Until someone complained, LivingSocial not only “condone[d] prejudice,” it also “tolerated bigoted” and “hurtful behavior” by using an anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews as greedy.
Those are the words in the apology, above LivingSocial’s CEO and co-founder’s name. Either he did not mean that his company’s use of the dreidel as a symbol of greed is degrading, bigoted and hurtful, as well as an expression of prejudice, in which case the apology is bogus, or the language used in the online (but very hard to find) apology accurately reflects the views of LivingSocial’s head honcho. If that’s so, there should be even more housecleaning at LivingSocial than has been in the news recently.
But what could LivingSocial do about the problem, given that no one from the company present at the Oct. 26 event prevented, or put a stop, to the shame of degrading a religious group?
ENTIRELY PASSIVE APOLOGY/REFUND OFFER, INCONSISTENT WITH BEING ‘DEEPLY APOLOGETIC’
And here’s the third problem with the apology. Even though LivingSocial knows exactly who purchased tickets to its 7 Deadly Sins Halloween Party, and it could have sent out both an apology as well as a refund to everyone who attended, it did not do that.
Instead, only people who happened to read either the few news accounts of LivingSocial’s behavior, or people who happened upon its blog, would know that the company was “deeply apologetic” and was “offering a full refund to anyone who attended the event.”
The Jewish Press contacted LivingSocial in order to determine whether the apology for the Oct. 26 event was sent to all who attended the event, and whether the refund was automatically sent to the attendees. The response came from the MSLGroup, a “strategic communications company,” but it said that the responses could be attributed to Sara Parker of LivingSocial. A Google search revealed that Sara Parker, at least as of Aug. 1, 2013, is the spokesperson for LivingSocial.
Those responses made clear that the apology and refund were only made to a single person whose complaint was brought to the attention of LivingSocial.
But The Jewish Press was able to determine that LivingSocial knows exactly who attended the Oct. 26 event. Its reporter signed up with LivingSocial – the only way to speak with someone in their “customer service department,” which is what the apology instructs Oct. 26 attendees to notify about receiving a refund – a LivingSocial representative was able to tell whether a caller had attended the event or not.
When pressed about whether LivingSocial had remained passive in distributing apologies and refunds or had actively sought out attendees in order to ensure everyone understood that LivingSocial does not “condone” “bigoted and hurtful behavior,” the customer service manager agreed that LivingSocial chose to be passive.
In other words, an apology for using a Jewish symbol to represent one of the seven deadly sins, greed, was made in a way that symbolizes another one of those sins: sloth. And if King Solomon was alive now, no doubt an eighth sin would be included on the list, that of exhibiting religious or racial insensitivity.
Sloth and insensitivity, maybe 2014 will be less hospitable to both.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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