It becomes your issue when it becomes your issue

It really does not matter what the topic is. Inevitably, when someone speaks out on an issue, usually after a terrible human-made event, some trolls will come out and complain that those people ought to have spoken out on the issue sooner. This is absurd.

People often, indeed usually, become aware of an issue, and eventually speak out when it affects them personally. It’s human nature. Think of the founder of MADD:

Candice (Candy) Lightner is the organizer and was the founding president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.lightner On May 3, 1980 Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunken hit-and-run driver at Sunset and New York Avenues in Fair Oaks, California. The 46-year-old driver, who had recently been arrested for another DUI hit-and-run, left her body at the scene.

Should Candy Lightner have been campaigning against drunk driving BEFORE her daughter was killed?

The trolls would say yes.

Ditto the parents of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. To suggest they should have spoken out before is a straw man argument. These are parents of now dead six year olds who probably didn’t see themselves as activists.

My particular irritation was most recently generated by the criticism of Richard Martinez, father of one of the six young adults killed around the University of California at Santa Barbara in May 2014. He may not have been a crusader before his son Chris died, but he is now. And it is BECAUSE of the tragedy that he, and people like him, survivors or relatives of some senseless act, are more likely to be heard, sad to say. Richard Martinez now has a pulpit that he just didn’t have the month before. Perhaps it’s the CONTENT of his criticism, against the National Rifle Association, among others, that have some suggest that he ought not be heard at all.

But, as I’m trying to note, this isn’t specifically about Martinez. It’s about the nattering nabobs of negativism who would stifle involvement of concerned citizens by criticizing their timing.

4 thoughts on “It becomes your issue when it becomes your issue”

  1. I’m SO with you on this (no surprise, I know…). It absolutely does become “your issue when it becomes your issue”. I had the same reaction to the crass partisan political attacks (for that’s all they were, in my opinion) on Robert Martinez. ALL of us tend to care about a thing when it becomes OUR thing, and seldom before then.

    And, p.s., I’m sad that I may be among the few of your readers who knows where “the nattering nabobs of negativism” comes from…


  2. Parents who become activists after their children are killed or murdered tragically and senselessly can’t be compared to NIMBYs (not in my back yard) who only become activists long enough to keep undesirable developments and undesirable people away from their own properties, but care not one bit about the people who live down the road in the next neighborhood. As for Mr. Martinez, I was rather awestruck at how the murder of his son has widened his vision of the world. NIMBYs are all about keeping what they already have. Mr. Martinez, according to his own statements, realizes that he has lost what is most important to himself and can lose what he has left at any moment. There is nothing left for him to defend. No one can accuse him of being selfish.


  3. I probably am guilty of this way of thinking at times. When I hear of a tragic shooting by someone that was mentally unstable or participating in activities that will obviously predispose them to violence, I always wonder why those around that person didn’t take action before they acted on their decisions. It might help avoid these instances if others would be more aware and pay attention to *red flags* in behavior or mental state.


  4. @ Lisa,

    I just want to say: what can you do even if there are red flags?

    You can’t imprison someone against their will for acting weird or having “red flags.”

    You can ask them to get help, but if they don’t want help you’re at an impasse.

    Ever tried to get an alcoholic to get help when s/he didn’t want it? I imagine it’s about a million times harder with a potential killer.


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