Online petition sites, on which anyone can start their own appeal for support for a cause in which they are interested, seem to have taken off in the last couple of years.
But, be warned, once you sign one petition, you will get email after email from the sites aiming to get you to support more of them. Of course, you can stop these unwanted emails but many people will be reluctant to do so in case they miss a petition that they would really like to sign.
This first grabs hold of you after you accept an invitation to sign a petition for a cause that you feel is worthy of support. And that is where the problem lies with these sites.
For example, once you have signed a change.org petition online, it sends an email thanking you and suggesting other petitions you might like to support. However, often these petitions are for totally dissimilar causes.
That’s ridiculous. In this computer-led world, indeed you might even say computer-dominated, it should not be beyond the bounds of any online petition company to assess the causes you have supported in the past and only offer similar ones after that. Of course, that will be easier once someone has signed a few.
So, when faced with being asked to sign a petition for a cause that doesn’t interest you or with which you disagree, you just ignore it. Another site, care2.com acts in the same way and there are plenty of others. What’s more, emails offering updates on petitions already signed will almost always ask for monetary donations to further their causes.
Whether any petition, let alone an online one, has any real impact on the decisions of those in authority is a moot point when, in reality, decisions are based on a rage of factors not a petition. The wording of some petitions leaves a lot to be desired and on others the demands made on one person ignore what is already being done.
A petition recently online referred to the case of a 74-year-old British man who has been in prison in Saudi Arabia for a year and now faces 350 lashes that, it is feared, may kill him. The petition calls upon UK Prime Minister David Cameron to do something. The fact is, though, that his government is already doing all it can. A petition is just not needed and will not help the man avoid the lashes. Perhaps a petition to the King asking for clemency would have been more likely to help but, then again, probably not.
What was this man’s crime? He was arrested after homemade wine was found in his car, not a criminal offence in most countries but this is in Saudi Arabia which is a Muslim nation. A simple mistake, you might very well think, but he has lived there for 25 years, he must have known that he was breaking the country’s strict laws.
To be sentenced to so many lashes does seem an excessive punishment for anyone to endure but that is another matter entirely – and not the subject of this online petition.