ACORN is once again in the news. This time it is because two employees were taped giving advice about prostitution and how to evade the IRS. ACORN was last in the news because of concerns about fraudulent voter registration.
The video was created by conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute. The employees in question are said to be seasonal, part time employees and not ACORN officials.
Obviously, the fact that the employees were willing to give such advice is a matter of concer. However, the implications of this video must be properly considered.
First, while the employees were ACORN employees, there is the question of whether or not they presented ACORN’s actual views on prostitution. It seems that they did not, since they were fired for unprofessional behavior. Also, there were several attempts to run the same sting at other ACORN offices that failed. As such, the most reasonable inference is that the employees acted on their own and revealed their own ethical views rather than those of ACORN itself. To think otherwise would be fall victim to a rather hasty generalization. This would be on par with thinking that all Republicans commit adultery because of that governor’s little “walk along the Appalachian trail” or to conclude that all Republicans are uninformed and rude because of Joe Wilson’s actions.
Of course, it does show that ACORN probably needs to work a bit on how it screens its employees. After all, ACORN had problems with part time employees who provided fraudulent voter registration forms. ACORN officials, it must be noted, were the ones who informed the government about the irregularities in question. If they had been involved in a plot, they would have hardly brought these problems to the attention of officials.
Second, there is the question of how “honest” the video actually is. The video has been edited and fades to black in some areas, leading one to wonder about the whole story. The Daily Show illustrates how a little creative editing can change how something appears, so that is something that should be kept in mind. Of course, it should also be kept in mind that the video might have simply been edited on reasonable grounds and that it does show events in an honest and accurate way.
So, what does the available evidence support? The most reasonable conclusion is that the ACORN employees acted on their own and do not represent ACORN’s official views. In light of the problems ACORN has had in the past, it does show that ACORN should review its hiring practices. Of course, even the best hiring practices can let in bad apples.
It should not be concluded that ACORN is itself for prostitution or in support of evading the IRS. Now, if the video had shown ACORN policy makers offering such advice, then the matter would be quite different. But, the evidence needed to show that ACORN has a policy of advising prostitutes and pimps is lacking.