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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Town hall tirades

I've been off from work for the past week, so I've been paying a bit less attention to the news than usual, but one thing that's caught my attention is the TV coverage of these "town hall" meetings regarding national health care reform.

If you watch CNN, MSNBC or Fox News - especially Fox News - you've seen the clips ad nauseum: angry (usually Republican) constituents who fear they'll lose their existing medical coverage screaming at the top of their lungs at the House members and senators (mostly Democrats) who allegedly are conspiring to ruin the lives of these average Americans.

It all makes for good theater - and mark my words, much of it is just theater - but it would be wise to keep this in mind: These tirades are the exception, not the rule. And they tend to be carried out only by people who know TV cameras are pointing at them. Most of the town hall meetings being held across the country during Congress' current summer recess - including the ones conducted by President Barack Obama - have been polite, low-key events in which opinions are voiced at acceptable decibels and dissatisfaction is expressed respectfully.

You won't see any of these non-confrontational sessions on TV, mind you - because news directors would rather eat broken glass than air segments that lack drama - but rest assured: The vast majority of the public debate on this issue has been carried out in a manner that your mother would find acceptable.

... unless your name is Trig and your mother is Sarah Palin.



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