Monday, 4 July 2016

Ethical variation

I love the variety within humankind. I genuinely enjoy the vast variation in appearance, character, beliefs and behavior. It makes life more interesting. Can you imagine how dull life would be if we were all the same? If we lived in some Maoist dystopia where everyone dressed the same, carried their little red books and did exactly what they were told to do?

Luckily life isn’t like that. It certainly isn’t in Botswana. We have some incredibly bright, intelligent and professional people. Unfortunately, we also have some more “interesting” specimens of humanity, some who are a little less intelligent and bright.

On 24th May this year I removed this post from the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group. It was posted by someone who said:
“Do you have a problem with your health lifestyle, want to gain or loose weight, have hair problem, skin, immune system problem, eating disorders, want build muscles, are u a sports person and need more energy… or you simply want to join and help change other live better lifestyle… Herbal life products is the products to go.”
After giving his contact details he wrote:
“Take a step and change your lifestyle, nothing is impossible with herbal life products.”
I’m sure you can guess why I wasn’t too happy about the post remaining in our group. Firstly, we don't permit advertisements in our Facebook group. Not ever. We certainly don't permit advertisements or endorsements for Multi-Level Marketing schemes in the group. The promises of "better lifestyle" are simply untrue, as almost everyone knows by now. Herbalife's own published figures prove that the vast majority of recruits make nothing from the scheme.

Perhaps more importantly we object to any claims that any product can help with medical conditions such as "immune system problems" and "eating disorders". They are lies and I know that Herbalife agree with me about that. I know because Herbalife have told me so when we’ve contacted them in the past when their local representatives have made similar claims.

After removing the post, I sent the person who posted it a message. I admit that I was perhaps a little short-tempered following his post. I said: “Please don't post MLM marketing nonsense and lies in the Consumer Watchdog group.”

A few days later I got a reply. See if you can make any sense of it. It said:
“Uhu..."nonsense "? No wonder your msg hs been filtered, u so full of yoslf and arrogant, that's not how you suppose to talk to people... I had respect for you so dont ever send me such msgs, dont cz first of all im not a thief nor a scammer,im also a law inforcer for your own information...”
I haven’t been able to confirm whether he is indeed "a law inforcer". Perhaps he’s actually a law "enforcer"? I took a look at his Facebook profile which suggested that he works at Central Police Station in Gaborone. Maybe he’d be better placed enforcing the law instead of peddling miracle cures?

There’s also been a lot of discussion in our group about a Chinese herbal medicine company called Green World. One of their proponents posted a message inviting people to join their multi-level marketing scheme and help to peddle their products. The problem is that Green World sell products that it is illegal to advertise in Botswana.

They claim, for instance, that their Cardio Power Capsule can "reduce the burden of heart and its oxygen consumption; expand the coronary artery; alleviate the chest stuffiness, suffocation, pericardia pain; prevent angina, arrhythmia, and myocardial infarction; and to treat coronary heart disease".

Their Green World Immune Care Package is apparently "Suitable for ... People has immunodeficiency acquired condition such as HIV/AIDS" and that it "can greatly boost immunity, detect tumor cells, as well as improve general wellbeing of people who has HIV/AIDS."

Another miraculous product is their Green World Cancer Care Package that apparently can "help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tutor size."

Their Green World Nutritional Diet Care For Diabetes People (their English, not mine) can apparently help "eliminate symptoms of diabetes, restore function of the insulin, and improve normal secretion of the insulin cell."

Green World, as well as many other companies peddling miracle cures should know that advertising such products in Botswana is contrary to Sections 396-399 of the Penal Code of Botswana. The law specifically outlaws “any advertisement of any medicine” for a range of conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a lot of others.

Of course companies like Green World will concentrate on harmless protein powders and vitamin pills but I believe that it is fair to judge a company by ALL of the products they offer, particularly when those products are a clear and present danger to our health. I think it’s fair to say that companies offering these products, even if they don’t currently sell those particular products in Botswana have some serious questions to answer. Do they really believe the claims the company makes? Do they really think their products can cure all these diseases? Have they been nominated for a Nobel Prize for Medicine yet? If even half of their claims are true, they deserve one and probably the prize for Peace as well.

The most entertaining bit of this occurred when I SMSed one of Green World’s local reps asking him to confirm if their products could really do all of these things. He confirmed some of the claims but when he managed to identify me he said:
“you are richard harriman and m going tothe police officers now”.
Variety is, as they say, the spice of life and this is just as true for humanity as any other aspect of life. The danger with it though is just as there’s variety in height, skin color, shape and size, there’s also variety in people’s ethical behavior.

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