Thursday, March 25, 2010
Time To Tone Down The Health Reform Rhetoric
Pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who voted for the health reform bill after President Obama agreed to an executive order precluding the use of federal funds to pay for abortions is depicted in this image created by a detractor and posted on the Internet as pro-death. Stupak is one of 10 Democratic members of Congress to receive harassing or death threats in the wake of the bill's passage. There have also been reports of acts of vandalism targeting members of Congress.
I warned during the summer recess town hall meetings that if some of the rhetoric wasn't toned down that things would get out of hand. I wish today that I had been wrong. But something is terribly wrong with our society when those who vote for legislation that some are passionately opposed to are threatened.
There has been repudiation from some Republican members of Congress. This is not to suggest that they are in anyway responsible for these actions. But it's time that they, and some talk show hosts who have been whipping the opposition into a frenzy, speak some reason.
Yes, we value free speech in this nation. But with free speech comes responsibility.
I'm not suggesting that talk show hosts, members of Congress or those who are expressing themselves in opposition to this bill be muzzled. But I am asking that they voluntarily show some responsibility. From their bully pulpits, they have, while not the legal responsibility, but the moral obligation, to tone things down a bit - before somebody gets hurt.
The same goes for the other side. Conservative talk show host Ann Coulter was advised to not give a scheduled speech at the University of Ottawa because the students there to protest her appearance seemed, to security officials, to be a threat.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States was shouted down during a speech at the University of California-Irvine. And 11 protesters were arrested for the disruption.
This is not how the process is supposed to work. Both sides are supposed to get their voices heard. Shouting an invited guest down at a university is bad enough. Threatening members of Congress goes too far.
The FBI and the Capitol Police are both investigating the threats. Hopefully those responsible will be caught - and prosecuted. Before someone gets hurt.
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