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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on July 3rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 17

Don't wait to be told to have compassion

There are certain buttons of mine that, when pushed, reliably (predictably?) produce a column. It’s probably due to the fact that my great-grandmother on my father’s side was a parrot. I have a bit of the squawk in me, in case you haven’t noticed, and it doesn’t take much to get me crying out: “Political scandal! Political scandal! Raaawk!”

Let’s see: There are drought conditions and fire, which have popped up frequently in this space in recent weeks, especially with the 4th of July at hand. With the death of 19 firefighters in Arizona, though, I don’t think my grating voice would add much more of value to the ongoing national conversation, particularly in the parched West. I’m tear-stained and in awe at the lengths people go and the sacrifices they make to keep the rest of us safe.

Then there’s politics. Come election time—or when there’s any local-leader shakeup at all—you can’t shut me up. But aside from a recent San Luis Obispo special election (which, frankly, I didn’t care much about), the only big name currently on the books is the late San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Paul Teixeira, which is another somber case I don’t need to be touching on. The Nipomo-area vacancy left by his shocking death will hopefully be filled in a timely and responsible way, but in the meantime, I am, again, awed by people who give of themselves to tackle the thankless and often maligned task of governing the rest of us, of shepherding our money and resources in an effort to keep us healthy and safe.

And finally, there’s violence against women. Golly, but I’m picking a morbid batch here, aren’t I? Truth be told, the most difficult topics are often the ones we should be making extra sure we talk about. I don’t care for the sorts of attitudes and problems that breed in silence and darkness.

That’s why I was heartened by the bright ray of hope that came in the form of Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Senate Bill 400, which would require employers to treat domestic-violence victims as, you know, people in need of help, rather than headaches and liabilities. People in our culture—and I don’t want to say everybody, but there are plenty of folks out there who do this—blame women when they’re attacked, from alleging that they asked for it with what they were wearing to outright accusing them of lying about violence and worse.

Jackson’s been quoted as saying, “The bill puts ownership on the perpetrator, not the victim.” To that, I say, “Hear hear!” Or is it, “Here here!”? Or should that be “Here hear!?”? OK, punctuation and spelling aren’t my strong suit.

But I don’t care about that right now. I applaud any time I see someone willing to stand up and say, “What’s wrong is wrong. Let’s fix it.” It’s encouraging, but it’s also a little sad to think that we need an elected official to tell us that victims should get our help, not our scorn.

Are we really so bad off that we can’t be compassionate without legislation? I know there are a lot of readers out there who will read those lines and then point to the years-long Proposition 8 and DOMA debates with a slow shake of their heads. I’d write about that, too, but someone else beat me to the opinion page punch this week—and did so far more effectively and eloquently than I could have in this space.

While waiting for her bill to move forward now that it’s out of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, Jackson has also said, “I think it has a very good chance of passing. Most people are appalled … things like this still happen.”

You can add my name to the list, although I must say that I’m appalled but not surprised. I look forward to the day when we can all extend compassion and care as opposed to knee-jerk suspicion and blame. Until then, however, my buttons remain in an extremely pushable state. Thanks, great grandma.

Raaaawk!

The Canary wouldn’t mind a ride on a pirate’s shoulder. Send comments to canary@santamariasun.com.