Break the Chain Give Peace a Chance

Created 9/21/2001 (1/10/2003) Perhaps fueled by President Bush's ongoing struggle to garner international support for a war with Iraq, this petition has resurfaced. It illustrates beautifully one of the largest pitfalls of Armchair Activism.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

Please, we all need to be proactive about our beliefs. If you do not want the US to go to war, please sign this petition and forward it to as many people as you can. We do not need more death and destruction to be visited upon this earth.

To whomever wishes to join this initiative: The United States is at the point of declaring war, due to the day of terror last Tuesday in which the World Trade Center in New York and part of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. were destroyed. The New York Times states that the attack was not only against the United States, but against civilization in general. "We must identify the countries that support terrorist movements because it is there that the real war lies."

Meanwhile, at 2:44 p.m. on September 11, the editor-in-chief of the Arab newspaper Al-Quds, based in London, stated that the Islamic terrorist Ussama bin Laden had warned three weeks prior to the attacks that he was going to undertake "an important attack" against U.S. interests. Karen

Hughes, advisor to President Bush stated in a press conference that the country has the means to assure national security. Therefore, serious reprisals may be launched against the Islamic world. The current state of alert in which the U.S. finds itself is not without reason. People are outraged and are demanding that some kind of justice be sought, and that a counter-attack be launched to avenge their dead countrymen.

Today we find ourselves in the midst of great, worldwide instability, which could lead to a THIRD WORLD WAR. If you are against this,the U.N. is collecting names in an attempt to avoid further tragic developments.

PLEASE COPY THIS MESSAGE into a new e-mail, add your name to the list that follows and send it to everyone you know. If you receive this list with more than 500 names, please send a copy to unicwash@unicwash.org

If you do not wish to sign, please be considerate enough not to break the chain, and send the message on anyway.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The petition above started circulating just days after the 9/11/2001 tragedy. Following the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, this abbreviated version began circulating:

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Mourn the Victims.
Stand for Peace.
Islam is not the Enemy.
War is NOT the Answer.
Our grief is not a cry for war.

Today we are at a point of imbalance in the world and are moving toward what may be the beginning of a THIRD WORLD WAR. If you are against this possibility, the UN is gathering signatures in an effort to avoid a tragic world event.

Please COPY (rather than Forward) this e-mail in a new message, sign at the end of the list, and send it to all the people you know.

If you receive this list with more than 500 names signed, please send a copy of the message to: unicwash@unicwash.org

Even if you decide not to sign, please consider forwarding the petition on instead of eliminating it.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Then, in early 2003 - as weapons inspections in Iraq wrapped up, troops were mobilized and war seemed imminent - this even shorter version surfaced, translated into multiple languages citing a different (though still incorrect) e-mail address.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The United States is about to start a war without consideration for international law. If you want to speak against it, the UN are collecting signatures to work against this tragic event. Please do COPY this e-mail to a new mail, sign it at the end of the attached list and send it to all the people you know. If you've received a list with more than 500 signatures, please send another copy to the United Nations inquiries@un.org Even if you decide not to sign, please forward this petition!

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

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Despite the claims in this letter, the UN is not collecting signatures via an e-mail petition. It's a common practice of petition creators (most of them well-meaning) to ask you to send "completed" petitions directly to the party whose actions they are trying to influence. However, If that party has no knowledge of the drive and has not given consent, this onslaught of unsolicited mail is the equivalent of an e-mail bomb that will cripple e-mail systems and slow employee productivity, as the UN explains in this autoreply message:

"The email account you are trying to reach, recently closed due to a massive petition campaign that was started by an unknown source. While the intentions were admirable, this petition generated thousands of emails and has caused serious computer problems on our system. For those looking to send a petition somewhere, we suggest sending a postal letter to your government representative."

E-mail petitions are generally seen by corporate and political leaders, even most grass-roots activists, as a total waste. The signatures are easily forged, the petitions themselves usually poorly constructed and few, if any, actually accomplish what they were designed to do. To learn more reasons e-petitions are ineffective read the Primer on Armchair Activism in the Chain-Breaker's Library. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: None

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