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Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished

This is one of the many reasons I loathe the neo-prohibitionist groups. Perhaps you saw the press release from Anheuser-Busch, detailing how they, along with many others, are trying to do what they can to help the people of Haiti, who were devastated by the recent earthquake that hit their country. They sent cans of water, hastily filled at one of their breweries, as they’ve done during other similar emergencies (I recall they did the same for New Orleans after hurricane Katrina). They’ve had plenty of negative publicity lately — some even from me — so I wouldn’t think anyone would begrudge them trying to win back some positive vibes for what really amounts to doing the right thing. That’s really what we hope any of us would do under the circumstances.

Except that you’d be wrong assume that no one would begrudge them. Those jolly folks at the Marin Institute wasted no time in admonishing Anheuser-Busch InBev, not for sending the water, but for using branded cans and for issuing a press release. In their own press release issued today, Help for Haiti Should Not be Branded, they claim that “most of these generous people are not putting out press releases about their good deeds.” I don’t know if that’s true and frankly, if those same people aren’t putting out press releases, then how can the Marin Institute claim to know about them or that they constitute a majority of the donations to Haiti’s disaster relief? How can they total up the anonymous donations that are, by definition, anonymous?

But they’re not done with their scolding. Next, they say most people making donations (of goods, one presumes) “are [not] branding their donated goods with their personal monikers” and asking the leading question “why does the beer behemoth need to brand the cans of this much-needed water with its corporate logo?” Well, I can think of one very good reason. Who would drink blank cans or cans just labeled “water.” I’d want to know where the water came from, who canned it to know if it was safe, etc. That just seems to be common sense. It would be counter-productive to can water with no information about its whereabouts or origins so people could judge its safety. I don’t want to go too far here, but a logo works better when not everyone speaks the same language, too. That way, even if people can’t read the can, they may recognize the logo and feel safer opening it as a result (though they may be disappointed it isn’t beer).

But the Marin Institute then concludes by saying ABIB’s efforts are “more than a tad distasteful,” calling their simple press release “bragging,” and suggesting that doing so “really does diminish your brand.” Wow. I thought there were no new depths that they could sink to in attacking alcohol, but boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong. So here we have a beer company who switches gears and spends their own money to create and donate much-needed water to Haiti. They have the apparent temerity to tell others what they’ve done, perhaps in part to inspire others to do likewise, and they also had the apparent gall to let the people they’re helping know who the water came from. Um, excuse me, but what exactly is the problem here? They helped. They did something. What exactly did the Marin Institute do to help the people of Haiti, apart from discouraging others from doing likewise, lest they also incur your misguided wrath. Or are you better than ABIB simply because whatever donations the Marin Institute gave were among the anonymous kind, you know, the better kinds of donations.

Do you honestly think the people Haiti give a rat’s ass where the donations came from? As long as they get enough to eat and drink so they can, you know, live, what possible difference could it make to anyone. Unless of course, you’re looking for absolutely any excuse to demonize your enemies and further your agenda. You criticize ABIB for issuing a press release, but that’s exactly what you did, too, using the opportunity to galvanize your supporters. But when you do it, it’s for a good cause, right? When ABIB does it, they’re shameless. This is seriously one of the ugliest and vilest demonstrations of how off the reservation the neo-prohibitionist groups are. Criticizing a good deed because it wasn’t done in the manner you’d prefer, or more correctly, by someone you already don’t like. You ought to be ashamed of yourself and your behavior. As they say, let no good deed go unpunished.

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