(5/13/01) With his scheduled execution fast approaching (despite recent postponements), the public's eye is on Timothy McVeigh. There are few who feel he shouldn't pay the highest price for his heinous crime, and even fewer who feel he should benefit at all from his perverse celebrity status. It makes sense, then, that a plea for good americans to refuse to buy a book about him is forwarded with such passion.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
I am an OKC fireman and I hope that Tuesday when Tim McVeighs book hits the newsstands that NO ONE WILL BUY IT.
This man is being given too much publicity and shows NO REMORSE for the horrible crime that he committed. He has admitted he is guilty. He refers to the precious 19 children he murdered as "collateral damage" > and his only regret is that "their deaths proved to be a public relations nightmare that undercut his cause." The pictures of these children and the adults will always be in our minds. One hundred and sixty-eight innocent people died that day. This man murdered them.
Please do not make him some sort of hero. He wants part of the proceeds to go to the Oklahoma City Memorial. The Oklahoma City Memorial declines the money. Send the money to the Memorial, but PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK....!!!!!!
Thank you....and remember the precious children who were so innocent.
Please pass this on to everyone you know so that this monster does not get any more publicity.
Paul Hinchey, Captain
Guymon Fire Dept.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
There are a couple of major problems with this directive. First, while Paul Hinchey is real, he is not the author of this note. Rather, he is the victim of "False Attribution Syndrome." When we forward messages, often, our e-mail program will automatically attach a signature file to the note. If that signature adds to the credibility of the message, it is retained in future versions to lend authority. Here's what happened to Mr. Hinchey, in his own words:
"I would like to tell you that I did not write this letter only forwarded it when I received it. I cleaned up all the addresses on the top of the message before I sent it.
"I am not an Oklahoma City firefighter but a firefighter in the Oklahoma panhandle.
"I agree that we should not buy the book that has been so highly talked about in the media. My understanding is that the authors of this book wanted to donate part of the proceeds to the Oklahoma City National Memorial but that the Memorial did not want any part of this.
"If you would like to find out more about the Memorial you can go to the web site: www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org for more information."
This e-mail is unlikely to have any impact. It is little more than armchair activism. Rather than participate in this pointless boycott, do something more direct that is more likely to make a difference. Donate to the memorial, or the red cross, or anything that can actually help. Break this chain.