Should those most affected by an issue lead on it?
There was once a quote from civil rights campaigner Ella Baker which went:
Those most affected by an issue should lead
Undoubtedly this brings up images of historical figures such as Martin Luther King, who risked his life for the belief in equality between races. Had a white person led on the campaign, it would have been unjust to view it necessarily as paternalism, but certainly the issue held more weight by being represented by one most affected.
However taken to its logical conclusion, Baker’s quote is not without problems.
I remember watching an episode of The Big Question on the BBC where euthanasia was being discussed. Opposing it was a former doctor, now retired, able to take a rather objective view that for all intents and purposes it might be unfair to burden a professional with assistance in somebody’s death. Having all proximity to the issue removed, the man weighed the pros and cons and reached the conclusion that euthanasia should not be implemented in the UK.
Against the motion, however, was a person with a terminal illness, who – for obvious reasons – was unable to hold quite the same amount of reserve as the former doctor, instead displaying a very emotional appeal to the audience about why her case proves the need for the right-to-die in this country.
By being affected by the issue, did the woman not make it problematic for herself to lead on it?
Take another example: a family were once on the news who had recently lost their child to an abductor. It was later realised their child had sadly been killed by the man. They then appeared on the news advocating the death penalty for child killers. Many would understand or at least sympathise with their grief, but conclude their proximity to the issue does not put them in good standing to lead on the issue – particularly as they advocate a system of punishment long, and rightly, opposed in this country.
Given the examples I’ll throw the question out, and hopefully get some interesting feedback in the comments thread: Should those most affected by an issue lead on it?