No Good Deed . . .

Burt Kempner

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“Marie was organizing a photo shoot over the week-end in which a number of women would disrobe and hold sample ballot forms over their lady parts. The caption of the photo was a play on Donald Trump’s infamous ‘grab ‘em by the pussy’ line, and the intent was to urge women to vote for candidates who would not try to control what they did with their own bodies.—Burt Kempner

Pinhead Angel 

By Burt Kempner

“Lady Godiva,” by John Maler Collier, 1897.

“Lady Godiva,” by John Maler Collier, 1897.

Burt Kempner

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2018—In late October 2018, I received a message from a Facebook acquaintance I’ll call Marie. Marie is an intensely interesting woman— Harvard Law grad turned sexuality and relationship counselor. She was writing to see if I knew of someone who could write a press release for her. I told her I’d be happy to do it and asked for the raw data. Which was: she was organizing a photo shoot over the week-end in which a number of women would disrobe and hold sample ballot forms over their lady parts. The caption of the photo was a play on Donald Trump’s infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” line, and the intent was to urge women to vote for candidates who would not try to control what they did with their own bodies.

I wrote the release, sent it to Marie and figured that was that. The following day, I got an urgent plea: “Have you ever organized a photo shoot? How do you do it?” Over the course of the day, I coached her through the process. Yes, you need signed model releases. Yes, it’s a good idea to provide food for all participants. The shoot went well. Good deed done; rest now, Citizen Kempner.

Over the next 24 hours, the damned thing goes viral, the media cover it including (God help us) Fox and Breitbart, the protesters create a Facebook page and Marie names me as an administrator. Over the next few days, I am inundated—and I mean, inundated—with hate mail. I tell Marie that while I support her cause wholeheartedly, I did not ask to be a page administrator. I am removed, and life returns to what passes for normal for me.

. . .  until a few days later, when a note from Marie appears in my inbox: “What next?”

At this point in the cartoons of my youth, I would take off, leaving Burt-shaped holes in the wall, fences, and shrubbery. Instead, I write “Encourage voter registration for the 2020 election,” pause for a while and hit Send. Then, following The Who’s advice, I get down on my knees. And pray.

Burt Kempner

About Burt Kempner

Burt Kempner has worked as a scriptwriter in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Florida. His work has won numerous major awards, and has been seen by groups ranging in size from a national television audience in the United States to a half-dozen Maori chieftains in New Zealand. His documentaries have appeared on PBS, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, CNBC, and European and Asian TV networks. He has two dogs, a cat, a wife and a son and is randomly kind to them all. More recently, Kempner has written three rather subversive books for children: Larry the Lazy Blue Whale, Monty the Movie Star Moose and The Five Fierce Tigers of Rosa Martinez. Visit his Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/burtkempner
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2 Responses to No Good Deed . . .

  1. Jean says:

    And let THAT be a lesson to you, you poor thing! This is funny, but, having a few of these helpful mentor moments in my past, I remember, as I read your piece, the sense of discomfort as the entire project spins out of control. I will look for your name on upcoming voter registration posts – ; )). Nice

  2. Burt Kempner says:

    Thanks, Jean. From now on I plan to be an absentee voter :)

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