As a matter of fact, well-behaved people of all genders are rarely the ones who are most instrumental in effecting any sort of important social changes.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a reality that it usually takes getting in bad guys’ faces loudly, and sometimes quite aggressively spreading the word, in order to rectify conditions in society and anywhere else that are unjust, discriminatory, and just plain wrong.
Look at the Suffragettes and the civil rights movement as just two examples that were even more extreme in their tactics than any anti-design legislation groups or proponents will ever be. It often takes people who are willing to put their own necks on the line, to risk everything from their reputations to their freedom to their very lives to stand up for what’s right, and protect the rights of all.
It takes repetition and yes, even loudness to get the apathetic to even pay attention, even when it’s their own interests at stake – and make no mistake about it, legions of designers have been incredibly apathetic about this issue, especially those who are most likely to be affected. Once they hear about the realities, though, they are sitting up and taking notice in droves.
Following my post about the Michael Smith situation, I received an email yesterday from a colleague who shall of course remain unidentified, criticizing me for essentially being as outspoken as I have been against design legislation, telling me my behavior is “unprofessional”, as well as “abrasive [and] combative”, for posting about it the way I do, which I’ve done in various venues.
I’m certainly not trying to make any kind of history, and frankly, I’d much rather spend the time I spend working against legislation on a whole lot of other things, including building my own design practice and the new patient advocacy business I want to start, taking care of my very sick brother and father, and blogging about the more fun aspects of interior design, but there comes a time in life when you’ve got to speak up for what you believe is right, and to protect the rights of others, even if the issues at hand will not affect you personally. And even if it brings the wrath of others down upon you.
I reached that point about a year ago, after several years of debating back and forth about the value of legislation, and studying both sides of the issue in great depth. I’ve written extensively about my thoughts on this subject both on this blog and elsewhere, including some of the listings on the CADAL and IDPC websites. Not all are attributed to me, but my thoughts are there. Eventually, I’ll get the CADAL site updated with more of the most current information.
Unfortunately, more sedate and quiet methods of trying to dissuade ASID and its legislative partners from their destructive paths have not worked. Until roughly sometime in the last year or so, their actions went unopposed, and people who disagreed with them had little recourse, as well as few others with whom to even discuss their dissent.
But now, there is a very strong grassroots opposition movement that is gaining steam nationwide, dedicated to spreading the word about how legislation is anticompetitive and only serves to harm the very designers and even the public whom its proponents claim to want to be protecting. The word is getting out – the truth is getting out. And there’s been an avalanche of support from every corner.
And the word must be spread. IDPC has been doing an amazing job of reaching a large segment of the design community, especially Allied ASID members and students, but there are still tens of thousands of others who need to know what’s going on, that will affect their livelihoods. Joni at Cote de Texas has done a bang-up job of alerting a lot of people to the issues and how they are playing out in Florida in her superb post “ASID: An Agency Out of Control” and other bloggers such as Laurie at Kitchen Design Notes have also done a huge amount to help. Patti Morrow of the Interior Design Protection Council is tireless in sending out email blasts, which are archived at http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs060/1102107213116/archive/1102156670830.html and there are dozens of other equally dedicated people who are posting all over the blogosphere and Twitterland about the issues, many of them in terms far less complimentary than any I have used. At least one has posted a quite obscene (although wickedly creative and funny) image graphically displaying her feelings.
And frankly, for every person I’ve encountered who disagrees with what we have to say, I’ve met many, many more who are applauding our willingness to stand up and put it all on the line, to fight for every designer. Every day, we are hearing from more and more people thanking us for the work we do, for helping them realize that they are not alone, and that they can fight back – and they can prevail.
In the past 2-3 years alone, something like 50 separate pieces of legislation have been voted down, vetoed, struck down as unconstitutional, or otherwise legally challenged or eliminated, because legislatures all over the country are recognizing that there’s simply no just rationale for this kind of law.
The Emperor has no clothes; we are just pointing that out – and we are winning, because the truth speaks for itself, and almost always triumphs, once people’s eyes are opened.
I used to think I’d miss out on a lot of networking and working with nice and talented people by not being associated with ASID, and the loss of some of the relationships I’d built with other members as a result of our finding ourselves on opposite sides of this issue has definitely saddened me, but the reality is there are thousands of incredibly nice and extremely talented designers all over the place who are not affiliated, and I find that I’m just forging solid relationships with others instead.
If spreading the word about the reality of what’s happening in our profession, exposing the real agenda of an organization that ought to be looking out for its members instead of using their own money against them, and working hard to protect the rights of all designers to practice is unprofessional, then I accept the charge and will wear that label proudly.