The APP was talking about most of the 1500 citizens who showed up to let the Chairman of the Health Care committee of the House Energy and Commerce committee know what they thought of the bill he is a prime author of.
Does this look like a crowd that "descends into the oratory of the lynch mob, the rhetoric of a rugby scrum or the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution," as the APP referred to those of us who were there:
It looks to me that the room was full of patriots who care passionately about their country, their freedom, their own health care and that of their loved ones.
As James Hogan points out the real disgrace is that Pallone does not represent the people of New Jersey's 6th Congressional District. He started the forum letting the crowd know that HR 3200 was his bill and that there was nothing they could say or do to change his mind about that. Here Pallone gives his spin as the crowd listens politely:
The APP said,
Many of the 1,500 people who showed up at Red Bank Middle School didn't seem interested in learning anything or engaging in the reasoned give-and-take necessary to gaining a fuller understanding of an extraordinarily complicated issue.
Quite the contrary, in my experience most of the 1500 people who showed up were well informed and prepared to ask reasonable questions. While the subject matter is somewhat complicated, it was made extraordinarily so by Pallone's disingenuous spin and double speak. Pallone made it very clear that he didn't want to learn anything or engage in a reasoned give-and-take. He told the group that he was an advocate of the bill and would remain so. He told the group, easily 90% of whom were opposed to his position, that he believed the majority supports his position.
The APP went on,
Many of those in attendance were more than rude, heckling and booing those who had the temerity to express an opinion that differed from their own. And their opinions seemed little more than an echo chamber of misinformation, misconceptions and just plain ignorance. Facts and honest discussion don't stand a chance in such an atmosphere
There is no question that the crowd was passionate. However, the rudeness, heckling and booing were appropriate responses to Pallone's misinformation, spin and just plain dishonesty.
Overall, I was proud to participate in the forum. While, some people of both sides of the debate went too far in belittling the other side, this was a well informed and passionate group. There was no violence. There were no arrests. This was civil democracy in action.
Captain Steve McCarthy of the Red Bank Police Department characterised the crowd as "orderly, patient and well behaved, there were no problems." He said the event went better than expected, inside and outside, given the size of the crowd and the passion over the issue. To his surprise, those who were very passionate inside the meeting were thanking the police and shaking their hands on the way out.
Rather than belittle those who attended, the APP editorial board, who so often laments how apathetic voters are, should be congratulating those are participating passionately.