[Updated] Check out this utterly crass and opportunistic ad that just appeared on Facebook featuring the mugshot photo of Jared Loughner pitching a message in support of gun control.
The ad is linked to the webpage of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a petition to implement gun control measures.
Apart from the vulture-like timing, there are at least a couple of things wrong with the ad (not the least of which is the reality that none of the measures proposed by MAIG would have stopped Loughner given that he legally-purchased his firearms from licensed vendors):
- It uses Jared Loughner’s image to endorse something without his permission. As near as I can remember, we’re still living in the United States where we afford the accused due process before they’re convicted. Talk about “poisoning the well.”
- Even the Dalai Llama would likely find it difficult to muster sympathy for Loughner, but the reality is in all liklihood he is severely mentally-ill. Exploiting the fearsome, contorted visage in his mug shot is nothing short of macabre and cruel (and ultimately contributes to the stigma that mental illness carries with it – making it less likely that others will seek treatment).
- As if reality weren’t scary/horrible enough, it also appears the MAIG doctored the photo of Loughner; cutting his head out of his mugshot photo and pasting it into a body wearing a hoodie and standing in front of a criminal line-up backdrop. I guess a suspected shooter in a white t-shirt isn’t menacing enough; he needs to be stereotyped by clothing as well?
In the communications field, it’s important to contextualize your message and relate it to current events. This, however, is a rather cynical and unethical application of those principles.
Shame on the MAIG for exploiting the tragedy to serve their political ends (after the nation has had a long, deliberate discussion about precisely how misguided that practice was immediately after the tragedy) and shame on Facebook for approving that ad for publication.