Bethel Resident Says Rude Behavior Ruled at Monday’s Town Meeting
Although I have previously attended the Annual Town Meetings in Bethel, it’s only in the past few that I have gone to the microphone. So last night, filtering my questions through the moderator, my first query was answered by one of the panelists. I turned back to the moderator to ask a followup. As I was speaking, another panelist began to speak, even though I was in the middle of asking another question! I looked pleadingly at the moderator, hoping she would step in, to no avail. So I addressed the panelist myself and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t believe I’ve asked the question yet.”
A loud “boooo” rose up from the crowd. It appeared that by speaking out and challenging this particular panelist, I had offended at least two-thirds of the room! The audible groaning continued as several other residents made unpopular comments, with applause breaking out when their motions failed. The moderator did not intervene. Those who comprised this unruly majority were mainly the supporters of the budget as it stood. The minority, like myself, asked questions and made motions to reduce it.
Interestingly, Bethel’s school system maintains a strong policy against bullying and celebrates diversity, so it seems paradoxical that the very people who support its budget would engage in such flagrantly rude behavior towards those whose points of view do not exactly mirror their own.
To the parents who attended, many of them with their children, here’s what your behavior teaches them: “Don’t ever express an opinion that goes against the popular majority, because if you do, you will be publicly derided. Make sure if you ever hear someone challenging the status quo, that you are vociferous in your contempt of them.”
It’s interesting to note that those in the minority sat quietly and spoke politely.
Anyone who speaks at any official Town gathering should be treated with respect and should be able to express his or her point of view without fear of public attack. That’s just part of being an adult in a civilized society.
~Cynthia McCorkindale, Bethel, CT.