Of course, I would be very surprised if the Watchtower Society ever retracted or apologised for anything. Still, it could gain a lot of publicity and put pressure on them to curb their hate speech. If they refuse to apologise, it could demonstrate that those statements were intentional and not just a slip of the printing press. It might even have some relevance to developing cases that are investigating whether they broke the law with their hate speech.
I wrote a rough draft. I welcome your comments. I thought it might be better to focus on the effect on those with real mental illnesses rather than make it sound like it's just payback for trying to intimidate a group of exmembers.
The signers of this petition object to statements in the July 15 Watchtower (study edition) that imply that mental disease is contagious, that mentally diseased people should be shunned, and that mental disease is caused by, or is the same as, disagreeing with a set of religious teachings.
We also think it was unwise for you to use the term "mentally diseased". It is often viewed as equivalent to mental illness, but implies that it is contagious (even without implying this directly, as in that article) and is an unnecessary insult to people who suffer from mental illness regardless of their system of belief (or unbelief). We also disapprove of how the article made no attempt to clarify these points, and instead used this term as a hateful slur towards a group who wishes to exercise their own rights of conscience and religious expression in peace, without harassment.
In particular, we take exception to the following statements:
We will need to discuss what to include.
We view the above statements as misleading and highly insulting. We are especially concerned that they may be taken seriously by some with inadequate education or excess zeal and may result in discrimination or other unlawful acts.
We request the following:
A retraction and apology should be printed in a future study edition of the Watchtower magazine. The statement should clearly state that mental illness is not contagious. It should state that mental illness is not a valid reason to shun someone. It should state that mental illness is not the same or caused by disagreeing with a set of religious beliefs. It should state that using the term "mentally diseased" could be offensive to those with a real mental illness and could be illegal hate speech when used against a minority in some contexts and countries, especially if the intent or context results in intimidation or the inciting to hatred or discrimination.
Since the original offending article was studied in public meetings around the world in a question and answer format by millions of people, we request that your apology and retraction receive the same treatment. The statement should appear in a study article with at least one question directed to the statement, so that those in attendance can comment on it.
This is a chance for you to undo some of the damage you have done. Your response will reveal to the world your attitudes about discrimination and basic human rights.
It may even help you to avoid legal problems that may result from that article.