Column: Nothing should be safe from criticism

You’ve all heard stories, I’m sure, about supposedly non-profit organizations tricking kind-hearted donors into giving away their money to what they believe is a virtuous cause. Instead, these organizations take these funds for only their own gain.

This is why the Federal Trade Commission started Operation Phony Philanthropy in 2003. They wanted to protect consumers and ensure they could give to legitimate charities without fear of getting scammed.

It shows there is nothing, not even philanthropy, we should not scrutinize.

On April 4, The Daily Eastern News ran a letter to the editor titled “Flash mob column was offensive, disappointing.”

This is part of the letter: “I’m extremely offended by the April 1 article, titled ‘Philanthropy flash mob a big flop’. I’m somewhat disheartened that, when the flash mob was covered in DEN, it was done in a negative light. I feel that when the word philanthropy is involved, there should only be positive support. I just hope in the future the writers at the DEN will consider the ‘truth’ they are not afraid to tell and consider the tone of their articles.”

While I don’t necessarily agree with the column this letter concerns, I completely disagree with withholding negative comments from anything, even philanthropy.

It may shock readers to know that sometimes people lie. Sometimes they have ulterior motives and sometimes they may not be seeking the best interests of others. For this reason, we still need scrutinize those claiming to do good.

I’m not saying the organization involved with this flash mob did anything wrong or is anything less than completely legitimate. But even charities that seem completely honest should not get a free pass.

Uncritical acceptance under the banner of “a good cause” leaves us na’ve, and others are free to take advantage of our sensibilities.

Newspapers have the investigative tools at their disposal to uncover these types of corruption. But this is not just a journalist thing, this is a responsibility of those who want to be ethical consumers and citizens.

This goes for anything, not just charity. We need to constantly analyze our surroundings, the organizations we are involved in, the things we buy and the actions we take.

In moderation, skepticism isn’t a bad thing. It can keep us from being manipulated.

It’s possible to do this without being pessimistic; most of the time I hope you find that things are as they seem.

But be wary of deceit. Stay curious, stay safe. The truth is there, but sometimes we have to dig for it.

Seth Schroeder is a freshman journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812

or [email protected]