I hesitate to even publish this post because:
- As Koffijah pointed out, we are so often motivated by outrage and not compassion, and I’m really struggling with that.
- I don’t want to encourage anyone to visit the website, because that only helps the marketing campaign.
- I don’t want to be defined by what I am against. I want to love what is good and hate what is evil. I also want to hate the sin but love the sinner.
In case you’re interested, some of the items you can purchase for Tim are: a ham sandwich $3.50, cheeseburger and fries $4.00, GQ Magazine $6.00, karate lesson $45.00, 1 YR Wall Street Journal $125.00, Laser Hair Removal $130.00, 8G Ipod Mini $130.00, Gym Membership $300.00, BlackBerry Bold $500.00, 2 Semesters at University of Houston $10K.
And here’s their slogan (I guess):
Using Internet Marketing to Fight Poverty…Priceless
I would also like to point out the “Live Bum Cam” as they so eloquently call it has not been up at any time I have visited the site. Perhaps they’ve moved on to what they would consider bigger and better bums. But I’m not going to go back there and check, regardless.
Alas, keeping my mouth shut is not one of my spiritual gifts, as you may have already surmised. I really wanted to post emails sent to me from the father and son team behind this campaign. But my husband strongly advised me not to do so, and I know he’s right. (Dang it!) I think it’s okay to say that they were both very polite and said that they understood my anger at the project. I don’t think they could ever convince me that somehow the end will justify the means, but on that point I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I will however, tell you what my email said to them:
Yeah. That’s hilarious. Glad the demoralization of a fellow human being is so very amusing to you. Your impassioned pleas for helping Tim get off the street don’t hold much weight when you ask him to hold up a sign that says “Pimp this Bum” and let people know he needs a sharpie and a cheeseburger.
Ah, well. Chalk one up for the dark side. I have friends that were spending time with Tim and his friends, helping them as they could, and treating them like human beings. (Were you aware that they actually are human beings?)
I would be wasting my time to tell you that you should be ashamed of yourselves. Clearly you have no shame.
As difficult as it is for me to do so, I’m praying for you.
(I left out a portion of the email only because it mentions Tim’s location specifically, and I didn’t want to post that.)
I would like to again stress that both men were extremely polite and courteous in their correspondence with me. They also assured me that Tim was “in on the joke”. But I’m at a loss as to whether or not they were sincere in their comments. I would also like to say that while I have yet to meet Tim personally, based upon what my friends have told me he well spoken, is an intelligent, caring, generous and compassionate person. It also does not escape my attention that while Tim looks like someone who lives on the streets, he is young, attractive, has good teeth and does not yet show the harsher physical attributes of someone who has spent a few more years on the streets. I’m fairly confident that this observation did not escape the attention of the marketing guys either. After all, who wants to pimp an ugly homeless guy?
There are so many things that bother me about this viral marketing campaign. Probably first and foremost is that even discussing it will in all likelihood cause their hit counter to rise, which is the desired effect. The hit counter doesn’t measure your distaste for the content, and interestingly enough, there is no comments section. Ultimately, it is my belief that they feel this experiment will look good on their resumes, attract advertisers and help Tim in the process.
I don’t know what will happen to Tim. I truly hope that he gets off the streets and begins to live a life full of hope. If this campaign allows that to happen, then good for him. I only hope that all parties involved understand that money does not address many of the reasons Tim is living on the streets in the first place.
I am continuing to pray for Tim, his friends, and the thousands of people who will sleep without a roof over their heads tonight – many of them women and children. I would be grateful if you would do the same.