Hate speech has no place in health-care debate
Shame on tea-party protesters who revealed much about themselves this weekend by calling black and gay congressman ugly names as part of their protest against health-care reform.
PROPONENTS and opponents of health-care reform should agree on one thing: No debate is advanced by hate speech.
Rabid tea-party members who yelled racial and sexual-orientation slurs at members of Congress near the Capitol this weekend embarrassed themselves and the country with their deplorable conduct.
Hecklers who hurled the N-word at U.S. Reps. Andre Carson, D-Ind., and John Lewis, D-Ga., both of whom are black, were reminiscent of hideous scenes in the 1960s. Who are these ill-mannered, racists?
It was not just an accident or slip of the tongue. The N-word was shouted several times.
If that were not contemptible enough, other protesters thought Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank's openly gay status worth a hate-filled jeer or two. He was called a "faggot."
Anger is the driving emotion behind the tea-party movement. A little heated populism is fine. There has to be a place in American politics where citizens can express disapproval of many things government does.
But there is no place for unbridled racism and intolerance for black and gay lawmakers. None.
Anger is a tricky emotion because it is hard to control.
House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio — who spent much of the weekend using his own overheated rhetoric, including a comparison of health reform to Armageddon — agreed opponents had gone overboard. He called the epithets "reprehensible." Yes, indeed.
It is more difficult to create distance between reform opponents and Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, who yelled "baby killer" while Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, was speaking. Stupak spent his career supporting anti-abortion policy.
Health-care reform stirs deep passion on both sides of the political aisle. Still, there must be a line of name calling, jeering and hate speech that cannot be crossed.
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