New colleague Colin McEnroe got this comment from "Equality" on his Hartford Courant blog:
Yelling is excellent aerobic exercise. When done correctly you get a good exchange of air in your lungs. Eastern martial arts makes good use of this technique. So I guess this was really a public demonstration for good pleural health which, if we all joined in on, may alleviate the need for health reform.
I think Equality might be on to something here. Whether the yelling is an attempt at healthy release, or a blind inability to listen to others' points of view, it's pretty clear that screaming has become the hammer in building a case for, or against health care reform. Note these boisterous gatherings across the state - all on a Wednesday night:
Daniela Altimari of the Courant writes that the crowd of 500 at West Hartford Town Hall was pretty much with Congressman John Larson - although he did get asked to "tell the truth" by some. And, as photographer Mark Mirko captured (left), there was a fair amount of "in-your-face" from the citizenry.
Robert Koch reports in the Norwalk Hour that 100 people stood outside Norwalk High School, unable to get inside because of the fire code. Freshman Jim Himes addressed about 1,100 people inside the hall - an event which featured this kind of thoughtful debate, as reported by Koch:
Mary Russell, a nurse, said she knew a 12-year-old who had two working parents but no health insurance and died as a result.
"What do we do about uninsured children?" Russell asked.
The comment triggered a shout from another person, who said, "Don't have children!"
Ted Mann of the Day writes that there was heckling and cheering for 2nd District Rep. Joe Courtney at Montville High. The crowd of about 500 asked questions about "single-payer" systems, and their fears of the goverment abolishing Medicare in the wake of the new public option.
This last "fear" struck me - especially after our conversation Wednesday with "public option" architect Jacob Hacker. His plan not only preserves Medicare, but builds on it as the foundation for what he calls a "public plan choice" (The term "Public Option" is so August, 2009).
I guess we'll have to rely on the distance of radio to have conversations that don't rely on yelling. Hacker certainly had his detractors call into our show, but they were civil and clearly in search of answers - not just a pound of flesh. Public radio civility has moderated our many discussions of reform, from a history lesson on "socialized medicine," to an exploration of health care through the lens of the Massachusetts model, to our own "town halls" with Congressional delegates like John Larson.
So, I guess our listeners are polite and like to...well, listen.
Meanwhile, this link from Facebook friend Shawn Lang: The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a side-by-side health care comparison of the various proposals. Illuminating, informative and helpful stuff...if you feel like shouting, or calmly discussing your opinions with a friend.