The Empty Red Envelope Conspiracy Theory July 14, 2009

The Empty Red Envelope Conspiracy Theory

Earlier this year, several pro-life individuals participated in a project called the Red Envelope Campaign in which they sent an empty, red envelope to President Obama at the White House. There was a message on the back saying that the envelope represented an aborted baby. This was supposed to get Obama to change his policies.

Right… Obama reads ten letters a day, hand-picked for him. I’m sure the empty envelopes just went into a separate, “special” pile before being discarded. (Does Obama’s call to reduce the number of abortions means nothing to pro-lifers? Yeah, I know… dumb question on my part.)

Anyway, one pro-lifer who participated in the Red Envelope Campaign just received a letter from the White House. She expected at the very least a pre-written “thank you for your letter” response, a form letter of sorts.

It turned out the envelope was empty.

What does that mean?!?! The conspiracy theories are beginning:

So, is this just some kind of mistake? Was there supposed to be a letter responding to my concerns about FOCA or my concerns about the genocide called abortion that remains legal in this country (and could become even more protected under the law as our current President seems to want it to be)? Or should I feel… mocked, perhaps? After all, I did send them an empty envelope myself, representing one life lost to abortion, one life that was unable to have its voice heard by our elected officials in Washington. Getting an empty envelope in response… is that their way of saying, “No response — we don’t care. That life is still gone, and we remain silent on the matter.”

Or someone just made a mistake. Is that possible?

Even if you despised pro-lifers, which I don’t and I certainly don’t think the President does, why would you try to piss them off even more? It’s certainly not the politically correct thing to do.

But I suppose it’s more entertaining for them to think this was the White House’s way of not taking abortion seriously:

If some snarky intern did indeed think this would be a fun way to get back at pro-lifers, I think Chris and his wife are owed a second letter — an official apology.


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  • «bønez_brigade»

    Is the red envelope supposed to represent an aborted fetus in a transubstantial sort of way?

  • Hey, I’m all for mocking their dumb asses. You think it’s clever to waste people’s time by sending them empty envelopes? That’s like these douche bags that send in tea bags to congressman. It’s a condescending, smart-assed way of letting people know that you are completely powerless and nobody cares what you think. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to send an empty one back to ’em; I just think they’re reading too much into it.

    For one, you think everyone is going to immediately recognize this red letter BS? Most people probably just go, “WTF? A red envelope with nothing in it. Weird.” And toss it. There might be one person who thought, “Hey, if she sent an empty envelope, I wonder what would happen if we sent her back a “reply” in that same vein?”

    Hardly something worth apologizing over…yeesh.

  • I wonder when that couple will send their empty envelope for every child that dies simply because they have no health care, like Deamonte Driver.

    Make no mistake about it, there is nothing “pro-life” about the anti-choice movement.

  • The Vicar

    It could have been worse; they could have sent a reply written on recycled red paper.

  • She sends an empty envelope to someone and he sends an empty envelope back, and it’s a conspiracy?

    Oh, the irony!

  • stephanie

    This has urban legend written all over it. I’m skeptical.

  • Thilina

    I think the white house should just tell them to apologize for all the empty letters they sent and then the white house will apologize for the one that was sent out.

  • Bo

    This is hilarious.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    I think the funniest part of the linked blog post is where the dude [judging from arm hair] is holding open the empty envelope [which could be any envelope, fwiw], with the caption, “See? It’s really empty!”

  • Andrew

    Maybe the empty envelope was to represent another poor woman in an area far away from a clinic who wasn’t able to get an early abortion because of a waiting period? Or maybe it was to represent a woman with a fatally disfigured fetus who was forced to carry it to term because doctors are being scared out of performing late-term abortions.

    What a bunch of jerks.

  • Delphine

    I despise pro-lifers. I despise them as much as I despise Hitler and PETA.

    People like them, who have so little human decency and so little compassion for their fellow humans, absolutely disgust me on every level. Mere ideals mean more to them than another person’s life or quality of life. Their moral high grounds and religion are more important than other people’s lives. If I have to speak to them, I feel like my brain cells are dying and being poisoned. Their very existence make me barf.

    I’m just not as extreme as them so I can’t go out and bomb them the way they bomb abortion clinics. Pro-lifers get as many abortions as pro-choicers, because they believe “their case is special” and deserve to be an exception to their ideology.

  • Jen

    That is awesome

  • postsimian

    That is friggin’ hilarious! Whoever sent it back to that pro-life nut deserves a diamond-studded medal.

  • Give the White House mail room staff credit for some intelligence…they can google “red envelopes to white house” as easily as the next person.

  • J. Hilfiger

    I think that we should call them anti-abortioners, not pro-lifers. Pro-life seems as if they are superior to the contrary. They do not deserve an apology, they are wasting someone’s (un)paid time by opening an empty envelope.

  • Tom

    If I worked at the white house mail room and received an empty envelope, I would be terrified that it contained trace amounts of anthrax or something similar. I can’t believe the people who created this campaign didn’t consider that such envelopes would seem threatening to their recipients. As such, they deserve to be roundly excoriated.

    That said, I recall a story about someone who sent a letter that said merely “?”, and received a reply that said merely “!” . If they’re going to be stupid enough to send empty envelopes to the white house, where to they get off complaining if the white house replies in kind? They seem to be admitting to their own stupidity by claiming that the white house is “mocking” them by sending an empty envelope to them, when it’s exactly what they did in the first place.

  • Sending an empty envelope seems like a pretty meaningless gesture. How will this stop someone from getting pregnant? Or using birth control? Or cause someone to abstain from having sex? Or help someone adopt a child?

    The absurdity of the so-called “pro-life” movement hit me during the Terry Schiavo episode. I saw a segment on TV about a guy being arrested for trying to bring a glass of water to Terry Schiavo. (Maybe it was a bottle or a cup. Who knows?) I would not be surprised if he later went to his church and bragged about getting arrested for “making a stand for life”.

    When I went to church I heard quite a few speakers brag that they spent a night in jail for trespassing/protesting at a clinic. These people did not commit violence, but they were quite proud of themselves for being defenders of the unborn.

    But what good does any of it really do? If Terry Schiavo had the ability to drink out of a glass of water, she would bot have been in that hospital in the first place.

    I think a lot of these “pro-life” people are doing what they do to make themselves feel good. They are doing nothing substantial, but still tell themselves they are doing something.

    Plus they never seem to care for people after they are born. How pro-life is that?

  • revatheist

    I think that the empty envelope sent back really “contained” the destroyed freedom of women to control their own bodies should the anti-abortionists win the day. Personally, I think that all the members of these supposed “pro-life” groups should be rounded up by the government tied down to tables and have their blood, plasma, extra kidney, extra lung, etc. forcefully removed from their bodies in order to help other people who need such people–isn’t that what they want? After all, if a fetus is a “person” with full rights like they claim, then this is no different from forcing a woman to give up her blood, nutrients, body cavity, etc. all for the sake of another “person”. They dream of taking away a person’s right to their own body, but I bet they would back off fast if it was their own bodies being forcefully fed upon.

  • Epistaxis

    Uh, I missed the part where the White House had any idea that the original empty envelope had anything to do with abortion.

  • Maybe they owe the White House an official apology for the empty red envelope they sent? They might have hurt the White House’s feelings.

  • Closet Atheist

    I guess no one remembers high school US Civics class?

    Official letters from the White House (and I have one) have Barack Obama’s printed signature in the upper-right hand corner INSTEAD OF A STAMP. The very fact of the stamp in the usual position indicates that this is a hoax.

    I guess THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR (Exodus 20:16) isn’t in their Bible.

    See the stamp?

    I rest my case.

  • I think it is definitely a conspiracy. Either the postal service is responsible or manufacturers of envelopes (red and plain) is responsible. I think there should be an investigation. No expense should be spared. A commission should be set up. No-one should be excluded from investigation. The truth must be found, it simply MUST.

    I mean…good grief. What an empty gesture.

  • At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, could she be making up the story? That is to say, perhaps she didn’t receive an empty envelope, but thought it would reflect ill on the WH to claim that she did.

    In fact, the following comment is taken from her blog:

    ==START OF QUOTE=====
    Closet said…

    Having received an ACTUAL letter from the White House, I know that letters from the President are ‘frank’ed and would not have a stamp on it. This is a fake, and you are running a hoax.


    You’ve committed a Hell-worthy sin? Over politics? You’d better hope I’m right, or you gonna be burning with me.
    3:09 AM
    ==END OF QUOTE=====

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Or should I feel… mocked, perhaps?

    Go with it.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    <iI think the funniest part of the linked blog post is where the dude [judging from arm hair] is holding open the empty envelope [which could be any envelope, fwiw], with the caption, “See? It’s really empty!”

    Reminds me of the “empty tomb” argument for Jesus’ alleged resurrection.

  • I laughed pretty hard about this. Even if it’s fake (which certainly sounds to be the case right now) it still amuses me.

  • TimothyJosephWood

    I say we start a campaign to send empty white envelopes to the white house. Each one representing one masturbation and the 500 million sperm a piece dying on the battlefield that is that old t-shirt over in the corner. Their silent voices cry out for retribution.

  • Zar

    It would have been better if the White House had mailed them an unwanted special needs baby with severe behavioral problems.

  • Ashley

    “I think that we should call them anti-abortioners, not pro-lifers. Pro-life seems as if they are superior to the contrary.”

    Actually, most people who are pro-choice tend to refer to them as anti-choice, because in most cases they want to eliminate a woman’s right to choose at all. As can be seen by the Democrats for Life group recently ousting a pro-contraceptive member, they literally do wish to eliminate all choices aside from giving birth. They care about the fetus, sure, but they care more about it than they do the woman’s right to choose any other option for herself.

    On a blog I read, they run a “top troll” competition, and one of the fundies who trolled said something like “doing anything to not get pregnant is like shaking your fist and god and cursing him for his blessings” or some shit.

  • That is totally crazy.

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