The events of this last week which took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, have left most people angry, upset and outraged. We have all seen the video clips and images of the rally and counter-protest which led to the death of one woman and two state troopers and left 19 others injured. I watched along with everyone else and felt a profound sense of sadness as I wondered what happened to bring our country to this level of hate and outrage.
On Monday night, I received an email from a No Kill contact in Texas. He wrote to warn me that a common contact of ours who led a non-profit organization had been "outed" as having been present at the white nationalist rally. I thanked him for telling me, but didn’t take any steps to look into it. My first reaction was that surely this was a case of mistaken identity. I told myself I would look into on Tuesday morning. As I watched the evening news, I heard a news story about people being "outed" on Facebook using video clips and images of the rally and violence. The story reported that people were being encouraged to call out those people who attended in support of the "Unite The Right" rally if they saw images or video clips of people they knew. I was sure that there was some error. Surely no one I know would attend a rally in support of bigotry, separation, discrimination and separation.
I was wrong.
Most of us interact with people in our lives with whom we do not share they same political beliefs. That truth has been no more evident in my life than in the last year. The political divisions in our country are wide. I keep my beliefs to myself for the most part. I know there are people with whom I have little in common in terms of my political positions and I tend to just stay in my own lane of travel and let other people do the same. There is a vast difference between having a general awareness that someone you know has vastly different political views than your own and having any concept at all that they would align themselves with groups of people whose values are both repugnant and intolerable to most of us. It was suggested to me that many of the people who attended the rally in Charlottesville did so in order to stand up for free speech and protect Constitutional rights. I firmly believe in the First Amendment right to free speech. I just draw a line personally when that speech is hate speech of the KKK, white supremacists and Neo-Natzis.
I had no idea.
I have never met Debi Day, the founder of No Kill Nation, Inc. We have connected by email and on social media. We’ve interacted about No Kill philosophies and about issues related to breed bans of pit bull type dogs in Miami-Dade county and across the nation. I held her in high regard due to her commitment to advance No Kill philosophies to save the lives of shelter animals, much of which was shown through her financial support of No Kill Conferences and her financial support toward the production of the documentary film about the No Kill movement which was released in 2009. I was acquainted with her due to common interests, but I would not say that I really knew her.
On Tuesday morning, August 15, 2017, I severed all ties with Debi and with No Kill Nation, Inc. I have absolutely zero tolerance for the behavior of any person who promotes, defends of enables voices of hate, bigotry and separation. I will not be associated with that behavior in any way. Period. The No Kill Nation website and Facebook page are now gone.
I fully recognize that there are opponents of No Kill philosophies and opportunists who are using the revelations about Debi Day’s behavior and associations to try to taint the entire No Kill subject. There is really no discussion to be had on this topic. The No Kill movement is bigger than one person. It is bigger than Debi. It is bigger than me. To those who are trying to discredit a social movement the focus of which is saving the lives of animals, I say this: you are wasting your time.
No Kill advocates across the country have already banded together to continue to speak with one voice to end the needless destruction of healthy and treatable animals in our nation’s shelters using tax dollars and donations even though many of us are grieving. If you are so incredibly outraged by Ms. Day’s behavior, as am I and are my peers, do something productive with that outrage. Get involved in our own community. Speak out for what you value in your own life. And speak out for the shelter animals who need you to be their voice. Saving lives is not a partisan issue at all and it has nothing at all to do with politics beyond holding municipalities accountable for how they spend our money. I stand in solidarity with other No Kill advocates across the country who have spoken out against Debi’s behavior and have severed ties with her. I stand for animals who need my help and for advocates who are working incredibly hard to bring about reform in their own communities.
Think about what you stand for and then go do something about it.
(rally image courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch)
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson