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Dear MoveOn

Composed on the 11th of October in the year 2006, at 1:38 PM. It was Wednesday.

From MoveOn, supposedly care of me:1[1]

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YOUR COMMENT TO ABC

TO: Bob Iger, CEO of ABC’s corporate parent, Disney

CC: (Your Representative)

FROM: (Your Name and Email)

SUBJECT: No partisan propaganda on 9/11

__________

Dear Mr. Iger,

(Your personal note)

“The Path to 9/11” is a partisan movie, written and produced by a right-wing activist who fabricated key scenes to blame Democrats and defend Republicans.

The movie appears to be part of a coordinated push — including speeches by President Bush and millions of dollars in advertising — to exploit the five-year anniversary of 9/11 for political gain.

ABC must not air partisan propaganda on 9/11.

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My personal note:

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Dear Bob,

Ignore this petition. Air the series. This is far from the first or worst inaccurate thing purported as being based on true events. Partisan propoganda is the inevitable outcome of a partisan system. Neither ABC nor Disney is bound by any legal or social contract to support a political agenda or maintain neutrality. Anyone who thinks otherwise is misinformed, intellectually blind, or mistaking an argument for a premise.

Best,

Pete

Dear MoveOn.org,

I am cancelling my membership. Did it occur to anyone in your organization, or at least anyone in the obviously brief chain of descision makers involved in sending this email, that an organization promoting itself as an active effort to grant public opinion an audible political voice probably shouldn’t be starting petitions to yank the opposition’s voice off the air?

I have never thought that MoveOn was any more or less than a political agenda, the same as any other grassroots organization, the same as any corporate parlor politics. The means, methods, and motives vary, but it’s essentially the same people playing the same game. I remained on the mailing list because MoveOn seemed somewhat better educated, and I figured it was the best way to get token involvement credits in a zero-sum future.

Now, MoveOn has rolled over and become the same kind of uniformed collective that whines about Farenheit 9/11. Did that movie sway anyone from any side to the other? No. Will Path to 9/11 make any difference, to anyone? No. There are actually things happening in the world that might eventually matter to me and affect my life; Path to 9/11 is not one of them. It will not change my mind, it will not change anyone else’s mind; it’s sole social function will be to inspire a month long debate during which some people will apologize, other people will not apologize, commentators will comment, columnists will column, and everyone will become briefly distracted from things like nuke-toting crazies and environmental catastrophe. MoveOn plays into this brilliantly, trying to drag 200,000 people into caring about nothing. At the same time, you commit precisely the kind of free speech hypocrisy that had you up in arms in the first place (thereby making your future opinions as dismissable as the phrase “Freedom is Slavery”), provide free advertising for the show you’re trying to get rid of, cheapen your own political identity, and give credibility to your opponents’ efforts by caring. You’re both exploiting 9/11. People have been exploiting it since the day it happened.

Additionally, you display an complete lack of respect for the people you are supposedly trying to grant a voice. That 200,000 thousand people listening to you will be the deciding factor in making sure 200,000,000 people will never get the chance to decide for themselves is not only an absurd effort, it would depressing for you to succeed.

If partisan masturbation is so egregious a sin that you need to sign petitions to stop it, try not to create mastubartory partisan petitions. If you want to give real voice to real people for real causes, try doing something that isn’t actively counter-productive to creating a population who can see through this constant, emotionally charged, irony-free hypocrisy.

All you have achieved, and I seriously doubt ABC will give a damn, and they shouldn’t, is to waste everyone’s time, and try to consign your supporters to another month of complaining about totally ineffective propoganda, which is precisely why the people in power laugh at you. If you could have simply pointed out one factual error in the series after it had already aired, you would have helped to speed up the process of forgetting about it, instead of prolonging it by trying to shoot the show down.

But no. I’m willing to bet that a fair number of people signed up to MoveOn are now going to go out and watch the show when it airs. They will sit through the commercials. While they are bemoaning another batch of political lies, they will be unaware of the media induced connections forming in their minds, linking tragedy, righteousness, sex, and soda. They will write letters. They will stay up late. They will buy Coke so they stay awake through the next day’s rally, because Coke was just on their minds for some reason when they went to the gas station. Coke will make money, ABC will make money, and everyone will drive around as they usually do, burning fossil fuels and exploiting third world poster children. You have not just not helped, you have actively made it worse, for yourself and the world at large.

I’m trying so hard to maintain this educated, condescending tone, but for fuck’s sake, MoveOn, are you stupid? How much of your time did you waste on this? Did you really reason this out and think, “Oh this is a good example of free speech and progressive politics”? How fucking dumb do you have to be? How much of everyone’s time will you be responsible for wasting when they do your books in Hell? Fuck, how much of my time have I wasted writing this letter? I could be at least charging someone for that last, irreplaceable chunk of my life, but no, and I can’t even imagine how many goddamn conversations about this fucking show I’m going to have to sit through because you told all my friends about it, and will I sit through them? Of course I will, because I want to get laid too, and quickly, because the world’s frigging ending, sooner than later, because everybody spends all their goddamn time reading useless emails that are clogging up the series of tubes delivering that email that could have been used for downloading pornography, then talking about shit that doesn’t matter instead of fucking doing something! FUCK! FUCK YOU! WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING? WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? ARE YOU CRAZY?

Best,

Pete

1 For years I watched moveon.org grow, and there was always something vaguely familiar about the founder. I didn’t put it together until two years after I wrote this, when my friend Max told me we’d gone to school with him at Simon’s Rock. My only distinct memory of Eli Pariser from this period is from parents’ day, when I and my girlfriend at the time snuck away from her friends and had sex in the common lounge of her dorm. At the exact moment I zipped up my pants and my girlfriend was looking for her dress, Eli and his dad walked in with a movie and sat down on another couch. I made an elaborate production of folding up the blanket in such a way as to allow my girlfriend to finish dressing, and we booked it. I have no idea what happened to the condom. You heard it here first. When I made this connection, I initially felt bad about this letter, but after a mere half a beer, I stopped felling bad, mostly because I remembered the above story and have regaled all mutual aquiaintences with it since. I approve of MoveOn, but I stand by my point, and have not renewed my membership.

Feel the burn.

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