Tailor Your Message


     Always consider your audience.
     I was walking away from the Burbank courthouse last week when I spotted a large banner posted outside a corner building. It said: “Learn to Read” above a phone number.
     It occurred to me immediately that this advertising message might be lost on its intended audience. After all, if you were to be informed that this educational service was available, you had to be able to, well, read.
     OK, it’s possible that this banner was being aimed at friends or relatives of the illiterate, but I see problems there too.
     First off, did these well-wishers need to be reminded by a sign on the street that their loved ones could use a little education? Shouldn’t those who could read be able to find teachers in, say, the Yellow Pages or that connected computer thing?
     But even if they hadn’t thought of reading lessons before, how do you broach the subject with your friend-in-need? Do you point at the sign and say, “Look! There’s a great idea. You could learn to read.”
     “Why do you say that?”
     “That sign says ‘Learn to Read.'”
     “No it doesn’t. You’re making that up.”
     “Yes it does. It’s right there.”
     “You expect me to fall for that?”
     You can see the problem.
     Now consider this sentence from a press release issued last week: “The American Council for Patient Liberty would like to invite Tea Party members and advocates to contribute to the movement to end excessive government regulation and reign in spending by state and county officials that could thwart the will of voters in any manner.”
     A reasonable appeal to the correct audience?
     Take a moment to see if you can guess what sort of government action this group is opposing.
     If you guessed a crackdown on medical marijuana, you cheated and read this sentence first.
     Yes, the American Council for Patient Liberty apparently thinks the Tea Party is the right audience for its message favoring medical marijuana.
     Picture Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann lighting up joints and leading chants for freedom.
     I’d like to see that.
     Maybe in front of a “Learn to Smoke” banner.
     
     Matter of Interpretation
     I’ve got to get my mind out of the gutter.
     Family law cases continue to entertain. Check out a Florida one called McCord v. McCord in which the couple signed a settlement agreement that included this:
     “Use of airplane – The wife shall be entitled to use the husband’s airplane for up to four hours per month for 24 consecutive months and he shall cooperate fully, and she shall be responsible for showing her appreciation to the pilot. …”
     I can’t help it – an obscene act immediately comes to mind.
     Oddly, in what seems to me to be a completely unwarranted act of judicial notice, the court comes up with another explanation: “Ms. McCord will be responsible for showing appreciation to the pilot, generally understood to be a tip.”
     Some judges lead a really boring or sheltered life.
     Still, I recommend reading this ruling for the many fascinating but unanswered questions it generates. The main one, of course, is why would anyone take an argument over a few hours in an airplane to an appeals court.
     And why, as explained in the ruling, was this an “experimental” plane that the Federal Aviation Administration allowed only the husband to fly?
     Is the husband a cyborg and the plane a plug-in for his synthetic body?
     Now consider flying in an experimental plane piloted by an ex who hates you (but may want appreciation). The only way this makes any sense at all is if the experiment was really cool (or obscene).
     If I’m the wife’s lawyer, I’m advising her to bail – unless, of course, she shows me some appreciation.
     Now get your mind out of the gutter.

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