UPDATE 9/10/10 1:30 PM: Barbara Streisand and anti-Muslim bigotry (see end of post) Yes, after that post that admitted our P*rn problem and tried to get out of it, the problem has gotten even worse, like rapidly. The original post Famine Afr*c* stereotype p*rn shows no letup has now climbed from 4th to 3rd most popular post of all time.
I guess we have learned the hard way the #1 rule of the science of Public Relations -- don't do anything to give more legs to a story that you really want to go away (which I am further violating with this very post). I'm not too embarrassed about not understanding PR, since I have never met a single PR person who understood Economics as anything other than the sworn enemy of good PR. (Both sciences DO have in common a spontaneous order in which ACTIONS OFTEN HAVE THE EXACT REVERSE OF THE INTENDED EFFECT.)
Not only that, but most PR people themselves don't understand the #1 rule of PR. Just think of all the defensive, angry, clueless responses from PR people defending their organizations, which play right into the hands of their critics and INCREASE the negative publicity (Catholic Church abuse scandal, Climategate, etc.) Actually, Aid Watch has gotten much needed publicity for the cause of Watching Aid from many such clueless organizational PR responses to our own posts.
I guess it's only poetic justice that we are the victim of my own PR ineptitude about making a bad story disappear.
UPDATE 9/10/10 1:15 PM: Thanks for the great comments, you are making me realize this is deeper than I thought.
Please read the link to the Streisand effect, in which Barbara inadvertently caused more publicity about herself in an attempt to stop publicity.
The analogy to the B*rn*ng the K*r*n story is very apt. All those critics and public officials who understandably piled on that nut in Florida with 50 followers gave him exactly what he wanted -- lots of publicity for the cause of H*t*ng M*sl*ms. Newspaper stories pointed out today that nobody had ever heard of him and his stupid and hateful ideas until the critics started piling up. So the effect of lots of criticism is to cause exactly what the critics were trying to prevent -- a major backlash among Muslims worldwide as they hear about this one obscure idiot.
Two reactions: (1) what a great example of the law of unintended consequences! (2) what a moral and pragmatic dilemma! do you denounce a bigot if your denunciation is going to increase the effect of his bigotry?