What happened to respectful dialogue?by Marc Severson on Aug. 13, 2011, under Education
Early on in this process I had a penpal who coincidentally was named “Mark”. I was reminded of him today when reading Ms Hunnicutt’s interesting articles about the TUSD board. 1) The memory was exacerbated by coverage of Mitt Romney speaking yesterday in Iowa.
One of the things I most appreciated from my engineer friend was his comment:
I find that respectful dialogue is one of the fantastic things about the nation we live in. I appreciate that your response to my comment post directly addressed issues, and did not devolve into the ad hominem. Bravo.
This was high praise indeed in light of what seems to be accepted behavior these days. Mark and I did not agree. We were on opposite sides of most every issue. But each of us listened to the other and responded in kind.
As a teacher, I will not accept a student speaking out of turn, interrupting another speaker before they are finished or blurting things out inappropriately. Such students are instructed as to acceptable behavior, warned, then removed. They are allowed to request that they return but repeated offenses are dealt with more severely.
But I am dealing with children who have not yet attained a full decade of life experience.
I would not expect such behavior by adults.
The right to disagree with someone is an important one. Listening to your opponent’s arguments and then attempting to respond to those arguments and refute them is key to the health of a functioning democracy. The right to silence opponents through screaming and intimidation is not. That is called bullying. In our school we have a “NO BULLYING” rule. Maybe it is time to interpolate this rule into our society at large. We seem to have lost sight of the concept.
There are those who will say that Ms. Grijalva was wrong to leave a board meeting where her family was being defamed. She was elected to the position, she should remain through out the meeting. I would respectfully disagree. If the speaker was arguing that her decisions upon some educational issue were wrong then she should stay, listen and be ready to defend her position but when discussions devolve into attacks, she is under no obligation to listen. No public servant should have to endure bullying. None of us should.