Vigorous Debate Is Healthy, But Keep It Civil | News, Sports, Jobs


We are sure there are many who were in the audience of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s recent town hall meeting in Busti who were just as disappointed as Busti Town Supervisor Jesse Robbins was at the behavior of some of those in attendance.

Robbins, Busti supervisor, and the Busti Town Board are sending a letter to Reed apologizing for the conduct of some in the audience on May 6. By all accounts, the meeting was loud. There were many raised voices. Listening to Reed attempt to answer questions about both health care policy and his voting record was cringeworthy. Often, Reed was unable to string more than a handful of words together before he was drowned out by yelling from the audience. Some audience members likely would have done better discussing their issues with Reed or someone from Reed’s office rather than yelling, screaming and carrying on in a room full of people.

While we understand why Robbins wanted to apologize, there is no reason for the town to do so. The town didn’t encourage some people to yell and scream just as it didn’t encourage others to make their case in a calm, reasoned tone.

It is obvious from audio recordings of the town hall meeting that there are many in the 23rd Congressional District who are unhappy with their government right now. Americans have the right and duty to voice their displeasure. Our government is at its best when those on opposite sides of an issue have a vigorous debate before arriving at a decision. We applaud those on either side of the political aisle who showed an ability to make a point without yelling, screaming or interrupting others.

Chautauqua County has played host to two standing-room-only town hall meetings this year. After so many years of apathy toward politics, it is a breath of fresh air to see so many people engaging with their federal representative on matters important to them. We hope people continue to be this engaged.

Discourse is important, but civil discourse is more productive.

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