Thursday, October 9, 2014

So THIS Happened...

Upon becoming a student at the University of Arkansas, I was issued an e-mail address intended for academic use. I have every right to disperse this particular address to anyone that I'd like to, as it is STILL very much my private information. Yesterday, however, I got an e-mail that puzzled me: The Republican Party of Arkansas recently sent out an en-masse recruitment e-mail to University students, the trouble is that many of us have absolutely no idea how they got that information. They are not directly affiliated with the University, so by all accounts they SHOULDN'T have been able to access our e-mail. But for some reason, they DID, and many members of the local secular student RSO Occam's Razors seem to think that they may have obtained this information illegally

At the heart of it all, as far as the contents of the e-mail are concerned, it's not the pretentious & insincere "God Bless" that irks me about this: I'm greatly more concerned about how these people got my fucking e-mail address to begin with than what nonsense they actually sent me. Then I saw THIS PART...

The problem with sending out spam e-mail to an entire academic institution while including propaganda that marginalizes an entire group of people who disagree with you, is that you are probably going to hear back from the people that you marginalized about exactly WHY they disagree with you, and you have no reason to complain if a few of them sound rightly pissed off. If you have to resort to (possibly) breaking the law to send out recruitment spam for your cause, maybe you should at least consider NOT including nonsense that targets a specific demographic of people: ATHEISTS.

At least they were kind/foolish enough to include their organization's contact information in the thoughtless and completely unsolicited e-mail. I'm going to interpret that as "Hey, I know you didn't ask for us to send you this message that makes our position about how little regard we have for the rights of those of you that DON'T have an imaginary friend, so feel free to message us any-ol-time about absolutely anything!" THAT is either a gross oversight on their part, in which case SOMEONE needs to investigate the goings-on within their office lest they wind up in some serious shit in the future, or the Republican Party of Arkansas might (mind you, I said MIGHT) be completely okay with breaking the law for the sake of getting attention.

If that is genuinely the case, then I find it absolutely pathetic: It's one thing to disagree with people on things, it's quite another to violate rules & regulations for the sole sake of making your point. 

If YOU are a student who received this e-mail and DIDN'T want it, it might be a good idea to contact the University's Tech center and file a complaint. Complaints can also be taken up through the Federal Trade Commission:

Some have mentioned that if this were coming from the Democratic party, then this would never have become an issue. There are two problems that I have with that statement: First off, it assumes, without evidence, that someone from the Democratic Party INTENDS to do so (and since many of our members are ALREADY registered Democrats, it would be utterly silly of them to do so.) And second, even if, in the off chance, the en-masse harvesting of private information DOES turn out to be legal, it's still incredibly ignorant to send a message that endorses a message of "fuck these people, join us" and NOT expect them to respond.

And if you have to resort to (possibly) breaking the law to do your job, that is a plain and clear indicator that YOU SUCK AT IT.

14-Oct-2014 Update: After talking to a couple of outside sources, as well as hearing from someone at the University just today, apparently our University e-mail addresses are part of a public directory. So, strictly speaking, while what the Arkansas Republicans did turns out to be perfectly legal, it's still rather lame: For the same reason I don't like door-to-door missionaries or salesmen bothering me at home, I see enough political propaganda on my Facebook & Twitter feeds every day. I use my University e-mail for UNIVERSITY RELATED BUSINESS, that's the only thing I ever intend to use it for. It's not like anyone living in the entire State of Arkansas has never ever heard of the Republican (or Democratic) Party, there was no practical reason whatsoever for that to have been sent out in the first place.

To put it bluntly, if I WANT TO hear from a local or national political organization, I will attempt to make contact directly MYSELF. No one likes unsolicited spam, this shouldn't exactly be a difficult concept to grasp in the age of the Internet.

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