Young people in cities like Baltimore may not like gun violence, but telling them that gun violence may shorten their lives does not seem to reach them. James Evans an advertising executive who was born in Baltimore and who wanted to try to reach these young people, mainly young men, did some research, mainly through focus groups. He found that the old adage of sex sells applied. If you tell a young man that guns could make him impotent, he is more likely to listen. So does the idea of living in a wheelchair, and since most gun victims do survive, the message has a chance to resonate. So Mr. Evans raised some money and had an ad that said, “We saved him but he’ll be pissing in a bag for the rest of his life. No sex and no kids.” He is now trying to raise $250,000 so that his ad campaign can be fully implemented. There are of course those who don’t agree with Mr. Evans, who is African American. His critics say the whole idea of linking sex with Black young men reinforces stereotypes that go all the way back to slavery. They also say that scare tactics do not work. Those young people need jobs, education, mentoring, mental health services. The police department is not sponsoring the ad campaign because they say they first want to know more about the research before giving an endorsement. They do however say they are supportive of any grass roots movement or idea such as this.
To say that such a campaign would interfere with job opportunities does seem short sighted. Whether as an adjunct, or on its own, the idea does deserve a larger try. It seems safe to say that James Evans will no doubt succeed in raising the needed funds and his campaign will bring results, whether or not they are those anticipated. Let’s all be glad.