Sunday, April 05, 2009

Mr. Goss, Your Response

A local citizen, Delwin Goss, recently attacked founder Ryan Clinton's upbringing and personal life in a letter to the Austin Chronicle that appears on the newspaper's website.  Mr. Goss did so because he disagrees with FixAustin's emphasis on enacting proven, life-saving policies to reduce shelter killing in Austin, and evidently has trouble separating policy disagreements from personal lives.  In any event, after giving Mr. Goss time to remove the post, Ryan e-mailed him this response this morning.  Please also feel free to share this with anyone who may have read his post.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Ryan Clinton 
Date: Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Mr. Goss, Your Response

Mr. Goss,

I applaud your passion for animal welfare and your efforts to spay and neuter feral cats. On the other hand, I had held out hope that, by now, you would have come to understand the imprudence of criticizing someone's family, upbringing, and childhood in a public forum.  Since you have not, I feel compelled to answer your letter to the Chronicle.

You insulted my childhood (as you have done before) and suggested that my family failed to meet your standards.  Although I find your infatuation with my childhood creepy (and I am not alone in this regard), I will answer your inquiry:  My family had far more love to share than money.  My mother stayed home to raise us, and my father worked in government and non-profits.  My grandfathers, a mill worker and a teacher, died before I was born.  One of my grandmothers never knew that the checks she wrote to reimburse friends and family for groceries were worthless.  

One of my brothers has struggled with many of the demons you have, Mr. Goss.  Through him, I understand how difficult the drug addiction you have publicly described on the Chronicle's website is.  And although my brother has never been a drug dealer as you have publicly claimed to have been on the Chronicle's website, my understanding of my brother has helped me understand you.

You've also questioned my commitment to doing work.  Let me first answer this way, Mr. Goss:  my parents instilled in me the value that when you do something good for the right reasons, you find no need to tell anyone you did it.  Nonetheless, I hope there are times when exceptions to that rule are appropriate, because I'm making an exception on this occasion in an attempt to satisfy your fixation:  This month alone, I've worked well over 250 hours at my job as an attorney in a boutique appellate law firm based in Dallas.  I've done my best to help support an immediate family member who has been hospitalized for a month.  I've done my best to support another immediate family member who was diagnosed with an incurable disease this month.  And I've done my best to help support my mother, who two weeks ago had a long-suffering friend die in her home.  I've also met with a City Council member to discuss ways to continue to improve the outlook for Austin's homeless pets, I've lobbied an old friend, who is a state representative, against House Bill 1982, which irrationally risks criminalizing the ownership of dogs weighing over 40 pounds (among other things), and I've been to animal-welfare meetings that you did not attend.  I've spent a weekend helping research for and prepare a response to a Chronicle reporter's questions on animal welfare---answers that were not included in the article, probably because they were fair and rational in a way that conflicted with the reporter's vision for the story.  This week alone, I also rescued, fostered, and homed two dogs and found a foster home for another.  I also this past month donated $100 to the Austin Humane Society, $100 to Austin Pets Alive, $100 to the No Kill Advocacy Center, and $50 to Emancipet.  And I'm currently working on a speech that I've been asked to deliver at a No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C., at the end of the month.  On top of all that, I've done my best to spend time with my own rescued animals, my friends, and my significant other, who continues to forgive me for all the time I spend working in and outside of my day job.

So there are your answers, Mr. Goss.  I hope your infatuation with my life has been temporarily satisfied.  While you do wonderful work for animals in Austin, I fear that your antics do more harm than good.  By electing to attack the childhood and personal lives of those with whom you disagree rather than addressing policy issues in a rational and reasoned way, you risk becoming marginalized and harming the movement that we both care about.  For your own sake and for Austin's homeless pets, I pray that you'll stick to issues, and avoid personal lives, in the future.  But if you don't (and I don't expect you will), I will continue forgiving you.

Best of luck,