Wednesday, July 07, 2004

FOTF, Michael Moore follow-up

Last week I posted about Focus on the Family sending Michael Moore's home address to its email subscribers. I had written to FOTF to ask for confirmation or denial of the allegation, which seemed somewhat shady at the time. Ted at Crooked Timber has long since confirmed the story (although one commentor on my entry apparently still refuses to believe it). I did finally get a response directly from FOTF, also confirming it. I was hoping for some sort of apology and assurance that higher-ups found the sending of the address to be an error of judgment, but they're standing by their decision. Here's the email response I got:
Thanks for writing to Focus on the Family, Mr. Ichikawa. We appreciate the time you took to express your concern regarding the update you read attributed to one of our CitizenLink e-mails. While this communication did originate from our ministry and was sent to those on our distribution list, it is not posted anywhere on our site. Furthermore, we strongly believe the context in which we published his address was not hateful or designed to provoke harassing communication directed to him. We simply stated that if our readers had an opinion about his new movie Fahrenheit 9/11, they could send it to the address given. We did not ask, instruct or demand anyone to communicate with Mr. Moore, nor did we ask anyone to attempt to visit his home. The address is a matter of public record and was provided so constituents could share their views of his movie in the same way that he provided the "private" contact information of a congressman with whom he disagrees in that movie. We hope this brief explanation has been helpful.
The commentors in Ted's post got it right -- there is absolutely no reason to dig up a home address to send to subscribers, as opposed to a business one, other than to threaten and harass. This email has the flavor of lawsuit insurance, period; there's no way it should mollify those of us who are upset on moral grounds. (By the way, why point out that it's not on their site if they stand by the appropriateness of publishing it in an email?) Under the most charitable possible interpretation, FOTF has decided that it would be appropriate to seek revenge on Michael Moore for his stunts (indeed, the last line of the quoted email seems to state as much pretty clearly). This is bad enough. But it's also recklessly irresponsible -- whatever FOTF's motives, they have succeeded in placing Michael Moore and his family in danger. A lot of people get their distribution list, and not all of them are as stable and undangerous as FOTF may or may not be. Whether this consideration figured into FOTF's actual motivation or not, I won't speculate. Just for reference, here is the relevant part of the original email they sent out, starting this whole mess:
Filmmaker Michael Moore, writer/director of the new Bush-bashing documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," has made quite a career out of marketing himself as a man of the people, a populist everyman who fights passionately for the little guy. That's why we wanted to make sure "little guys" could let Moore know exactly what they think about his new movie. So, if you have an opinion about the film -- in which Moore plays fast and loose with the facts to build a case that President Bush is an idiot and the war in Iraq is all about oil profits -- we suggest you send it to the following address: [omitted]


  1. Jim Dobson's home address is also a matter of public record. Want me to dig that up for you to publish?

  2. I absolutely do not. Did you not *read* my post?

  3. I'm sorry, it was a highly ironic, tongue-in-cheek suggestion. I wasn't serious. I was playing around with the idea of turning their logic about on FotF and asking them that question. I can't imagine they would be excited about the good Dr. receiving bags and bags of mail at his home address. And yes, I read your entire article.

  4. I'm glad to hear it was meant in jest... some people have thought along those lines quite seriously, though. Several people even posted it in Ted's CT thread (he always quickly deleted it).