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How Can You Tell The Difference?

by George Wise 

George Wise Attorney

Slacker or Slacktivist

1:  A person who shirks work or obligation; especially: one who evades service in time of war. (Yes we are in a war over the right to a jury trial.)

ATLA Activist

1: An especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially the right to a jury trial and full compensation for injured Arkansans.

I write this column while the 90th General Assembly is still in session. By the time you read this we may or may not have protected the rights of injured Arkansans. Despite the outcome, whether good or bad, I can tell you that we needed activists and not slacktivists helping us in our fight at the legislature. Now more than ever we need every member engaged in the activism that will protect the right to a jury trial and full compensation for injured Arkansans.

Are you a slacktivist or an activist? Here is how to tell.

An activist knows his legislators well enough to call him or her and get a return call. An activist is someone the legislator knows by name and face. An activist educates his or her legislator about the importance of the right to a jury trial and full compensation for injured Arkansans.

A slacktivist is unknown to his or her legislator and may occasionally send an email complaining about an issue.

An activist is involved in ATLA and serves on committees or on the Board of Governors. An activist contributes financially to ATLA and encourages others to give until it hurts. An activist is engaged in ATLA’s political activities and follows the strategy developed by ATLA to preserve the jury trial. An activist knows what ATLA is doing and helps get it done.

A slacktivist simply pays dues to get the benefit of belonging to the biggest law firm in the state and then lets others do the work of defending the constitution. A slacktivist questions what ATLA is doing and doesn’t help get our job done.

An activist is known in his or her community as someone who cares about others. Whether through charity work, church work, involvement in local youth programs or membership in civic groups, the activist is visible to others as a caring human being. Through these activities, the activist has credibility when discussing the right to a jury trial.

A slacktivist is invisible to others in his or her community or is only known as “one of those trial lawyers.” A slacktivist lacks credibility and is unable to discuss with those in his or her community the importance of protecting regular folks’ rights.

An activist educates those in his or her community about the right to a jury trial and full compensation for injured Arkansans. An activist speaks out at meetings on the importance of the jury trial, the history of the jury trial and how losing the right to a jury trial will affect those in his or her community. An activist seeks out speaking opportunities which will give him or her the chance to educate others about our system of justice. An activist writes op-eds for his or her local newspaper educating the public about the jury trial and personal responsibility.

A slacktivist seldom speaks out or takes the time to educate others about our justice system. A slacktivist assumes ATLA will take care of educating the public.  A slacktivist fails to realize we are all ATLA.

As my time as President of ATLA comes to an end, I promise that going forward I will be an ATLA activist and not a slacktivist. I want others to join me in making that commitment. I am convinced that more education across the state is the best way to preserve our civil justice system. Educating voters in our communities means there is hope they will elect legislators who will protect the right to a jury trial and and full compensation for injured Arkansans. Write an op-ed, schedule a program about the jury trial, get involved in your community as a caring human being. Do so and you will be an ATLA activist.

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