Useless Email Petitions
Email petitions are a
waste of your time. Many petitions are for hoaxes. Some are
for very real problems, like the one about treatment of women in
Afghanistan (pre 9/11). The petition itself is still useless.
Some are useless and so old that they are no longer applicable. A
couple of college students, upset at threatened cuts of governmental
funding of the arts and afraid of threatened cuts at PBS/NPA many years
ago, created a petition to get lawmakers not to do this. The
petition is still on the net despite
the fact that the cuts didn't happen then and aren't even being threatened
Real petitions to the
government have several elements: A name, a verifiable address, and
a signature. Genuine internet petitions will require the same
(except for the signature). A petition MUST be verifiable in order
to be legal.
In general, the best way to express your ideas and
feelings to a political representative is to call or write them.
Email is as good as snail mail for this as long as your name and full
postal address is on the mail. Congress.org allows you to input your
zip code and find the phone number, physical address and email address of
all of your representatives. You can email them right then and there
from within the website. It also allows you to contact the President, Vice
President and your local state leaders. This is NOT a waste of time.
Petitions for imagined problems are just as bad.
There's the one about prayer in public schools being illegal. I know
that the writer meant well, but his basis for creating a petition was
incorrect. Prayer is not illegal in public schools. School
sponsored prayer during school hours is unconstitutional (not criminal).
Children have the right to pray anytime they want at school, as long as
they are not disrupting class or school activities. The courts
continue to uphold this. Many schools have made attempts to keep children
from even praying over their meals, but it is the school that ends up with
egg on their face as a result. As a Christian, I don't know that I want state
sponsored prayer in public schools either. Who wants the government
to institute prayers? All religions would have to be given equal
opportunity, including Wiccans and Satanists. It is a fact that kids
CAN pray at school, either by themselves or in a group (as long as no one
is forced to join them), so, this poor misguided person's whole petition
was based on something that didn't exist. Further, the "petition"
wasn't a petition at all, just a forwarded email and addressed to the
President of the United States, who has no power to doing anything about
I also received a petition where a man claimed that
witnessing would be outlawed and this petition (to unspecified
"government officials) was to ask the government not to outlaw it.
He based this on an article in an e-newspaper. The Southern Baptist
Convention had just been held in his area. Southern Baptists
throughout the area had been doing door-to-door and street corner
witnessing. The man interviewed in the article thought it was wrong
for them to do this and wanted it stopped. He intended to ask the
government to agree with him and ban the practice. The petition
writer took this to mean that witnessing could be outlawed by the federal
government. Fortunately, we still have the first amendment to the
constitution, something the courts have general upheld. The article
was about a particular man who would like to see it be illegal to talk
about religious things to people. How the writer ever got out of
that article that the government was going to make it illegal, I don't
know. It may one day be illegal and we are near that mark now as
people are already jailed and financially ruined for speaking the truth
about either homosexuality or Islam in other so-called free societies.
It is coming to the U.S., but an email petition won't fix the problem.
Finally, most of these "petitions" are either
vague in wording, lack a specific target or target the wrong governmental
official. I saw one after 9/11 that was supposed to go to the
President. It had a great deal of information claiming that Muslim
terrorists were not extremists, but were the mainstream of their religion.
Fine and dandy, but nowhere did it specify what they wanted the President
to do with that information. Another petition asks the President to
reinstate prayer in schools (see two paragraphs above). However, the
President doesn't make laws. The request should have been aimed
congress. Worse, the petition made no issue about what they were
really requesting. Did they want the President to allow school
children to pray by themselves at a specified time? Did they want
the President to allow children to vocally lead in prayer? Did they
want the President to restrict this to only certain religions?
Worse, this same "petition" didn't include any wording for a
petition. It only claimed that it was asking for prayer to be
reinstated in schools. This could have come from anyone of any
religion. Without a specifically stated wording, you could be
signing something you don't approve of. The originator could then
write their own words (which is true of every email petition) about
anything and send it to the official with hundreds of signatures that
people thought were meant for another purpose.
One word of caution about email petitions: Unlike
on online petition, where personal information is placed into a database
to be used only for the petition, any personal information (name, city,
email address) that you put on a forwarded email petition can be seen by
up to thousands of people, depending on how the email is forwarded and how
many generations are attached. I consider this a dangerous practice.
Please don't sign any email petition. Write your
elected representatives whether by email or snail mail, or call them.
Even with on-line petitions (see info below), representatives say that
this is the last thing they look at. Some do not look at them at all
and simply throw them away. All representatives continue to say that
phone calls and mail DO get their attention. Their response will be
based on the amount of effort you make about an issue.
here to read Dr. Rich Buhler's (Truth of Fiction) excellent article on the
uselessness of email petitions
Online petitions are different than email petitions.
A legitimate on-line petition will ask for your name, address and email
address. This is not to say that ANY on-line petition should be
signed. First, does the site directly say who this petition is going
to? Are you able to view the text of the message they intend to
send? Does it address a specific and real issue? More
importantly, do you know who is sending it? If the site sending the
petition is not a known entity such as BreakPoint, Concerned Women for
America, etc., who are they? Does the group or person give adequate,
verifiable information on themselves on the site? Is there
legitimate contact information (either name, address & phone or email)?
NEVER sign an on-line petition unless you know this
information! You simply don't know who you are giving your email
address out to, nor if the petition will ever be sent. The person or
group running the site could be harvesting address, or worse, be a group
that you would never have dealings with if you knew who they were.
My advice would be to only sign petitions from trusted
sources. Even better, write personal messages to our lawmakers.