Letter to the editor: On Laurie Nelson-Barker’s “Be careful what you wish for”Letter to the editor: On Laurie Nelson-Barker’s “Be careful what you wish for”

After reading Laurie Nelson-Barker’s “Be careful what you wish for,” I have one question: Huh? Nelson-Barker is simultaneously supporting the #MeToo movement and arguing that doing so will somehow harm innocent men, children or animals caught up in a campaign of overzealous social justice warriors or conniving imposters riding the wave of change for their personal gain and vendettas. Are we really on the verge of a modern, global manifestation of “The Crucible”?

Nelson-Barker’s main concern with the movement seems to be that it’s coming from a place of anger. Well, of course it is! I know I can think of far more examples of social change and advances in equality starting because those in a position of oppression finally got mad enough to organize and fight injustice than I can examples starting with apathy, indifference, or even joy. Anger can be a powerful motivator when it comes to drawing a line and taking action for a cause facing powerful opposition. There’s a reason we often illustrate anger as fire or flames; it has a way of starting as a spark and growing quickly into a force to be reckoned with.

To haphazardly throw some anecdotal examples of the dangers of false accusations at us to serve as justification to slow down or question the powerful voices that are raised for change is a red herring. Nelson-Barker shares several stories of presumed false claims as examples of the collateral damage caused when people are angry and want justice at any cost. She references a story passed along by a friend about a man serving a life sentence for inadvertently touching a five-year-old girl inappropriately without any context or specific references, leaving the critical thinkers out there wondering what the rest of the story might be.

Nelson-Barker also references the Ohio case of a transgender teen seeking refuge with his grandparents and implies that the teen is making false abuse claims to serve his own purpose born out of anger. An actual review of that ongoing case reveals testimony supporting the teen’s claim that his parents are denying him therapy unless it is Biblically based and have at times advised the teen to kill himself rather than undergo hormone therapy. In the end, the case will be adjudicated by someone who will review the facts brought in as evidence, not by journalists or opinion columnists who cherry-pick only parts of the story to support their positions.

Nelson-Barker casts a pretty wide net in her attempt to caution women speaking up for the #MeToo movement that their stories may be appropriated by others with less than noble intentions. Using examples of a straight man turning down the advances of a gay man, then being accused of homophobia (again, by whom and why we are left to wonder), or of a transgender teen’s fight to live his life free of abuse seem like weak attempts to demonstrate that movements born of anger at injustice lead to widespread false claims and innocents caught in the crossfire. And the fact these stories are shared anecdotally with little or no reference starts to feel an awful lot like a “my cousin’s best friend’s nephew’s neighbor’s dog said so” kind of warning.

Nelson-Barker seems to be making the case that the risks of false accusations or too-quick judgements are so great that women should remain silent and accept the status quo. Personally, I’d rather have people speak up and see the kind of change that’s long overdue.

—Hunter Wolfe, Dammeron Valley

The viewpoints expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of The Independent.

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