Although some folks were upset by the insensitive tone of the mass e-mail sent by Dr. Harold Koplewicz to everyone who complained about the Ransom Notes ads, I view it as a positive sign that the NYU Child Study Center took less than a week to advance from the ignoring us stage to the laughing at us stage. (By way of contrast, it took Autism Speaks more than a year to realize that they couldn't just ignore us in the hope that we would all go away.)
In his letter, Dr. Koplewicz has this to say:
"Ransom Notes" may be shocking to some, but so are the statistics: suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24, and serious emotional problems affect one out of 10 young people, most of whom do not get help. The strong response to this campaign is evidence that our approach is working. We acknowledge the challenges faced by individuals with these disorders and their families. We hope to both generate a national dialogue that will end the stigma surrounding childhood psychiatric disorders and advance the science, giving children the help they need and deserve. We want this campaign to be a wake up call. Please join the dialogue.
Here's a strategic point to ponder: The fact that Dr. Koplewicz acted so quickly to compose a mass response to our letters is a clear indication that we have deluged him (and other influential people at NYU) with enough e-mail, snail mail, faxes, phone calls, etc., to make him feel very uncomfortable. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't have bothered to answer us at all. That means we're doing a great job, people, and we need to keep the heat on—and, if possible, turn it up a notch or two.
If you have already written a letter of complaint to NYU, send another one to make sure they clearly understand that you have no intention of taking crap like "[t]he strong response to this campaign is evidence that our approach is working" for an answer. It looks like Dr. Koplewicz has the mindset that one can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs—or, in this case, that one can't effectively advertise mental health services for children unless one first destroys the hopes, dreams, and spirits of said children and induces mass panic and vicious prejudice by means of misleading and sensationalistic ads.
The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has made contact information available for various people associated with NYU and the Ransom Notes ads. (I suggest copying Dr. Koplewicz on all letters sent to anyone concerning the Ransom Notes ads, so that he can clearly see the extent of the worldwide revulsion these ads have caused.)
Also, tell your relatives and friends about NYU's ads and ask them to send protest letters as well. Write about these disgusting ads on your blog and on whatever forums you visit. If you know anyone in the media, either in the New York area or nationally, ask them to cover the story. Contact disability rights groups and anti-stigma campaigns such as NAMI's Stigma Busters. If you know any NYU alumni, ask them to inform the university that it won't get another dime of donations from them until it pulls the ads and issues a public apology.
We'll just see how long Dr. Koplewicz continues to put up a brave front and pretend that widespread public outrage is "evidence that [his] approach is working."
As Barack Obama mentioned not long ago, in reference to a certain overconfident opponent—some folks have made the mistake of declaring "Mission Accomplished" a little too soon.