Keep the discussions fair

In the not too distant past, I’ve written about civility and maintaining a sense of common decency — even when we don’t necessarily agree with what may be going on around us.

I feel a real need to bring up the issue once again.

We have some real problems with the tone and tenor of public discussion in these United States of America. This can very easily be seen in the unfortunate style of commentary being broadcast around the electronic media — in both directions.

The often unfettered craziness offered up by the likes of Glen Beck and Keith Olbermann on differing sides of the political spectrum is just ... crazy.

But folks lap it up — and too often spit it out in more local forums.

People can be pretty vicious.

Here’s the deal ...

In past weeks and months, I’ve been pretty worried about the policies of Gov. Rick Snyder. I believe he and those who follow his way of thinking are making some serious, serious mistakes. I am concerned about not only what Snyder’s policies hold for the distant future, but how they will more immediately affect the community in which I live.

It is my opinion that Snyder, and his GOP supporters in the legislature are not accurately representing the people from their elected districts. It is my opinion that they are working very, very hard to fulfill an agenda that will not serve the best interests of the largest majority of people in the State of Michigan.

I have said so, I have written so, and I sign my name to everything I put out there.

Every opinion piece I write has my name prominently posted at the top of the page. I don’t go sneaking around and offering up some hit-and-run opinion without people knowing who said what and when.

If I disagree with State Sen. Darwin Booher, and if I take issue with the legislative actions of State Rep. Phil Potvin, they know it, the readers know it, everyone knows it.

I disagree. I say and write what I think. And we all move on.

No secrets.

Look, at the end of the day I like Darwin and consider him a friend — even though I disagree with policies he supports in the Senate.

I firmly believe that Booher and Potvin are doing what they think is right, (for whatever reason), even though I may disagree.

They do what they do. I write what I write.

They push a program or policy. I will, in my own humble way, call them to task.

We obviously approach political issues of the day from different directions, but the fact that we look at things differently doesn’t mean they are or I am “evil.”

It means we look at things differently.

Recently, the lack of public civility has gotten even more disquieting.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, when I have something to say to Darwin Booher or Phil Potvin, it’s going to be right out there — in the open, on the written page.

Just me, and just them.

If I disagree with Darwin Booher, it’s just me disagreeing with him as a state senator.

It’s not me and his family.

I don’t write about Phil Potvin’s wife or mother. I don’t write about Darwin Booher’s children or grandchildren.

It has nothing to do with them.

Frankly, they are neighbors and I, in fact, consider some of these folks friends.

That doesn’t mean I have to agree with Booher or Potvin, but it does mean I need to say what I have to say while leaving their families out of the story.

Booher’s grandkids are not responsible for his policies in Lansing, or the GOP’s program for economic reform.

For anyone, and more especially for an adult to say to an elementary school kid, “If we don’t have track next year it’s because of your grandpa” is cheap and simply a form of bullying at its worst.

To threaten a person in a place of public service with violence of any kind to members of the family is just lower than low, (and Lord knows I’ve been there.) I can’t think of much that is more abhorrent.

Here’s the deal ...

You don’t like what’s going on in the state or locally — say so.

Keep a civil tongue about you. Write a letter to the editor, (or better still, directly to the legislator.) Say what you think, and identify yourself.

Don’t be anonymous.

I’m not. And at the end of the day, I have no problem siting down with Darwin or Phil and having a cup of coffee or a glass of beer.

We may discuss politics. We hopefully won’t.

There are other things to talk about. Better things.

I can disagree with their policies without belittling their personalities.

You should too.

And leave their families out of it.