No One Was Heard At Reed’s Town Hall Meeting
After reading the P-J article (5-18) about the Busti Town Board’s response to the obnoxious behavior of disruptive participants at the town hall with Congressman Tom Reed, it simply confirmed my experience. Before the town hall began, we were told to submit our questions on paper and Congressman Reed would address them.
A small group I was with obliged. We applauded the man from the opposition who urged his side to be different this time. Surely, I thought, the meeting wouldn’t get as disorderly and unruly as the one in Stow did.
Boy, was I wrong! It wasn’t long before the caterwauling erupted. Boos, jeers and howling rained down. With a couple of exceptions, the constant acrimony from cackling gasbags shut down Tom from speaking and prevented people from getting their written questions answered. Their boorish behavior trashed the proper protocol announced before the meeting.
As Tom tried to reason with them about the financial crisis confronting Medicare, their emotion-driven indignant opposition demanded Medicare for all. Disagreeable as they were, it wasn’t their support for government control over health care that bothered me the most; it was the way they were saying it and being so disrespectful about it that was most disturbing.
I thought I’d seen it all with absurd signs like “Trumpcare is genocide,” until Congressman Reed mentioned his principled vote to defund Planned Parenthood and a constituent irritated by his vote held up a sign saying, “What would Jesus do?” Go figure.
Uncivil political rhetoric sadly characterizes our day. It doesn’t help with shallow sound-bite echo chambers of social media drawing people into their safe spaces and away from engaging others of different perspectives for civil and substantive discussion. This is time for quality dialogue.
Tom Reed tried, but the nonstop fuming bluster of agitated hotheads discourteously dominated the hour, leaving the views and concerns of others unaddressed, quite like the suppression of free speech we’re witnessing on college campuses.
An unscrewed interrupter butting in twice at the town hall demanded that Tom apply the 25th Amendment against Donald Trump since his brain was as good as dead. Can you understand why someone bluntly said that town halls this year amount to nothing more than a platform for the loony left?
At the town hall, our questions and voice were drowned out, but being respectful and not heard matters more than rudely disrupting just to be heard.
The Rev. Mel McGinnis is a Frewsburg resident.