Friday, August 28, 2009

The Debate Is Frightening And Dangerous

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, 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.


Anonymous said...

Makes you kinda proud to be 'Merikkkan,' don't it?

Anonymous said...

Gary on most of what you said I agree but as far as "taxation WITH representation" no I don't.....I feel the publics voice is being ignored on most matters that concern government. For many years I refused to be involved in politics or even refused to vote because I have never felt the people mattered to our government nor did I feel that our vote counted, these feelings seemed justified to me one election night when I saw the presidential winner announced in my home state 10 minutes before the polls closed. But this past year I decided to get involved and I see more and more of the "taxation without representation" and after so many many many years of it maybe the people are tired of it and frustrated with our representatives. It is sad to think of what is happening and when I see the current congress blantantly spending faster than the roadrunner can run.......well what can I say. Its supposed to be "by the people, for the people" and the "people" are tired of that not happening. I'm not saying I condone nor approve of the violence but maybe as I said people are just sick of how things have been going for so long and have been silent til now.

Allen said...

Well unfortunately part of America do not like some of the changes is coming to them
What is happening now is look like some of them are getting frustrated becous they feel like they been heard bout the politicians are doing what they think it is right just hear the people and ignore them and no action behind the talk it will result to make people mad and that’s what we see in town hall meetings I agree with you Gary and I am against violence and coming with gun to meetings bout disagree with madam Pelosi standing hard for what you believe is American maybe it is not the right way to show it bout that’s is them right people are with no work and many families are in bad situations and people feel our law maker and man in Washington are out of reach just God save us

Anonymous said...

The comparison between what is happening now and the Boston Tea Party is, in my opinion, not so outrageous. The rebellion back then was provoked by the unfairness, the lack of voice, and the feeling of impotence to alter things - the very things I think many people feel today.
I agree that it is a dangerous time in the US because what is happening is, in small but nevertheless perceptible ways,the glue that held you together is being eroded. What is to blame in part? Partisanship!!

WorthyOfUrAttn said...

I have been anticipating seeing violent outbreaks all over the country over this health care plan. It seems that most people have bits and pieces of different information creating more misunderstandings. Obama should make it clear to everyone.

fnthngs said...

The Health Care bill isn't finished, the Congress and Senate are still out to recess, and most people haven't even read the whole bill. So the obvious is partisanship that is fueling the violent outbreaks without regard to the real issues.

Doug said...

Guns at meetings, that is going too far, yelling at meetings to show your outrage is barely going far enough. If our law makers and the media are not forced to acknowledge that many are outraged at what is going on they wouldn't acknowledge it. The biased media has set requirements at this level for anyone that decents on Obama's plans to even be heard. And, as shown by related changes being made by Obama, it has worked. The end justifies the means, especially if no one is hurt at any of the meetings. A few things I have seen have been where someone was hurt by those brought in by the Obama camp. I will not be scared by someone yelling but the pro-healthcare reform group does scare me. They do much more than yell. Hmm, guns at meetings, maybe justified. Even the union hullagans might think twice before ganging up and beating a man handing out flags if they see his pistol on his side.

Doug said...

Gary, wasn't this Pelosi talking to those that are speaking up at town hall meetings? ("So I thank all of you who have spoken out for your courage, your point of view. All of it. Your advocacy is very American and very important."....Nancy Pelosi) Or if not, who was she saying that to? Has she changed her views on this once commendable activity?

Anonymous said...

Well put Gary. Hoping for cooler heads to prevail.

Deborah Young

Anonymous said...

I wish you had posted this when it was Code Pink causing disruptions or the anti-Bush crowd throwing bags of urine during the RNC.

How about the "shout outs" at the Petraeus hearing? Those were sweet, eh?

The Pastor in question should be given a chance to speak. Maybe you could have him on your show. I tried to call him to see if he would, that didn't work. So I'm emailing him. Would you be interested in having him as a guest?

BTW, here's his side of the story about the border patrol incident:

I am not sure what kind of Baptist this fellow is. He hasn't been to any Bible colleges nor university seminaries. According to his website he's self-taught.

But one thing I do know is, we Christians are to pray for our enemies, not shoot them because we don't like their politics.

Gary, BOTH sides have had ugliness. But I cannot call the overall tenor of the people at the meetings anything worse than liberals pieing Anne Coulter and doing other things.

What's going on is people are PISSED, Gary. They're scared. Pelosi, however, is power hungry and if I have to chose between some rudeness and shouting and a power hungry person who wants less for me and mine than for her own, I will pick the former.

-LD McLellan

Anonymous said...

The debate isn't frightening. The proposed health care plan is. The lunatic fringe running the Democratic party these days is driving the country toward civil war.

James Raymond Reese

Anonymous said...

really James? Civil war? The last Americans to initiate a civil war got their asses handed to them. Remember that as you take up your arms. LOL.

Anthony Bradford

Gary Baumgarten said...

The debate IS frightening when a pastor prays for Obama's death and that he be sent to hell and a parishioner the next day shows up outside an Obama town hall meeting with an assault rifle in hand.

And I don't think there's going to be a Civil War in the USA in our lifetime (at least I hope not)

Dumok's Comics said...

Hey Gary, Here is a Video Response:
American Discourse

Anonymous said...

Gary said:
"The debate IS frightening when a pastor prays for Obama's death and that he be sent to hell and a parishioner the next day shows up outside an Obama town hall meeting with an assault rifle in hand."

First of all, the Pastor has the freedom to request God send anyone to hell he wants in hell- doesn't mean God will listen, okay?

Secondly, what about Randi Rhodes calling for shooting President Bush a few years ago? How is it any different?

Like I said, ugly happens. I seriously doubt the rascal preacherboy would've shot Obama. Listening to him on youtube, the dude seems hung up on his second amend. rights and was trying to make a point- albeit terribly out of place.

Gary, I am more concerned about the attempts to SILENCE dissention- even the yelling can be constructive.

And for the record? Our forefathers had some knock down drag outs leading up to the American revolution.

Now let's kiss and make up before we get accused of creating a blogsturbance!

-LD McLellan

Jannhere said...

Me thinks some do have a short memory. Interesting Gary you are a reporter and seem to forget the last Bush trashing of the past 8 years. But that was OK right?

Gary Baumgarten said...

I have covered the Bush trashing during the show, most recently today's (Friday's) but my commentary is about what's happening TODAY and if you will notice I've been critical of those on BOTH sides who have let their discourse get away from them.

But I guess you think that since your guy was called Hitler it's OK for their guy now to be called the same. This is the basic problem with partisanship in this nation. Too many partisans are only outraged when it is their guy or gal who is getting bashed. They don't care about, in fact they relish,the bashing of those on the other side.

Anonymous said...

"But I guess you think that since your guy was called Hitler it's OK for their guy now to be called the same."

Um Gary? Twas Nancypoo Pelosi who called people Nazis. She claimed people were toting "swass-teekas" (a half truth- the alleged swastika had the circle crossed out emblem.. meaning NO NAZISM...) and basically accused the people in these town halls of being unamerican.

Nobody from previous encounters called anyone unamerican for standing up and even being rude.

Not even Rush Limberger err.. Limbaugh did.

Dissention is American, even when it's hostile. Re: the Watts riots; Kent State; Boston Tea Party; etc etc...

My family doesn't go back far enough for me to lay claim to being a "rowdy american in blood" but I can say I prefer a rowdy america (as long as people arent whacking heads off) to an America full of sheeples.

-LD McLellan

btw...while I felt Cindy Sheehan was a total whack job, I did support her right to do what she did.

Anonymous said...

well Gary, this article has stirred up some deep feelings here, and I am glad you always say, no retribution. I see an escalating in this country of fear and total disgust with the Obama approach to all government. The citizens want to know that they are being heard. So far I think that there is alot of doubt as to If they are. I would rather see a rowdy crowd, than people led around like sheep. God Bless us all. Jamie_38