Alarm about the intensity of debate has prompted more members of Congress to cancel planned town hall style meetings on health care reform. This time it is Republican members doing the canceling, citing concerns over attendance by potentially armed citizens.
“Last weekend a number of my colleagues reported their meetings being disrupted by polite people armed with facts,” said Rep. Heath Lackey, a Republican who represents the district that includes Westmost, North Carolina. He held a Saturday session there, but canceled a planned Sunday session after concluding attendance by people openly armed with facts posed a significant danger.
Lackey also said his office has been receiving a steady stream of spell-checked, unabusive letters and e-mails from non-anonymous people.
Forums held earlier in the lawmakers’ August recess were dominated by anti-reform citizens who shouted down representatives, senators and others in the audience. Some silently exercised their Second Amendment rights.
In contrast, the end of the recess has degenerated into articulate presentations by so-called ‘Reform-ers’ — supporters of reform and the public option. Almost all of them come to the meetings armed with facts and vocabularies. Conservative blogs and websites have posted photos of reform-ers using their inside voices and in possession of ammunition in large magazines, like the New Yorker and Harper’s.
The open display of intelligent expression worries many of Lackey’s constituents like M.F. Nutt of Westmost. He describes himself as “a birther and a deather, like most regular people around here.” Nutt attended Lackey’s Saturday forum, but left early when he saw people carrying facts and that there was a Hannah Montana marathon starting on the Disney Channel.
“It was like at any moment one of those smart people could have snapped and shot my belief system full of holes. I feel I was lucky to escape,” said Nutt.
“Those people are simply not crazy,” agreed Shirley A. Nutt, who watched the Hannah Montana marathon with her husband. “Reform-ers claim insurance companies will use ‘preexisting conditions’ to kill sick people. Reform-ers are just trying to scare people who have preexisting conditions,” she said.
“It is really sad, and sadder that they’re setting such a poor example for the children,” she added.
“Yeah, ‘Teach your children well,’ like that commie hippie group,” observed her husband.
“Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,” his wife replied, also noting that Nash and Young were not even born in the United States.
Law enforcement officials say there is no restriction on carrying facts in public despite the alarm it can cause.
Sheriff Andrew Taylor of nearby Mayberry, North Carolina, assured the public there is no danger. “We got the same kind of 911 calls a couple of weeks ago, from people freaked out over reform-ers who were openly carrying video cameras,” Taylor said.
“I’ll tell you now what I told them then: folks need to just calm down and get educated on the issues. ‘Teach your children well,’ as the song goes,” said Taylor, who is facing a September recall election.