Or, How to Destroy a Community-based Organization 101.
According to the New York Times, Acorn is on Brink of Bankruptcy. The organization points to sabotage on the part of conservative activists who recorded video of ACORN reps giving tax advice on how to hide money from prostitution. The organization was later cleared of any wrongdoing, but the damage is done.
This videotaping under false pretenses is an invasion of privacy, it’s grossly unfair, and I’m sick of it being bandied around as “evidence.” It’s not. We have no idea what has been done to video or email “evidence” before it goes viral. And even if this James Elliott Moore III character could be trusted (which he obviously can’t because he lies to get his way), for all we know, what he taped was a one-time thing. It was wrong and mean-spirited when Michael Moore kept the cameras rolling on an addled Charleston Heston for Bowling for Columbine, but at least Moore didn’t appear to lie to anybody to get his face time with Heston.* That just makes this ACORN stuff all the more wrong.
Civil disobedience is exactly that. Sitting in the front of the bus instead of the back of the bus hurts nobody. Sitting in the whites only section of a cafe is reasonable thing to do. Stopping traffic? Sitting in? No real damage to anybody. It’s not like I don’t think transgressing social norms to expose wrongs shouldn’t be done; it has to be done. But there’s a big difference between civil disobedience and creating viral videos. The first can be brave and socially significant, the second seems almost always self-indulgent and fame-seeking.
This is why more people should be expected to study film because way too many people walk around thinking if they’ve seen something on video, it’s just like an eyewitness account. It’s not. It’s framed. It’s edited. Sound can be removed or added.
*Heston’s handlers should have looked out for him better, but still. Did we get any smarter watching that?