I understand why some people find group coupon sites appealing. What I don’t understand is why Detroit was thrown under the bus to make a few lousy bucks.
Picture this: You open up your computer or turn on your smart phone one morning to find a lovely offer in your “In” box. A Royal Oak gun range is slashing the price on its Carrying a Concealed Weapon certification. And you’ll need that CCW, Dear Reader, because you live next to a cesspool of violent felons, murders and victimized citizens.
At least, that is the impression you get if you would have received the “Local Offers” email I got Monday morning. It is one of the most outrageous cases of fear mongering for profit I’ve ever had the pleasure to see.
Here’s the offer:
According to new reports, the Metro Detroit murder rate is up 15 percent from last year at this time – an all time high. Learn to protect yourself so that you don’t end up one of the almost 200 casualties the city has seen since last summer. Get your Concealed Pistol License/Carrying a Concealed Weapon certification at Self Defense CCW, with today’s special offer, and gain the tools to arm yourself against violent felons – at half off. Grab this deal before it’s shot!
After some searching, I came to a conclusion…Whoever wrote this ad lifted these numbers pretty much verbatim from local news articles, especially this one in The Detroit News. That’s bad enough. But that same person really doesn’t want to own up to what they wrote or explain the inflammatory nature of what was said.
I tried to track down the author, but the company that puts the ads together for the site just gave me the run around in a series of emails.
Then I called the gun range, and I spoke with Shawn Washington. He’s the owner — and he was pretty upset with the way it was wrote as well. He grew up in the city, still owns property there and went to school there. And he still spends time and money in the city.
Washington said he doesn’t want to tear down the city — his goal with buying the ad was to simply promote his work. The 25-year-old business owner heard about the ad from friends after it came out, and they too were surprised at its wording. His goal, he said, is to educate people about how to use self-defense, how to handle a weapon properly and maintain a weapon safely. He has been a crime victim, and he knows how it feels to go through that violation before and afterward.
Detroit may not be the safest place in parts, Washington acknowledged, but it is his home town.
One data expert I spoke with about the ad called the wording “disgusting” and said it is one more example of how crime statistics can be manipulated to show anything the writer wants. She recalled the Forbes survey a few years back where Detroit was named the most dangerous city in the United States. The data quoted in that story was old — and came with an FBI warning that it was unfair to use it to compare one municipality against another.
That Forbes piece had a great subhead…”Don’t end up on the wrong side of the tracks in these troubled places.” Golly, Mr. Cleaver, I’ll be careful treading into that big bad city of mine. I wouldn’t want to be victimized and turned into a crime statistic. Never mind I worked in and around Detroit for nearly 20 years, and I never had anyone even give me a mean look in that time period.
Detroit, like all big cities, does have crime. Its murder rate is abysmal when you consider all the facts. I know these things. Yet I still find this coupon so offensive, so detrimental to the city itself and all of Metro Detroit. We’re tarnished enough. We’re disparaged enough. Why would you want to push us even deeper into that quagmire ?
It’s so very low to try to sell something by manipulating fear, anger and mistrust of others. I shudder to think someone actually took this offer seriously and thought they would be safer if they had a concealed weapon on them when visiting Detroit. That is, if they would ever step foot in the city after reading something like this at all.