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Grapevine : June 2011
aagrapevine.org 33 ought to slow down, and problem drinkers–alcohol- ics–should not drink at all. In one of their trade associations, the question arose of just how this cam- paign should be handled. Of course they would use the resources of radio, press, and films to make their point. But what kind of a person should head the job? They immedi- ately thought of Alcoholics Anonymous. If they could find a good public rela- tions man in our ranks, why wouldn’t he be ideal? He’d certainly know the problem. His connection with AA would be valuable, because the Fellowship stood high in public favor and hadn’t an enemy in the world. Soon they’d spotted their man, an AA with the necessary experience. Straightway he appeared at New York’s AA head- quarters, asking, “Is there anything in our tradition that suggests I shouldn’t take a job like this one? The kind of education seems good to me, and is not too controversial. Do you headquarters folks see any bugs in it?” At first glance, it did look like a good thing. Then doubt crept in. The association wanted to use our member’s full name in all its advertising; he was to be described both as its director of publicity and as a member of Alcohol- ics Anonymous. Of course there could not be the slightest objection if such an association hired an AA member solely because of his public relations ability and his knowledge of alcoholism. But that wasn’t the whole story, for in this case not only was an AA member to break his anonymity at a public level, he was to link the name Alcoholics Anonymous to this particular educational project in the minds of millions. It would be bound to appear that AA was now backing education–liquor trade association style. The minute we saw this compromising fact for what it was, we asked the prospective publicity director how he felt about it. “Great guns!” he said. “Of course I can’t take the job. The ink wouldn’t be dry on the first ad before an awful shriek would go up from the dry camp. They’d be out with lanterns looking for an honest AA to plump for their brand of education. AA would land exactly in the middle of the wet-dry controversy. Half the people in this country would think we’d signed up with the drys, the other half would think we’d joined the wets. What a mess!” “Nevertheless,” we pointed out, “You still have a legal right to take this job.” “I know that,” he said. “But this is no time for le- galities. Alcoholics Anony- mous saved my life, and it comes first. I certainly won’t be the guy to land AA in big-time trouble, and this would really do it!” Concerning endorse- ments, our friend had said it all. We saw as never before that we could not lend the AA name to any cause other than our own. Bill W. The Tradition Six story was originally published in the October 1952 issue of AA Grapevine magazine and later appeared as part of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. GRAPE_31-33.indd 33 4/29/11 4:23 PM