Monday, October 25, 2010

Adventures in babysitting

Pulling into the parking lot at Monte Vista Middle School Saturday night I knew we were in trouble.  The line of campaign signs and demonstrators chanting in the rain was a good indication that the congressional forum scheduled to begin two hours was going to be a bumpy ride.

The evening was scheduled to be a political forum between candidates vying for the 11th Congressional District seat on the November 2 ballot.  But the night quickly turned into an example of why I don't like politics.  It wasn't just the Democrats or the Republicans that were a problem, it was everyone.  How a crowded room of adults turned into a squabbling pack of children is amazing.

The first fun encounter of the night was with a group of picketers on the school property with campaign signs.  The school district had given us clear guidelines on the use of their facilities for the forum, and chief among them was no campaigning on the school property.  So silly me I explain the situation and tell them I need them to move along.  No such luck.  I am rebuked and the picketers chant freedom of speech and continue along their way.  Nice.  I need some jerk in the rain explaining freedom of speech to me-really?  Seriously?  Thankfully the police were able to move those morons along which left me with the unruly children inside.

I can understand the fevered emotions and partisan politics but when we make an announcement of little things like don't interrupt the speakers, keep your signs down so other people can see, no name calling it sounds like we are talking to a room full of four-year-olds.  And a vast portion of the crowd did indeed behave like juveniles.  The highlight of my night was when someone comes up to me to see if I can have a person kicked out because they were "being mean".  Really?  seriously?  You got your feeling hurt?  So I try and get specifics and it was they were saying "really mean things" and they he was dressed "offensively".  Lord give me strength.

So I have a talk with this person and give them a warning.  Don't talk to anyone leave people alone or they would be removed.  Then later the person who complained turns out to be a screamer and shouts at the opposition candidate throughout the evening.  Welcome to adulthood.  I had talked with Tracy Police officers and was told I could have audience members removed if I thought they were causing a disruption.  Kind of a weighty responsibility to try and determine when a person' right to free speech has gone to far and created a nuisance or danger to others.  I could not  throw someone out of the building just because they were dressed the way someone didn't like.
And there were the people who would interrupt speakers, the cat calls, the shouts of "liar!" across the room and the jeers and taunting.  Looked less like a political forum and more like a school playground.  I wasn't impressed by either party's behavior.  The other forums we hosted this year had the best, respectful audience members and those forums were a pleasure to work out as we informed the voters about the candidates. All I walked away with from this forum was that no matter which candidate wins the candidates supporters and crowd lost my vote of respect.


Mike McLellan, D. Min. said...

I missed it and I am glad. A friend told me that he left because it was not worth the hassle. Too bad you guys got stuck with those folks and you were doing us all a favor at that.

Amanda said...

Holy cow.

Anonymous said...

I did not attend the debate but my wife (Harmer supporter) did and Harmer supporters saw how short handed they were and volunteered to help you all set up inside.

It might be dutiful to remember that 1 in 5 Californians are unemployed because of the job killing policies of McNerney. CD11 has lost 90,000 jobs since McNerney has been in office. He has voted on with Pelosi 96% of the time but the district is split 50/50 and he has continuously towed the Obama, Pelosi line and ignored the will of his constituents with a tone deaf ear holding no free, in person, open to the public town halls. Before during and after he voted on some very extreme bills like ObamaCare he hid and refused to face constituents in CD11.

Jerrys lack of representation in his partisan politics has created alot of anger and animosity in CD11 and while I don't condone any rude behavior, I am very surprised you could not empathize with the frustration Harmer supporters feel . McNerney is no independent and most of the people in attendance know his record and how he has voted and Jerry's vote can not lie.

On the other hand you did well to draw attention to the fact that not everyone in the forum played well together.

Glenn Moore said...

I usually don't post comments like the one above but someone would cry and whine I was "censoring their freedom of speech". Not much to emphatize with, the harmer supporters were acting like rude little children, they were just as much a problem at the forum as the Mcnerney folks. Best part about the drivel that was just posted on my blog? It was annonymous. Typical.