Friday, February 16, 2007


I'm sure everyone has read the 12 Commandments of Flaming long before I did. I'm citing them because they are a good example of irrationality that one deals with in the PR business. When one gets an opponent who is convinced of his or her position, there is no reasonable argument that will do anything other than make the person more angry. Yet, there is no gain in falling into the mud with the Flamer to wrestle. The best thing is to walk away and leave the Flamer with his or her opinion.

Unfortunately, there are professional flamers, especially in politics on all political sides. They largely speak to their own crowd of conspiracy theorists, but they also annoy those who seek reasonable discourse. The temptation is to tell them to shut up, but they won't. We have to learn to tune them out. Sadly, tuning them out doesn't make them go away. When a Flamer dominates discourse, the Flamer kills online discussion and prevents reasonable discussion elsewhere as well. They have an impact on citizens who do listen to them, and many of these citizens vote. So, whether one likes it or not, there are times when PR must deal with bigots. I believe the best way to handle them is to hedge them in with reasonable argument targeted to influentials. Others may disagree. There is no easy solution.


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