I've watched the debate on health care with some interest. As a person denied coverage due to preexisting condition, I have a dog in this fight.
The protests occurring at town hall meetings have me alarmed. Not because I think they are wrong, but because of their tactics.
"Why would you want to deny citizens their 1st Amendment Right?" you may ask.
I am the last person to argue for an abridgment of 1st Amendment rights. I think every citizen has the right to speak publicly their mind and opinion. I think the Constitution protects every citizen who endeavors to address their duly elected representatives.
The protests at the town hall meetings are different.
The purpose, it seems, behind many of the protests is not the free exercise of 1st Amendment rights. Citizens are exercising their 1st Amendment rights, not to engage in civil discourse, but to deny others the free exercise of their rights.
What do I mean?
Simply this: A person's 1st Amendment Right to flap their lips ends where it prevents me from exercising my 1st Amendment Right to flap mine.
By analogy: If I were to exercise my Right to Bear Arms in a way that prevented you from exercising your Right to Bear Arms, then my act would be outside the law.
Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins, so to speak. This utilitarian doctrine underscores many of our freedoms.
Now, if citizens wish to debate on the merits of health care reform, then by all means the law protects them in civil discourse. These protests are not civil and they are not designed to discuss, but bludgeon. Civil discourse demands respect for the rights of others.
But, if the purpose is to thwart discourse, then it defies Constitutional protections and smells of tyranny.
As a nation, we cannot allow the loud voices of a few to drown out civil dialogue necessary to the proper functioning of our Republic.
Crybaby complainers who lie and misrepresent because they can't get their way is not the American Way.
Adult discussions based on facts, based on civility, and based on reason--now, that's the American Way.