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Political Opponents Deserved More Civility At Statehouse Rally

October 17, 2007

Politics can get rough.  When issues take center stage that we feel very emotional over there is a desire to make our points more forcefully.  We ratchet up the volume, and the rhetoric can get heated.  And yet I like to think that our better angels at some point intervene and take charge.  At times on Wednesday afternoon that did not happen.

I must say that I was uncomfortable at times Wednesday afternoon by the lack of civility shown by some of those participating in the rally over Wisconsin’s state budget.  And since I was one of those in favor of passing the budget, my contact was with public employees that ringed the ‘anti-tax crowd’ on the Statehouse grounds.  What I saw and heard at times was hard to take.

Prior to the event starting, Owen Robinson, a well-known conservative blogger was in the area dominated by public employees.  I went up and introduced myself and we chatted a minute about blogging, and the perfect weather that allowed us all to enjoy the rally.  It was then that someone made a remark about the way he was dressed, and ended it with a sexual remark that was uncalled for.

Now Owen and I see the world through very different perspectives.  We agreed on the weather, but had the conversation turned to the topic of the rally would have found much to disagree over.  And that is fine.  People can agree to disagree.  But for someone in the crowd to throw out a horrid comment based on the fact Robinson had different views on the tax issue is absurd.  Frankly, I was embarrassed to be standing there at that moment.

The worst example of boorish behavior however was at the end of the rally when those who were ‘anti-tax’ needed to leave the grounds.  Some public employees made a limited pathway that required people to walk through a series of verbal insults, badgering, and foul language.  As I was standing not far from the outer sidewalks at this time I looked at the faces of those leaving.  Some were good-natured about the experience, but some looked very upset, and even hurt. One lady who made eye contact with me seemed on the verge of crying. 

This is NOT how we win friends and score points.  This is not how the issues of the day should be addressed.  I am as political and feisty on the issues of the day as anyone.  I love to debate.  I love to rant with my friends.  But there comes a time when civil discourse and actions need to trump our anger.

There is also that little thing called ‘democracy’ that involves free speech and association.  The airing of opposing ideas by both sides at the Statehouse was refreshing to see and hear on Wednesday.  It was good for both sides to unleash their opinions.  But no one should suffer insults because their ideas differed from others. 

The vast majority of the public employees were respectful while remaining committed to their cause.  It was the handful of others that made an otherwise sunny day less pleasant.

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  1. Chester White permalink
    October 19, 2007 8:54 AM

    Welcome to the party, pal.

  2. winston permalink
    October 18, 2007 5:57 PM

    “is pretty damned meaningless when it comes to the real-life destructive effects of the right wing’s absolutist ideology in action.”

    *rolling eyes*
    YOU are a perfect example of what is wrong with American politics today. Can you make a point without resorting to idiotic hyperbole? Yes, of course people who disagree with you shouldn’t dare make their feelings known to their elected reps. Let me know the next time you attend a rally so I can spit on you and shout you down. I think you’re an extremist so I don’t have to respect your democratic rights whatsoever.

    As Bugs bunny would say, “what a maroon”

  3. Emilio Cerra permalink
    October 18, 2007 4:35 PM

    You know what’s a hoot about Mr. Boycott’s reaction? It’s always the liberals that react this way, and yet without the slightest trace of self consciousness will immediately turn around and accuse conservatives of being brownshirts and/or fascists.

  4. October 18, 2007 4:17 PM

    Heh. Captain Charles Boycott seems to provide us with an example of the incivility described in the post.

  5. Lee permalink
    October 18, 2007 4:13 PM

    I hear you quacking.

  6. October 18, 2007 7:16 AM

    If you would like to hear what a handfull sounds like, click the link.

  7. Captain Charles Boycott permalink
    October 18, 2007 1:35 AM

    Boo-effing-hoo. Your vapors over the lunatic fringe’s crocodile tears about getting called out for their destructive behavior are laughable. Ever hear this one? Sticks-and-stones might break my bones, but words will never hurt me? You and your extremist friends’ fretting over civility — feigned or not — is pretty damned meaningless when it comes to the real-life destructive effects of the right wing’s absolutist ideology in action.

    Move over Alan Colmes, somebody’s gunning for your shoe-shining position.

  8. October 17, 2007 11:21 PM

    Why, it seems like only two days ago that Boots and Sabers was calling a Republican legislator a “whore.”

  9. October 17, 2007 10:44 PM

    I appreciate your comments.

    However the truth is the one behaving badly were much more than a “handfull”

    I recall the Ward Churchill appearance at UW Whitewater. Many conservatives came to protest but when the event started they respected it and made no attempt to interrupt.

    These people were acting in a manner that was uncalled for.

    Again, seriously thank you for this post.

  10. Patrick permalink
    October 17, 2007 10:02 PM

    Dear Caffinated:

    As a Conservative I’ll be the first to admit that the incivility and thugish behavior and language is not limited to your side by any means. I often worry that politics has become so hyper-partisan that were the solution to all our problems come along, we might reject it simply because a democrat thought of it first. Know what I mean? We have lost respect for each other, or at least it seems this way too often.

    I hope that this post is rather widely read. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to check myself before I go for that next tempting cheap-shot. At least you’ve given me reason to reflect.

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