(6/27/2002) Many e-petitions are created for legitimate causes. Unfortunately, their authors rarely anticipate the reach and perils of the medium. There are definitely better ways to make a difference.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Subject: GET THE STALKER LAW CHANGED
On May 10, 2002, my niece Melinda "Mindy" Taylor was murdered by her stalker. Although she attempted to get help from local authorities, nothing was done. On this fatal day, she and a friend were murdered after her assailant broke into her home in Hamilton, IL by using the butt of a high powered assault rifle. I have attached a link of the local newspaper article and a photo of my niece. She was only 24 yrs old. Her friend Kevin Moore was only 19. Her assailant was 31 and after he shot them, he shot himself. This horrendous act of violence was witnessed by 2 young children. Kevin's godson and Mindy's son...both 3 yrs of age.
I wish to get the stalking law changed ; written clearly and concise so those enforcing the law have no recourse but to enforce it. Please take a moment to list your name, city & state below. The person who has listed his/her name in the 500 th position will be responsible to return the petition back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you! Don't let this happen to someone else.
(names of those who signed have been omitted)
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
The article mentioned, but not included in later versions of the petition, is from the Keokuk Gate City Daily. It confirms that, between three and four o'clock on the morning of May 10, 2002, Jeffrey Barber apparently forced his way into the home of 24-year old Melinda Taylor and shot and killed her and her friend, 19-year old Kevin Moore, before turning the weapon on himself. It also tells of the stalking history between Taylor and Barber.
Joyce Joy, the creator of the above e-petition and Melinda Taylor's Aunt told BreakTheChain.org that her intentions are sincere and her goal humble:
"I have been writing to legislators, senators, representatives, the attorney general and the governor of Illinois with my request. I just thought if I could get the support of others it may help. I started this email on 6/12/02 and only sent the petition to people that I know. Response has not been many and I was planning on collecting the names until I reached 500. I was going to present the petition to the Illinois House of Representatives in hopes to at least change the stalking law in Illinois."
E-petitions are popular because they are easy to create and easy to participate in. For the same reason, most legislators pay them little attention. A single personally written letter to an elected official has far more influence than 500 e-mail "signatures." If you live in Illinois and wish to support Ms. Joy's campaign, click here to get the address of your legislators. In the rest of the United States, the U.S. Congress web site will put you in touch with your federal lawmakers.
BreakTheChain.org recommends against participating in any e-mail petition. Read my primer on Armchair Activism to find out why. Break this Chain.