Can We Fight NSA Surveillance By Honoring Suicide?
When I first came upon the Day We Fight Back web site, I wondered why hadn’t heard about the idea before. A national day of activism to oppose Big Brother sounds like just the sort of thing people would want to talk about, right?
The Day We Fight Back is February 11 – this coming Tuesday. That’s really soon.
When I looked again at the site this morning, and read the press release announcing The Day We Fight Back, I found one reason the protest event is having trouble gaining steam. The day of activism, it turns out, is being held by a coalition of activist groups… in order to honor one their former leaders who killed himself.
The idea of honoring a person who committed suicide, rather than continuing a life of activism, casts a strange tone over the entire event. How are we supposed to promote the event? How can I write an article urging people to show up and get involved in an event that honors somebody who decided not to be involved any more?
Death is as far from activism as a person can get. One of the organizers of The Day We Fight Back writes that “If ____ were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings.” Of course, the activist in question is not alive, because he chose not to be, which means he chose not to be on the front lines, and chose to stop fighting back.
I don’t know the details of the suicide of this activist. For all I know, he might have killed himself after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, or something like that. I could understand a suicide under such circumstances.
The Day We Fight Back isn’t sharing those details, though, and so we’re just left to wonder, and to feel mighty uncomfortable about the ambiguity. How can we celebrate the life of someone who chose suicide, when we don’t even know why that person chose death over life?
I don’t mean to cause offense to friends of the suicidal activist, but the people who created The Day We Fight Back haven’t just called attention to their friend who killed himself, they’re calling for us all to pay attention to their friend’s suicide… and celebrate it.