Overstatement and Trivialization

A group in Arizona equates municipal limits
on the retail stores to the book-burning by the Nazis during the holacaust.
This kind of over-reach is all-too-common today. and This ad campaign
illustrates clearly the risk.

Overstatement is so common today it’s almost unnoticed, or at least, it loses its strength among some audiences. Calling Supreme Court judges equal to Ku Klux Klan members, for example, is very likely to drain the critique of these judges among those audiences in the mainstream middle. It energizes the core base of the right who are already convinced of the message. But it probably also creates a more aggressive opposition.

It’s not the imagery
itself. It trivializes
the Nazis and
what they did.
And to try to
attach that imagery
to a municipal
election goes beyond
distasteful.
–Bill Straus
Arizona regional
director for
the ADL

But overstatement continues. Now comes an ad in Arizona protesting a proposed municipal zoning ordinance that would limit the amount of space retail stores can devote to groceries. The ad equates limits on floor space to Nazi bookburning. Walmart has put $300,000 into the group protesting the proposed ordinance.

After the local Anti-Defamation League protested the ad, Walmart, caught unaware of the source of the image, has said it will apologize because the ad trivializes the Holocaust. But Walmart, never the less, approved the ad imagery and copy. Thus, it approved the tone. It’s hardly sufficient to say that ignorance of the source of the image changes the tone of the message. It’s still an overstatement that doesn’t hold.

Communication is about credibility and trust. Communication is always important. When passions run strong, how we communicate and what we say becomes even more important. In times like this, it’s all about the message. Better to be accurate and to set a positive tone than to apologize for your mistakes later.

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