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Video Urging RIers to Stop Complaining From RI Foundation Draws Criticism

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

 

Clockwise from top left: Chris Barnett, Justin Katz, Alec Beckett, and Mike Stenhouse.

A video promoted by the Rhode Island Foundation as part of their "What's Next" campaign is urging Rhode Islanders to stop complaining, stop blaming, and stop trolling -- and has met a less than favorable response by some in the state. 

The video, produced by Nail Communications, features kids reading expletive-laden Tweets that are actual quotes from Rhode Islanders, who then tell people to "be nice, or be quiet."

SEE VIDEO BELOW

"Rhode Island Foundation Tells Rhode Islanders to Shut Up and Take Their Medicine," wrote Justin Katz with The Ocean State Current in response, taking issue with the message delivery.

"The message from the people who produced this slick video...is that we're not being nice, that we're being dismissive," wrote Katz.  "That we should just shut our traps and not complain about the treatment to which the powerful in our state subject us or when they do things like impose new fees, take away our rights, and slush around money sucked from our economy in a corrupt whirlpool (or when they use non-profit organizations to push political agendas) or blame them when things continue to go wrong, year after year.  We’re just “trolling.”

MORE BELOW VIDEO

Mike Stenhouse, the CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity wrote on the issue for the Current as well.

"It is further immoral that the Foundation seeks to subvert the voice of the people in their implied endorsement of the status quo politics in Rhode Island," wrote Stenhouse in his piece, "RI Foundation's Sneak Attack on Free Speech." 

"Stop complaining about Rhode Island’s 48th place ranking on the national Family Prosperity Index? Stop complaining that so many of our neighbors cannot find or have given up looking for meaningful work? Stop complaining about the political corruption that continues to embarrass our state? Stop complaining about the lack of bold and decisive action to do anything significant about it?" asked Stenhouse. 

About the Spot

Nail Communications produced the minute and six second spot, which the Rhode Island Foundation has featured on its YouTube page and in email communication. 

The video begins with kids reading lines from anonymous Tweets, including, "What a [expletive], when I see her face I get annoyed," and "He's such a piece of [expletive] I hope someone cuts his brakes." The expletives are "bleeped" out. 

The kids then go on to say, "Stop, just stop. Stop complaining, stop blaming, stop trolling." 

“We’re proud of our work funding programs and services that benefit hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders. Our Centennial campaign celebrates the thousands of visionary donors and nonprofit partners who make that possible. Rhode Island is better place for their commitment. We’re honored to give them a platform to speak their minds,” said Chris Barnett, spokesman for the Rhode Island Foundation, of the Nail video. 

Nail's Alec Beckett addressed he criticisms -- and fired back. 

A snippet of the video.

"First, this video isn't the RI Foundation's opinion. It’s mine and some co-worker’s. Everyone donated their time because it was a message we all believed in," said Beckett. "Second, the irony of people angrily complaining because they think others don’t want them to angrily complain is thick."

"Third, saying that the message of this video is to repress free speech or public debate is a deliberate and cynical misinterpretation. The intent is the opposite—challenging those who are abusive, bullying, racist, etc. to stop repressing constructive dialogue. Heck, every child who participated understood that," said Beckett.  "I will defend to the ends of the Earth your right to express your opinion—whether I agree with you or not. But if your participation in the public discourse involves cruelty, insult and racism, then yes, I guess I would prefer you keep your thoughts to yourself."

Katz responded to the rationale.

"The message of the video is extremely broad, and the only specific behaviors mentioned are 'complaining... blaming... trolling.' The video does not say 'stop being abusive, bullying, and being racist,' said Katz on Monday. "In that regard, this response only further serves the point we're making: that these self-styled righteous elites see no distance between complaining and assigning blame and being cruel and insulting.  They only want dialogue if it is 'constructive,' which means affirming the legitimacy of the people who've harmed our state so egregiously."

Taking State Connections to Task

Katz took issue with Nail's ties to the state, including getting a state contract. 

"It’s interesting to note, though, the group behind this video, NAIL Communications, because it’s received almost $2.5 million from the state government through HealthSource RI, our ObamaCare health benefits exchange, over the past few years," wrote Katz in his Current piece. "So, yes, shut up and pay your taxes, you nasty Rhode Islanders, so that people who think they’re better than us can get big paydays from government ventures that limit our freedoms as well as redistribute our money."

Stenhouse was critical in turn of the RI Foundations role in public policy. 

"The RI Foundation has turned its attention towards public policy, where it has been a supporter of multiple far-left, government-centric and federal intrusions into the affairs of Ocean Staters," wrote Stenhouse. "The Foundation has been a frequent and close public partner with the Chafee and Raimondo administrations. It was a major supporter of the controversial RhodeMap RI agenda and it largely funded the related Brookings Institution report that recommended massive crony-corporate subsidies."

 

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