Does the Message Trump the Method?

Delivery is probably the most important part of the message. It determines whether you’ve correctly assessed your audience and your level of dedication to having your opinion considered. If you deliver your message in such a way as to offend the listeners, they may come to hate your message instead of embrace it. So, the question is, are you willing to speak to your audience in a way they will hear and respect, thereby convincing them and persuading them of your argument? Or is the only proper delivery for an arguable message a contentious one? Or does the message trump the method?
For example, yesterday on my way through the Liberty tubes during morning rush hour, there were anti-abortion activists on every corner wielding 6 x 3 foot graphic billboards of aborted babies. Severed baby heads pinched between forceps. Bloodied dismembered baby arms and legs. Infant images dwarfing the grown men and women parading them. “Abortion at 20 weeks, Abortion at 30 weeks,” they informed an unwilling and involuntary audience.
If you know anything about the Liberty tubes during rush hour, you know that the average sit-time just outside the entrance is roughly 20 minutes. For 20 minutes, mutilated dead babies assaulted my sensibilities. What’s worse – my five-year-old daughter was inflicted as well. How do I help her purge those images from her mind? How do I purge them from my own? How do I – how can anyone – support an anti-abortion mentality when it looks like that?
The thing about graphic images is that in most cases people are given an opt-out. You can choose to watch the censored TV version if you want to avoid all the blood and guts. You can put nanny-control on your computer to alleviate the offensive and potentially disturbing pop-ups. Even email programs provide the option of displaying or hiding images. Movies have ratings so that you know whether you’re willing to commit when you enter the theater. The point about it all is that you can CHOOSE. You can subject yourself to as many or as few disturbing images as you like. And to be honest, I feel like these activists exploited their right to free speech and expression violating my right to filter the garbage that enters my head.
Does the (potential, questionable, uncertain) end justify the (overbearing, patronizing, exploitive) means?
Communication is a two-way street. If you just hurl your beliefs at people with no thought for how or whether they can catch them, you might as well chuck a brick off the Eiffel tower and pray you don’t wallop a pedestrian. If you want to persuade people to your mindset, you have to woo them, seduce them. Give them something they want to agree with. I for one, don’t want to agree with anything having to do with maimed babies. They’ve lost one. I could have voiced my stance in favor of their cause, but not now.
So what’s important, the pure message? The message beats all, come what may? As long as you say your piece, collateral damage can rot?
I don’t buy it.

One thought on “Does the Message Trump the Method?

  1. I totally agree. I was constantly harassed by those signs while working in Pittsburgh, always on the corner of Washington and Allegheny River Blvd.
    Opinions and negotiations go hand in hand. Both try to get someone else to come over to one side and arrive at some type of agreement. These little people wielding giant signs do not accomplish this, nor do I believe that they will ever.
    Working for a health system does not automatically mean that you are desensitized to that type of material. Not that the sign wielding voices ever knew this…
    Their only hope was to levy some type of shock value to those passing lambs in their steel cages. However, the opposite effect was most likely inflicted.

    Like

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