We've all seen video of town hall meetings on the health care reform disrupted and turned into shouting matches and - sometimes - resulting in scuffles and even arrests. I'm here to tell you that, in some instances, the debate has not only become scary but even dangerous. And in that respect, Nancy Pelosi has gotten it correctly - it's unAmerican.
I say this knowing full well that there are those who are going to latch on my words and criticize me for opposing debate and dissent. But anyone who knows me will realize nothing could be further from the truth. On my show, News Talk Online on Paltalk.com, and on this blog, I encourage people who disagree with me to air their opinions.
But some of what has been going on is akin to incitement to riot. And one incident, in particular, is downright frightening.
Remember the guy who brought an assault rifle and a handgun to protest outside a town hall meeting while President Obama was inside? Well, in an interview, he says that just the previous day, he attended a church service where the pastor gave a fiery sermon and prayed for Obama's death and that he go to hell.
Yes, technically the man had the right, apparently, to carry arms to the protest. And, technically, the pastor can pray for whatever he wishes. But would the reverend have rejoiced over the blood on his hands had something terrible happened as a result? Would he have felt indemnified because, after all, it wasn't his doing but God's?
Does there not come a time when common sense and decency ought to prevail when it comes to the health care debate? Or any other political rhetoric in these times?
The protests that are being waged are being compared by their organizers to the Boston Tea Party - a precursor to a revolution that overthrew a tyrannical occupying force. We are taught to herald the actions of the Patriots because from the ultimately bloody battle this wonderful experiment called the United States of America was born. But is the comparison to King George a fair one?
The Tea Party was about taxation without representation. Today, we have worse taxation, but with representation.
The presidency is not a monarchy. The people who steward our government are elected by the people. Yet, we the people are so engrossed in our own self indulgences and economic survival that we've neglected to do our part in keeping our government in check.
I hope you've gotten this far in this essay to fully understand my point. I think protest and redress of government is not only healthy but essential. But the shouting down of those with whom we disagree, the implied and real threats, the deliberate misrepresentation of the facts is unacceptable.
To those who may be reading this who are uninitiated, let me take this moment to inform you that I am not a partisan. As I often say on my show, I am not only non-partisan, I'm anti-partisan. So, least you think my condemnation of tactics is directed at only one side, let me assure you it is not. We've spent hours researching claims and counterclaims on my show in order to bring the facts to the audience. And we've found distortions promulgated by both sides.
Ultimately, the citizens of this great nation need to take responsibility for what's happening in Washington. We have a duty to be informed about the issues and to let our representatives know our opinions. Our obligation as citizens does not end at the ballot box. It only starts there.
We will continue, through the show and the blog, to address the issues and try to stimulate the debate so that each of us can reach his or her own conclusions. Mine is not a monolithic ideological audience that I'm trying to "lead." I not only request but demand that those who disagree with my assertions speak out.
But threats or even implied threats of violence do not deserve a seat at the table. We also have a duty to speak out when that happens - even when we agree with the positions of those who do it.
If we don't - the debate will be strictly along partisan lines. Democratic and Republican talking points will prevail - and clear thinking on any of the important issues of the day will fail to rise.
Worse, we run the risk of violence and people actually getting hurt.