Erika Webb: We can’t let this voice be silenced

Religion  Speech  The Press  Assembly  ​​​​​​​Redress of Grievances    Rights in action — West Volusians exercise their First Amendment rights in recent days — here, assembled in Downtown DeLand June 30 for a protest of the government’s immigration policies.

Religion

Speech

The Press

Assembly

Redress of Grievances

 

Rights in action — West Volusians exercise their First Amendment rights in recent days — here, assembled in Downtown DeLand June 30 for a protest of the government’s immigration policies.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

On the day of The Capital Gazette shootings, my husband and I discussed the current deadly algae bloom on Florida’s west coast. 

The origin of the bloom is in the dastardly deeds of the greedy, the kind of people Miami Herald columnist and prolific novelist Carl Hiaasen fictionally maims, dismembers and kills in his novels; and those he drags by the throat into shame’s spotlight in the newspaper, inking them immortally immoral. 

“How does Carl Hiaasen do it?” I asked. It has to be tormenting where he sits, in the crow’s nest above inevitable environmental extinction.

About an hour after my comment, I read that Hiaasen’s brother, Rob, was among the dead in the latest massacre.

Rob Hiaasen was an editor for The Capital Gazette, and a columnist. 

“The Hiaasens are part of a long-time newspaper family, with other former and current members employed by the Herald,” according to a June 28 article in the Miami paper.

Even at his funniest, Carl Hiaasen’s grief over life’s atrocities is apparent in his writing. Each keystroke is a sock-it-to those who take from the rest of us. Descriptions such as “pernicious little ferret,” to describe a real-life culprit make us laugh, and they make us know. 

His is powerful, cathartic prose.

Surely neither Hiaasen brother would say one life is more sacrificial than another; each likely would agree with the majority: These senseless, now-regular attacks have added a horrific dimension to America.

I have long admired Carl Hiaasen. His ability to excavate ugly realities and expose the responsible people is heroic. He gets to use language to punch out bad guys, to make people aware of hideousness about which they might otherwise remain uninformed. 

Until June 28, I didn’t know his brother shared the craft. 

An intense need to stave off powerlessness propels journalists. Digging for the truth, searching for the exact words to make a slight difference in the bigger, permanent picture is hard. The mission is to empower others.

Daily, we seek to shed light. Often, we have to fight the darkness for it.

“I just want people to know what an in­cred­ibly gentle, generous and gifted guy my brother was,” Carl Hiaasen told The Washington Post.

My prediction is that this latest and very personal ghastly act will not deter Florida’s indefatigable defender of voiceless victims.

Rather, I believe, his dogged efforts will double. From this point forward, the shape and scope of his message will be influenced by heartbreak more intense than even the Everglades’ demise could provoke.

While my heart shares his sorrow, I am anxious to read his words.

— Webb has been a writer for The Beacon since late 2016. She earlier wrote for Hometown News.

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