posted by hermitosis at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2006


Uther Bentrazor: "I'll take that experience over all the Narnia DVDs in the world, thanks."

Can't we have both?
posted by ewagoner at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2006


wasting time

Truly the years that went into planning this would've been enough to build a dozen progressive think-tanks.
posted by aaronetc at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2006


Egg Roll, sorry. Perhaps someone can explain what that means? Chinese food?
posted by hermitosis at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2006


Ok, new plan.

Everyone, infect your uninsured siblings!

*rampages*
posted by furiousthought at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2006


I know someone who every year without fail goes to a Trendwest presentation, sits through it without buying anything and bags a free trip to Las Vegas. Is that stealing?

Yes. It qualifies as stealing a free trip which is basically stealing an airplane which is also known as hijacking. Your friend should expect a phone call from the authorities soon.
posted by jefbla at 12:23 PM on August 29, 2006


(Random question: If you sweet-talk an old lady and she passes away and gives you her inheritance, even though you were just pretending to be friendly, what crime is that? It's not stealing, because she gave it voluntarily. But it's definitely some sort of criminal activity, right?)

I can't help it if I'm lucky.
posted by effwerd at 12:25 PM on August 29, 2006 [2 favorites]


Focus on the Family : monsters :: Islamists : fascists

etc.
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on August 29, 2006


If you sweet-talk an old lady and she passes away and gives you her inheritance, even though you were just pretending to be friendly, what crime is that?

I bet I know what the topic will be over on GetRichSlowly tomorrow.....
posted by phearlez at 12:39 PM on August 29, 2006


I effwerd
posted by Zozo at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2006


The intent here is not to get free things, but to have a detrimental effect on someone else's bottom line — which is fine, but let's call it what it is, instead of rationalizing it by dehumanizing the enemy.
Calling all conservatives! Stop socialism by taking the free food from soup kitchens so they can't prop op the lazy people unwilling to work for food!

Yeah, I guess when you put the words in "the other guy's" mouth it sounds a lot less cool.
posted by verb at 1:38 PM on August 29, 2006


I can't believe all this hand-wringing over whether sticking it to FOTF is ethical. No wonder they're making such vast strides in the culture wars.
What a bunch of complete wankers. Seriously. Liberals are perfectly happy to piss and moan about the US losing its "moral authority" by, say, paying Iraqi writers to publish pro-US stories. But as soon as it's our pet issue, pff! Pragmatism, man!

I actively oppose FotF and the AMA, and have convined Christian friends to stop donating to them because their political and societal goals directly counter the fundamental theological core of Christianity. You think that doesn't send more of a message to the FotF folks than a bunch of angry internet people trying to game their donation system?

This is why Rove and company will always clean your clocks: you're liars and cheats too, you're just no good at it.
posted by verb at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2006


Metafilter: a bunch of angry internet people.
posted by blacklite at 1:50 PM on August 29, 2006


Also, I actively oppose the AFA, not the AMA. That was a typo, not an accidental peek at a secret, tinfoil-hat crusade against medicine. ;)
posted by verb at 1:56 PM on August 29, 2006


What a bunch of complete wankers. Seriously. Liberals are perfectly happy to piss and moan about the US losing its "moral authority" by, say, paying Iraqi writers to publish pro-US stories. But as soon as it's our pet issue, pff! Pragmatism, man! - verb

There are plenty of people, even in this thread, who disagree with both Focus on a narrow subsection of the Family and with the tactic being advocated here.
posted by raedyn at 2:08 PM on August 29, 2006


"Spreading the word" is all about letting you, the sinner, know that when the end of the world comes, you won't be getting into their club.

At least that's the impression I got when I was handing out free shit. I was only 14 though.
posted by M Edward at 2:10 PM on August 29, 2006


I thought the best scam would be to set up a "right-wing" book and DVD store on the web, sell everything at the highest price you can and give all the profits to "left-wing" causes.

Plus you get a good list of people to ignore on your next "Get Out the Vote" drive.
posted by wendell at 2:24 PM on August 29, 2006


...because I would be consciously choosing to degrade my morals to fight back in such a way that I'm stealing from other folks who have been victimized by Dobson.

Grrr. Dude. You have some kinda guilty conscious or something. For the last time it's not stealing.

The tactic is juvenile? Yes. It's bottom feeding? Uh huh. It's political pranksterism? You bet? But it is not stealing.

Nor is it truly conning for you really doing anything under "false" pretenses... because they are giving these things away without ANY direct expectations of a further transaction. That is the theory anyway. They, supposedly, make zero assumptions about you.

As good "christians" it is their hope that the materials, no matter why or how you turn to them, will work their magic bullshit christian mojo on you - and you will be converted. Just by having them.

You may abjure the tactic because of the general sense you may have of it conflicting with your principles of maturity and intellectual honesty. But calling it "stealing" is twisting semantics like calling abortion "murder." So cut it out already.

I won't participate. But doing so is not directly unethical. Just. Well. Immature.
posted by tkchrist at 2:32 PM on August 29, 2006


If it weren't for Narnia selling out (donating out?) I'd have done it, not to protest the AFA or to support the AFA, but simply because: my morals are sparse, and I was planning on renting it anyway. Free DVD ownership is cheaper than paid rental, plus you're MPAA legal to boot.
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 PM on August 29, 2006


Wow. Whatever dudes. This is free shit.
posted by ryanissuper at 2:41 PM on August 29, 2006


Stealing.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:54 PM on August 29, 2006


Signal asks,"Is prescriptivise a verb?". No, but your mom is. I your mommed all night long. I was going to write something about orthography and orthopraxic concepts of psycholinguistic studies, but I'm lazy. Sorry.
posted by boo_radley at 3:10 PM on August 29, 2006


How about if everyone who thinks this is "stealing" just sends in $100 and asks for nothing in return. Surely, good folk like yourselves would have no qualms about helping "victims of crime"?
posted by landis at 3:16 PM on August 29, 2006


I wonder if members of Focus on the Family spend this much time questioning the morality of their actions.
posted by turaho at 3:25 PM on August 29, 2006


I'm trying to imagine Martin Luther King and the people who surrounded him wasting time by sending off for free materials from groups that supported segregation. I'm trying to imagine Gloria Steinem in 1972, rallying women to grab merchandise from the Moral Majority or their ilk.

I can't do it.

I can't even imagine the reverse of this nonsense: fundamentalist evangelicals encouraging their supporters to order literature from pro-equality groups under the guise of preventing it from getting into vulnerable hands.

If you want to promote the cause of equality, support the cause of equality. Talk to your coworkers, neighbors, friends and family. The argument stands on it own merits when people actually make it. Every minute spent gaming FotF in some half-baked, pointless attempt to sabotage them is absolutely nothing but time wasted.
posted by Dreama at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


i) Wouldn't FoTF be able to write off at least part of the cost of the free materials? The evil scammer in me suspects that if one were to order stuff and donate $0, there's a system or loophole that would let them defray a huge chunk of the cost.

Write off what? What does that even mean? They're a religious organization, so they wouldn't be paying any taxes...
posted by delmoi at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2006


> And, too, what's with the humorlessness?

None of that from me. I think limpwristed slaps against the empire are amusing as Hell.


> the materials, no matter why or how you turn to them, will work their magic bullshit christian
> mojo on you - and you will be converted. Just by having them.

And they will, too. Won't you be surprised! Like Warren Ellis was. He wasn't going to help us out with the viral marketing but we slipped a books-on-tape copy of The Purpose-Driven Life down the back of his sofa and he changed his mind before tiffin. (And we take tiffin pretty durn early in these parts, buckaroo.)
posted by jfuller at 3:52 PM on August 29, 2006


Dreama : "Every minute spent gaming FotF in some half-baked, pointless attempt to sabotage them is absolutely nothing but time wasted."

I dunno about that. You can ebay the free merch you get, so it may be profitable. And if you get something you would have otherwise paid for, then at the very least it's frugal.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 PM on August 29, 2006


Well, I've begun my Christmas shopping for the year. The only downside is my fundy dad will be thrilled that I took the time to support FotF.
posted by chiababe at 5:21 PM on August 29, 2006


I can't help it if I'm lucky.

You magnificent bastard.
posted by EarBucket at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2006


Write off what? What does that even mean? They're a religious organization, so they wouldn't be paying any taxes...

I'm curious as to how much it actually costs FotF to send stuff out for a $0 donation. Like I said, perhaps the original manufacturers recieve a bare minimum payment because of the benefits of being associated with FoTF , so really, while you're thinking that yer stickin' it to the man, the man's just getting you on his evil, evil mailing list for free.

I shoulda just stuck to the Veggie Tales-related question (Thanks, dw), sheesh.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:02 PM on August 29, 2006


Most of the stuff they send out is most likely donated in the first place.
posted by clevershark at 7:17 PM on August 29, 2006


I wonder if members of Focus on the Family spend this much time questioning the morality of their actions.

So far it seems like there's not much questioning on either side.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on August 29, 2006


What a bunch of complete wankers. Seriously. Liberals are perfectly happy to piss and moan about the US losing its "moral authority" by, say, paying Iraqi writers to publish pro-US stories. But as soon as it's our pet issue, pff! Pragmatism, man! [ . . .] This is why Rove and company will always clean your clocks: you're liars and cheats too, you're just no good at it.
Ok, fine, it may not be the most efficient tactic. The point this wanker (me) was trying to make is that we're spending way too much time trying to figure out whether this is ethical (OMG, is it, technically speaking, THEFT???) -- as opposed to, say, spending time trying to figure out a better way of fighting back.

It's like the schoolyard bully has you pinned to the ground and is about to clock you, but doesn't realize you could knee him in the nuts. What do you do? Have a long, drawn-out internal dialogue about whether kneeing him in the nuts would be ethical? (That's not to say anyone is really keeing FOTF in the nuts by merely ordering free stuff).
posted by treepour at 12:34 AM on August 30, 2006


Let me put this in very personal perspective, (now that this topic is so old and no one is checking it anymore).

My mother was a rabid fan of James Dobson books when I was a child, and tortured me with classics that had "Discipline" in the title. So the bastards owe me a CD or whatever for the crap I had to put up with.

I have no interest in actually doing something like this, because it makes me feel weird, I don't want a cd that badly and I'm lazy, and I don't want the nutjobs to have my address.

But. I really don't think it's actually a moral issue. The people here who are squawking about morals have assuredly done much worse things in their personal lives. Also, had the FOTF nuts had such a personal effect on your lives? I bet you'd be calling the "moral" shots a little differently. I'm surprised I'm the only person who has admitted to actual exposure to the stuff.
posted by digitalis at 10:15 AM on September 4, 2006


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