"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Letter to the editor

Unfortunately, papers have word limits in their letters to the editor.  Here's the longer version.

I am sure you could imagine my surprise the other day as I pulled my mail out of the box to see a picture of my six year old son on a political campaign.  Interesting, no one had contacted me about using my son’s imagine.  I didn’t give my permission for that.  (And no, this was not a random crowd shot-this was just a political candidate and my son, close range)
It was increasingly ironic to me that he was used as propaganda for increased public school funding, specifically all day, everyday, funded kindergarten.  Ironic because he doesn’t go to a public school, we home school.  I guess maybe the teacher’s union aka MN DFL is now in favor of school choice?  Perhaps it would be a tad bit different if I supported the ideals that my son is purported to endorse by his imagine.  But I don’t.  I am paying for public school education which he doesn't attend, and I pay for all the materials he needs for his education at home as well.  That average of $2500 a year the ad said they save an average family, doesn’t get saved here.
The picture in question was taken as a personal picture.  Mary Sawatsky thought it was neat that I had nine children.  During a local parade she saw us and asked to take a picture with our number seven as she herself was a number seven of nine.  I didn’t think too much of it.  There was never any mention that the picture was for anything other than herself.  Of course, she never asked to put it on her personal Facebook page either, but I didn’t think anything of it when I first saw it; it was just Mary’s page, not Mary Sawatzy for State Rep’s page.
Of course the flyer in question came from ProgressForMN.com, and was prepared and paid for  by  the MN DFL party, so she didn’t “endorse it”.   I know she didn’t pay for the literature, she told me in an email that she hadn’t even seen it.  So it would seem that the DFL went to her personal page, plucked a random photo (which I have since asked her to take down) and used it in their ad.  Couldn’t agree more with John Burns: “(However,) it is naive not to understand that there is a winking relationship between the candidates, their political parties, and various outside groups who pay for the advertising.”
Truthfully though, this isn’t a DFL or Republican or political issue even.  I would just be as upset  if any ANYONE used my minor children in an advertising campaign  without my permission.
I suppose you can give me some bull about that anything on Facebook is public.  But that is what it is-bull.  Yes you can see it, but you still can’t use it for your own exploitative purposes without permission.  There is plenty of legal precedence for that (Chang vs. Virgin Mobile).
This is a matter of privacy, the right of people not to have their (or their children’s) likeness used in an ad without permission.  Even if Mrs. Sawatzky had given away her rights as the photographer of the photo, she can not give away my son’s rights.  There are three elements that must be established in a legal claim for unlawful use of name or likeness:
  1. use of protected attribute (in this case, my son’s identity)
  2. for an exploitative purpose (political gain)
  3. no consent (I did not give)
No parent wants to see their child used as a tool for propaganda, especially something they don’t believe in or support.  Maybe I will have to look closer into my options.