October 06, 2004

e-petitions Is anyone else's inbox being bombarded with e-petitions like this? I get them all the time and wonder if they ever accomplish anything. Furthermore, when they ask you to send every 10th signature to president@whitehouse.gov, who actually reads it?
  • Ah yes, and then there's the silly "NPR funding in jeoprady" thing that gets trotted out every Spring or so chock-full of complete inaccuracies and a dim understanding of the American legislative process. My general response to these mass useless repeat emails (aka MUREs) is to respond to everyone on the list including the sender by: 1)Thanking the sender for raising this topic, which invariably is something sane humans would be concerned about. 2) Point out simply but succinctly why epetitions such as this are complete monkey feces...and not in a good way. 3) Giving links for how to contact your local representatives and/or where to learn more actual information on the issue. As may be expected, I've pissed off a couple friends this way, even though I make every effort to be polite (that's key!), but the friends worth keeping realize it's not about them, it's about finding away to address the problem that got them so incensed to send the epetition in the first place.
  • The problem with the particular e-mail in the link is that it is simply out of date. It was initially circulated in 2002, and it was in a form that asked people to contact that White House directly, not as an e-mail petition. Bush planned to appoint Dr Hager to the head of the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee in December of 2002. However, there was much public outcry at the time (including petitions like these), and on Dec. 24, 2002, Bush merely appointed Hager as a committee member, along with at least two other anti-choice doctors- Joseph Stanford and Susan Crockett These appointments caused a number of people in the medical and scientific fields to voice their concerns about Bush's appointments based on religious ideology. However, the appointments still stand. Over the last two years a number of highly questionable recommendations have been made by this committee. The most significant has been denying emergency contraception (the morning after pill) over-the-counter availability, despite the fact that two other FDA advisory committees supported the wider availability. So, certainly this issue is still alive and well. Unfortunately, giving people bad, out-of-date information doesn't really help matters much. And as for online petitions, I doubt that they have any effect at all.