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Update January 15: The bookstore owner apologized for allowing the mail to be sent. The apology can be seen as a comment in the previous entry referenced below.

Here's the email I sent as a result of receiving the spam I wrote about here.

To: books@keplers.com, bookvalet@keplers.com
Subject: Offensive spam sent via your mailing list

I am writing to object to the spam I received via your mailing list last
night, "Stop hunger by losing weight."

I am referring to it as spam because I don't see any notice in the
mailing that the workshop is taking place at Kepler's or that there is
any book associated with the workshop that Kepler's is selling.

I have already removed my name from your mailing list, and I plan to
take my book-buying business elsewhere, unless I receive assurance that
the mailing list will be used in the future only to promote books, and
events sponsored by Kepler's that are clearly labeled as such.

I'm annoyed by the spam and I am also offended by the workshop
description. Following is an explanation why the workshop description is

I am all for mindfulness and have a mindfulness practice myself, and I
am certainly in favor of charitable donations. But the subject line
"Stop hunger by losing weight" and the web site name "Pounds for
Poverty" implies to me that fat people are primarily to blame for world
hunger and poverty.

Fat people do not do any harm to other people by being fat. Studies show
that fat people do not as a group eat more than thin people. Fat people
do not consume other things more than thin people either -- in fact most
fat people are poor. Many fat people are not white and fat-hatred
therefore acts as a socially acceptable form of racism.

And a great many people who think they are too fat are not fat, which
leads to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulemia, which
disproportionately affect teen and young adult women.

There is a moral panic in this country where fat people are wrongly made
into symbols for forms of consumption that *do* harm and waste
resources. Workshop descriptions that associate fatness with
overconsumption encourage this distraction from the real problem, and
encourage prejudice and discrimination against fat people.

I would be all for a workshop that teaches people forms of mindfulness
that lead them to turn their Mercedes and SUVs and cosmetic surgery and
other expensive "empty consumption" habits to poverty relief. I think
that would generate a lot more money for poverty relief than a weight
loss program. And in San Mateo/Palo Alto where most people are rich and
thin, it might well attract a larger audience.
Stef  **  stef@cat-and-dragon.com **
    ** cat-and-dragon.com/stef ** firecat.livejournal.com **
it works better for me to moderate the stress in my life and supply
plenty of relaxation time all along than to accumulate stress and then
take allegedly healing vacations.  i started to think whether there
wasn't such a thing as yo-yo healing, and whether it wasn't just as bad
for one, maybe, as yo-yo-dieting. -- piranha


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)

Thank you for sharing your response. Your clarity helps me to see beyond my anger at the "workshop."
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your support.
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Great letter! I also like piranha's quote about stress. I've often felt that instead of trying all kinds of techniques on stress, just dump the stressor.

This won't always work if the stressor is, say, death of a loved one. But it will work in many circumstances.
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
I love piranha's quote about stress. It's how I've always tried to live my life.
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
You are fabulous, and so is piranha.
Jan. 15th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks and yes!
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent response. Changing social attitudes is a lot like water wearing away rock -- it happens slowly, one drop at a time. But there have to be people who make the drops, and you're one of them.
Jan. 15th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Well said, and thanks.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
The bookstore owner did respond; see the comments in the other entry.
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written, and a model for us all.
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And it worked too, I got a gracious apology.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
*jaw drops* Bravo! Congrats on their reponse.
Jan. 15th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
This is a great letter. Thanks for writing it. Are you comfortable with their response?
Jan. 15th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I am comfortable with the bookstore owner's response because my main objection was that the bookstore appeared to be spamming, and I feel that they addressed that.

If the bookstore was not spamming and was in fact sponsoring the workshop, then I would have wanted them to address what I see as offensive workshop content. But if it's just a fellow business owner offering the workshop, that's not their job.

I don't really want to try to directly address the people offering the workshop. I suspect some of this will get back to them and if so that might be a good thing, but I am not confident they're open to the feedback I would have about the workshop content.
Jan. 16th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
That makes sense. It's also less clear to me how much of an audience the workshop organizers have, outside of the Kepler's mailing list, and thus how much broader impact one could have by fighting that particular battle. I'm often reluctant to take on efforts to change people's minds about things when I don't know that they're *either* receptive or influential; it starts to seem like effort that could be better expended elsewhere.
Jan. 16th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done! Your arguments are right-on and well-written.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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