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Our loss of civility in public discourse (opinion)

By ThisIsReno
A protester at the May 2, 2020 Return of the Minutemen rally in Carson City.

Submitted by Norm Robins

Norm Robins

There is a sickness across the land and in our fair Valley.  It is corrosive.  It is hateful.  It has taken on a dangerous incandescence.  It is the loss of civility in our public discourse. 

To my mind the most beautiful sentence in the English language is Thomas Jefferson’s first sentence in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.  He tells us “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  How can we achieve consent if we don’t achieve consensus first?  How can we achieve consensus if one half of us considers the other half evil?

Such is the stuff of William Puchert’s opinion piece “It’s time for their 15 minutes of fame to be over (opinion).” He decries the reopening protests happening locally and across the land.  He says, “these ‘so-called protests’ are being orchestrated for political interests and are attracting right-wing extremists, militias and conspiracy theorists.”  He calls for the press to stop covering these people, to stop giving them their 15 minutes of fame.

These weren’t “so-called” protests.  They were genuine protests by people who want to go back to work and don’t want their government telling them they can’t do that. How does Mr. Puchert know the protest attracted right-wing extremists, militias, and conspiracy theorists?  Was he there?  Did he interview the protest participants? 

Maybe his is just a rubber-stamp left wing complaint.  Everybody who disagrees with them is a right-wing conspiracist and just plain evil fresh out of the chute, no further proof necessary.  I sympathize with the protesters.  I’m not a right-wing extremist, a militia member, or a conspiracy theorist.  Why is he insulting them and me?  All these people want to do is go back to work.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  I agree with it.  I like to go to work in the morning.  I like drawing an earned paycheck.  Everybody should have the right to do that.

Mr. Puchert is calling on the press to stop covering these events.  As an ex-journalist he should know that the press doesn’t cover ideology except in their op-ed pages (and then sometimes only in my dreams), trends, forecasts, and so forth.  They cover events.  A protest, any protest, is an event just like a fire or a bridge collapse.

What is so bothersome about his opinion piece is that we all, protesters, Mr. Puchert, and I, have Constitutional rights.  We have freedom to speak and assemble.  We have freedom of the press and thank heavens for that.  We have freedom to bear arms including in Nevada where carrying an unconcealed weapon is legal.  We have the right to petition our government to redress grievances.  That right goes back to ancient Greece and probably the Code of Hammurabi before that.

We simply have to stop calling each other names and judging each other harshly if we want an intelligent, useful, fruitful public dialog on current issues.  We have to start addressing issues with intelligence and wisdom.  Mr. Puchert’s op-ed piece doesn’t do that.

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

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6 comments

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Doug Goodman May 28, 2020 - 2:26 pm

“We simply have to stop calling each other names and judging each other harshly if we want an intelligent, useful, fruitful public dialog on current issues. We have to start addressing issues with intelligence and wisdom. ” Could not have said this better.

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Norm Robins May 28, 2020 - 7:43 am

Thank you one and all for your comments. It’s nice to see this dialogue and diversity of opinion. Let’s keep the dialogue going. It is how a free people govern themselves. Don’t forget the old saying, “The cacophony of government is the symphony of freedom.” All together we are making beautiful music. Norm

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Larry E Chesney May 27, 2020 - 9:29 am

The time for meaningful discussion is well over. The progressives and their” Alinsky rules for radicals “drew that line many years ago. Your opinion is exactly right, it is yours alone. Your bleeding heart plea for consensus falls on deaf ears. We have been lied to, minulipulated, taxed to death, for the gratification of liberals in elected positions at every level of government.
The time for talking is long past. In my 73 years on this planet I have never seen a community so close to civil unrest. It’s time for those that think they govern the voters, to realize they represent the wishes of voters.

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David King May 27, 2020 - 9:21 am

Overall I agree with Norm Robins’s op-ed: Our loss of civility in public discourse. To add, the bible states in Ephesians 4:29: Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth…..

The challenge to stay civil is how many people depend and rely on the gov’t to keep them safe, and expect everyone else to follow. Where me and my family want to decide for ourselves on how to best keep safe. These two opposing views create a strong social discord and tension.

Best solution is to smile and wave, smile and wave, and then vote.

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Connie Citizo May 27, 2020 - 7:35 am

There is one dangerous group here in Northern Nevada stirring up some of this discord, the Mormon extremists who ally with Bundy and get their theology from the Book of Nay. They do believe the government is taking their land and that the government is tyrannical. The mainstream LDS church does not agree with them. They are all riled up right now, wanting to get Sisolak out of office, fearing loss of rights and guns. Their extreme religious beliefs make them as scary as Muslim terrorists.

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PAUL A. SHERMAN May 26, 2020 - 5:00 pm

“We simply have to stop calling each other names and judging each other harshly if we want an intelligent, useful, fruitful public dialog on current issues. We have to start addressing issues with intelligence and wisdom. ” It’s a shame your kumbaya did not speak to the refusal to wear a mask or social distance by protesters. And while it’s legal to bear arms, it does not promote useful, fruitful public dialogue.

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