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Our loss of civility in public discourse (opinion)

By ThisIsReno

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 necessarily reflect the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

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