Cosmic Connie to blame for family's suffering?
Earlier today I received an email from a person who is apparently a friend of the beleaguered investment guru and star of The Secret, David Schirmer.
Dear Ms Schmidt
I wish to respectfully ask if you could remove the offensive images of Mr David Schirmer from your website - your blog is your own and your views are your own, though not based on anything very substantial, but I would ask that you respect the Schirmer's young family who have suffered enough and there are many of us down here in Melbourne who wish to continue to protect that for them.
Im sure as you say that you "root for the underdog" that you will appreciate this request. Enough human damage has already been caused.
I personally have the greatest respect and gratitude to the Schirmers for a number of reasons, which are personal to me and my family, and I will not relate them here as I know you have your own conflicting views and it is not my place to try and change those views - you have a democratic right to speak. In a perfect world societies like yours and mine would not be so narrow and be ready to listen, but that will not change in a hurry, I can see that.
It would be appreciated if you could remove those images.
Because I am not an ogre, and because I do sometimes get carried away in my efforts to be clever, I gave serious consideration to this person’s request. The fact that his letter was unfailingly polite, rather than filled with obscenities like some of the stuff I’ve received from those who do not like what they read on my blog, was also a plus, in my book. Nevertheless I was not entirely swayed by the heartfelt plea. I shot off an email to several folks who have been following this saga with me, and I asked them what they thought. I mulled over the issues involved.
On the one hand, I worked hard on those offensive images. Do you know how difficult it is to separate David Schirmer's head from the rest of him, and then slap it onto some dead martyred saint's body, or the UK version of a Harry Potter book cover, when you really aren't all that competent in PhotoPaint/PhotoShop? Especially when the hue and saturation in the two images are completely different from each other?
On the other hand, are the images really hurtful and offensive? Might they possibly hurt David Schirmer's young family even more than they have been damaged? I do worry about collateral damage; it's not the kids' fault that Daddy is [being accused of being] a scammer (and possibly not the wife's fault either, though I think she's involved in some of his bidness dealings).
[On still another] hand, aren't my words equally if not more offensive [than the images]? And shouldn't the Schirmers be monitoring their kids' Internet usage to keep them away from blogs such as mine?
The first person to respond was my wonderful partner Ron, aka Rev Ron:
I agree with one point in his message: that enough human damage has already been caused. But that damage was not the result of your blog or the images therein. It was caused by Schirmer’s actions toward trusting investors. And for those actions, he certainly deserves to be called to account.
Had your images portrayed Schirmer having sex with underage boys or farm animals, I would agree – as would you – that they have no place on a publicly-accessible blog. From what I’ve seen, however, they merely portray Schirmer as whining about how badly he’s been persecuted. Perhaps when the "persecution" evolves into "prosecution," he will sing a different tune. Perhaps not.
Were images to be summarily removed because they paint a less-than-rosy picture of the subject, political cartoons would not exist, as each and every one of those is certain to offend the subject’s fans. I certainly wouldn’t advocate such a standard of censorship, and feel that [Schirmer’s friend] has no right to do so.
Blair responded next:
When I first started to read the request I was sympathetic, but then I read his statement that your ideas are "not based on anything very substantial" and thought [differently]. Then, his comments about the children made me back off from that a bit.
And, like you Connie, I’m not sure what I would do here. Though I can see how the images could be "hurtful" to some, I agree that your words might be even more so and yet he didn’t say anything about them.
Here’s a thought. Thank the guy for his e-mail and concern and make a deal with him. As soon as David pays back the money he owes and stops hurting the families and children he has hurt thus far, you will remove the images. Sounds more than fair to me.
After all, the worst you have done is hurt their feelings while David has hurt people financially and in a very, very big way. I can’t imagine losing 90 grand to some idiot like this. Can you imagine how much this must have hurt those families?
As far as I can tell, YOU are supposed to have a conscience but David gets to go about his business and play good guy?...
Then Tony weighed in:
I am appalled at the tactic that this fellow took. His plea to remove the images "FOR THE CHILDREN" is ghastly, abhorrent, and quite in line with the ideas we have been touching upon during our correspondence these last few days.
Do these people have a level to which they will not stoop? It is not your use of satirical images that is harming Schirmer's children, it is the action taken by Schirmer that is causing harm and humiliation to his children. Once again, these [guys] are shifting the blame! After the ACA show was televised, what did Schirmer do? He claimed that they were attacking his BELIEFS. I watched the show. They never ONCE spoke about the LOA or the Secret; they called him on his scandalous business dealings. Schirmer tried to shift the blame, though, never once addressing the issue.
Now, this [other person] is claiming that YOU are the one at fault and are causing his children distress. YOU! NOT Schirmer's actions. Not his trying to weasel out of the accusations.
Blame shifting. Just like they do in ALL of their dealings. The Secret didn't work? Oh, well, you just need to attend another seminar because your thoughts aren't clear enough. You didn't get a return of 1000% in your trading? Oh, well, you just didn't apply my principles properly, so you need to attend ANOTHER seminar to learn the new techniques.
And then it comes to this: [He’s] a liar and a crook, but it is YOUR blog that is damaging the CHILDREN.
What gall!…You can always tell when you're going to be the victim of a scam or a con or a double-cross. The people who perpetrate such frauds always say the same things:
1. "I'm not in this for the money ..."
2. "We have to do this FOR THE CHILDREN ..."
I thought Ron, Blair and Tony all made excellent points. I'd pretty much come to the same conclusions, but their opinions helped me make my decision. And so, with all due respect to the person who wrote me the email, the images will remain in place. I appreciate the fact that he is standing up for his friend; I would hate to think that even an alleged scammer would be abandoned by all of his friends. (I should also add that if it turns out that the allegations against Schirmer are false, I will post a retraction and apology here.)
But Ron's right; the images really are in the same category as political cartoons. Further, David Schirmer is a public figure and fair game for commentary and satire. Those who find the images offensive can take comfort; soon enough they’ll be gone from the main page as I add more posts to my blog. And I bet that will happen considerably sooner than those folks who spoke on ACA will get their money back.