Just wanted to pass along to all activists this morning a reminder that effective outreach depends on how we deliver our message.
We got a call this past weekend from someone who got our number from a sign the caller described as being very prominent (bright yellow) that is currently located in a residential neighborhood. The caller states that people who have lived in the neighborhood and invested money in improving the neighborhood for decades have to look at it every time they go in or out of their houses and don’t appreciate that adornment in that particular location. Of the owners of the sign, the caller expressed his opinion that “They don’t seem willing to live with their neighbors cooperatively… I’d like you to know they aren’t doing your organization any good, even though you probably are a good organization.”
We each have the right to do what we want with our property. We each have the right to speak our minds on our own property. However, we should keep in mind that how we voluntarily choose to exercise our rights is key to whether or not we get our message across to others, whether or not they find us credible, whether or not they feel friendly toward the message, etc. This is why we encourage activists to be actively friendly and polite when offering literature, not to use what could be considered offensive language, not to behave belligerently or annoyingly, not to leave literature on car windshields or other places where it will most likely be encountered as an annoyance and considered litter, and so on.
Keep in mind as you craft your activist strategies this year that juror education outreach is not free speech activism. Free speech activism is great, but that is not FIJA’s mission. Our goals are to inform everyone of jurors’ full rights and responsibilities, to persuade them to use those tools to deliver just verdicts whenever they are on a jury, and to pass the message along to encourage others to do the same. Achieving our goals depends on establishing a good rapport with our audience. Not every use of our property rights or our rights to express ourselves are conducive to those goals. We can’t please everyone, but we should each give some thought to our particular situations, communities, and actions to maximize effectiveness in pursuing our goals.