The Right To Be Heard


My friend CJ touched on this in her I Have a Voice, You Have a Choice post this morning, and it’s actually something that’s been on my mind, so I’m going to share my thoughts.  It sort of stems from my recent post about Noah’s Dad and the hoopla it generated both here and on Facebook – but it’s really bigger than this.

Speaking up for something one believes in is not something that should be squashed or stepped on by anybody.  Advocacy often involves being a dissenting voice among the masses.  It sometimes means going out on a limb and voicing something important but unpopular.

Does this take guts?  I don’t know.  I guess in some situations I would say so – like when my teenage son speaks out to his peers about using the R-word.  That takes guts, because being an adolescent among other adolescents who view conformity to the masses and popularity as paramount, it takes someone with a strong sense of himself and his own principles to stand out against the crowd.  Did I feel gutsy when I wrote that post about Rick Smith the other day?  Not really.  I’m just speaking out about something important to me (and apparently to a whole lot of other people), and maybe at my age I don’t care as much what people think of me as I do the issues.  I knew full well there would be dissenting comments, and I’m totally fine with that.  I don’t need to have everyone agree with me, and I’m not trying to win any popularity contests; just being true to myself.

What bothers me is that nobody who spoke out against my post really had anything significant to say about the substance of what I wrote.  None of them denied or were able to explain or justify the particulars of what I wrote about how Noah’s Dad has conducted himself (and for the record, it was never about silencing Rick’s voice; it’s about his stepping on people left and right and inundating scores of people with the Self-Promotion Machine that is Rick Smith).  Instead it seemed to be more about a few people feeling that what I had to say wasn’t worth saying – or hearing.   I just find it interesting that there always seem to be people ready to jump into the mix only to say that the discussion itself is ridiculous, silly, wrong, or a waste of time.

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone agreed on everything and life was all sunshine and peace and love.  But it’s not. And some people find controversy and confrontation so distasteful that they run from it as fast as they can – and that’s fine.  Other people say they don’t like the controversy and the stirring of the pot, and yet, there they are right in the thick of it, waving their arms saying “This is a stupid conversation!  It’s a waste of time!”  To those people I ask: why are you here in the midst of it then?

Agree or disagree – doesn’t matter.  The main thing is that the discussion is worth having.  When you speak out, you often find that you are voicing the feelings of many, and there is value in that.

Apparently a lot of people care about what Rick Smith has done over the last year or so, and it appears that speaking out about it and opening up discussions about it has had an impact.  Someone appears to be listening.

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3 Comments on “The Right To Be Heard”

  1. Alyson
    January 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Lisa you have inspired me to be the advocating Mom I am today. Your fearless advocacy from the beginning( the nasty R word on a certain site?) was gutsy whether you want to admit it or not. Since then you have continued to speak up whether or not it was the popular opinion. I didn’t know back in 2008 that a little over a year later I would start my own journey with Cullen. Though our ” diagnosis” differed,I knew I wanted to model myself after you when it came to speaking up for him. Last night at a heavily attended board meeting I did that
    again. My opinion on special education is not
    necessarily a popular one in my community and I always start out poised then lose it emotionally,but,I did it.
    So here is to standing up and voicing what you believe in. Thank you

  2. meriah
    January 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I completely agree with you – it’s not a personal thing, it’s just an honesty thing. I hardly ever read comments that come before mine (maybe I should?) but I am usually astonished by how something can be conveyed in one way and taken another. It reminds me of that telephone game, the one where you’d see how garbled a message could come out as. You know?

    I, too, don’t much care about Noah’s Dad, I don’t care if he stays. i think there is room for us all. It’s not about his “success” or anything other than the way he is going about it all.

    As a person who has long been active in the disability rights movement, I’m a little irked that someone so clueless is also the one giving advice. I don’t want to get into “the village fool” thing; I just want to forge ahead believing that he’s going to be a flash in the pan and hope he enjoys his moment that he screwed up so many virtual relationships to get.

  3. CJ
    January 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I never consider voicing my opinion as brave. My life isn’t in jeopardy. My liberty isn’t affected. The worst thing that can happen is I can be trashed, bashed and bad-mouthed. Oh well.

    I completely feel you on this post! Too bad people can’t discuss the issue instead of getting their panties all up in a bundle!

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