For any of you who have a myspace.com account, here is something that may amuse you. This morning, I invited a local, tax payer funded organization to be a "friend" on myspace. This afternoon, I got a denial message from the Johnston County Arts Council's executive director. I have had my page up for some time and had a decent amount of visitors since it was created. My site is about me, my tastes, and my life. What is different is that I simply have an avatar for myspace (www.myspace.com/troylaplante) that has a little "vote4troy.com" graphic. The director thinks that adding my personal myspace page as a friend would appear to be an endorsement of my candidacy for town council, since the graphic shows up when someone sees my on the friends list.
If I had a picture of myself, a Star Wars character, Homer Simpson, my dog, the cover of a Playboy issue, Marilyn Manson, or even Charlie Manson, or a Budweiser, that would be fine.
I encourage you to add The Johnston County Arts Council as a friend on myspace. Later, change your avatar to your favorite Presidential candidate graphic, a Fred Smith for Governor graphic, or something political. See what happens. This is abject stupidity on their part, not to mention just plain an inaccurate double standard. OUR tax dollars pay for a bunch of the funding for groups like this. I couldn't care less about whether or not I have a friend on myspace. What I do care about is honesty, fairness, and the avoidance of sheer stupidity.
Here is their myspace page http://www.myspace.com/johnstoncountyarts
Here are the messages thus far, in order.
We can't approve your request to be a "friend" as I fear it would look as if the Johnston County Arts Council was endorsing your candidacy.
I can see your point but definitely disagree wholeheartedly. Just because I have a small jpg as a picture does not equate to an endorsement of what anyone does. My myspace page is not a candidate page. I have had it since long before I was ever running for town council here in Selma. Just a week ago I had a personal picture on that spot.
By using the same logic you just did, I guess that having the Arts Council on my friends list would appear that I endorse wasting my tax money on the "arts".
Sorry, but your point is ridiculous. If you have "The Flipside" on your friends list, it would seem that you endorse music styles that many seem to find inappropriate, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and prefer their business to other restaurants or coffee shops. By your logic, your having them as friends shows a formal endorsement of their business over others. The same goes for Tarheel Music.
If you are going to have a definite preference as to friends and consider someone showing up on your friends list as an endorsement, then as a tax payer here in this county, and since your organization is tax supported, I demand that you stop endorsing one business over another. Can you see how your own logic can be extended?
If a friend of mine who is on your friends list replaces their picture with one for Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton for President, would you immediately remove them from your friends list? The individual is not a business or candidate. My myspace page is my personal page and I am doing the exact same thing as they would be doing. If this is endorsement principle is the same, then I also demand that anyone who would put up ANY political avatar at any time be immediately removed or denied on your friends list, as this would seem to be an endorsement on your part, and I don't want my tax dollars paying for that.
By extension of your own policy, all of this only seems to be appropriate. If you would like, I will make sure that every one of my contacts in county government and the several commissioners that I know personally take an interest in your "endorsement" philosophy to help ensure that all that I just detailed is enforced. Each and every morning, it could become somebody's job to log into myspace and check each and every avatar of every friend you list for endorsements. We can also ensure that your organization no longer unfairly endorses one business establishment over another.
This could easily become a requirement before any funding comes your way. Since I can also easily pass this along to people in state government, the ACLU, and other organizations and competitors of the businesses you apparently formally endorse, we can take your own policy to the extremes.
I am illustrating absurdity by being absurd, but it could still happen. I personally could not care less if the Johnston County Arts Council is on my friends list or not. Your reasoning for a denial, however, just does not make sense nor site well with me. I have a lot of visits to my profile, my wife has participated in groups affiliated with your organization, we have been to several events you were instrumental in putting on, my web site promotes your group (maybe I need to take that link down now. I certainly will be taking your group out of the rotation to be on the front page spotlight), and was hoping that your organization would be getting more exposure as a result.
But, it is your policy, not mine. Tomorrow, I will start contacting my elected representatives on the county level and some restaurant owners. I will be putting this information on my web site(s) this evening.
By the way, I am not angry, upset, or anything of the sort. I am amused, however, and will play by your rules. It is, after all, your organization and web presence to govern.
Unfortunately it is the IRS policy, not the Arts Council's. According to IRS code 501 (c) 3, no non-profit can seemingly endorse a political organization or candidate on threat of losing their tax exempt status. It does not prohibit the endorsements of businesses or individuals, so we have continued to work with those.
If you have found people that I have added as friends that have changed their pages to a political site, please let me know and I will remove them.
If you would like to create a seperate page with information about your radio station and other personal information, I'll be happy to add you.
You have TOTALLY missed my point. The obvious DOUBLE STANDARD aside, my profile page IS NOT A POLITICAL PAGE CREATED FOR A CANDIDATE and never has been. Did you even bother looking? It is my PERSONAL page and always has been. It is about ME, not the fact that I am running for office.
I am very familiar with the IRS regulations to which you refer. Putting someone on your friends list on myspace.com who has an avatar in support of their favorite political candidate is in no way, shape, or form and endorsement. To think that it is just baffles me.
It would be one thing if you put a link on your own organization's web site pointing to my campaign web site, www.vote4troy.com and asking for people to support a candidacy.
You still have not addressed the issue, though you came close. If someone who has a personal myspace.com page and is on your friends list simply changes the picture on their profile (and that is ALL I have done), are you going to also consider that to be an endorsement of the reflected candidate and therefore remove someone from your friends list?
If the answer to that question is yes, then I am astounded by the sheer stupidity of that action. If not, then you are holding up an extreme double standard, which is one that I will certainly address with those who would need to know about such hypocrisy and lack of fairness. They just happen to be the same people who hold the purse strings that your organization depends upon.
Can you see the absurdity in this? Remember, it isn't MY idea, it's yours. It isn't even the idea of the IRS, since their regulations are not applicable, as you falsely have interpreted them.