Time To Stop Shouting And Start Listening
I spent a couple of hours Thursday afternoon with some of the brightest high school seniors in Virginia Beach: Nominees for the Rotary Club Brickell Scholarship. We were discussing the state of news these days.
"It stresses me out," I confessed when talk turned to cable news. "I don't like to watch people fighting and interrupting each other."
"It stresses me out, too," agreed a girl who's waiting for an Ivy League acceptance.
"I can't stand it," declared another.
So it's unanimous. Yelling doesn't make for good television.
Yet turn on cable news any night of the week and you'll find seething panelists talking over each other, trying to drown out their opponents.
We don’t listen to each other anymore. We shout. And when someone voices an opinion we don’t like, we shout louder.
Both liberals and conservatives engage in this churlish behavior.
Consider what happened to Nancy Pelosi recently:
A clip of Pelosi at a town hall meeting had many on the right smirking this week. It showed a heckler interrupting the minority leader, demanding to know her personal worth.
Rude? Unbelievably so.
Love her or loathe her, Pelosi is a 77-year-old politician working tirelessly for her constituents. She didn’t have to go to that boring town hall meeting on taxes, but there she was, arguing her case.
Pelosi deserved a polite hearing. And didn’t get it.
On Wednesday night, hecklers seemed to be everywhere at CNN's town hall for the parents, friends and survivors of the Florida school shooting.
Seventeen kids were murdered in Parkland last week. Emotions are raw. No one expected this to be a low-key gathering.
But it took guts for Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch to accept CNN's invitation to wade into such a charged environment. They knew the crowd would not be friendly. Not sure they expected the heckling to be as hostile as it was, though.
Members of the audience shouted and whistled when Rubio and Loesch tried to speak. Some screamed “murderer” at the NRA spokeswoman.
Look, this traumatized Florida community has been through a lot. But they did themselves no favor when they tried to silence two people who had come to talk with them and answer questions.
At one point even Emma Gonzalez, who has emerged as a leader of the students, begged the audience to be quiet so she could hear what Loesch was saying.
There are signs that a serious national discussion about school shootings is underway.
This would be a good time for those on both sides of this overheated issue to stop shouting.
And start listening.