After the recent spate of venom being spewed at town hall meetings across America, it came as a breath of fresh air to hear Massachusetts senator Barney Frank giving as good as he got this week, telling an uptight constituent who was brandishing an inflammatory photo of Barack Obama:
"On what planet do you spend most of your time? As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated."
Frank was absolutely right. Much as free speech is one of the most valued of all American freedoms, the disrespectful and deliberately abrasive behavior of some attendees at these meetings of late has been absolutely contemptible. In all honesty, these vocal yokels appear to be far more interested in embarrassing elected officials and playing for the always-rolling cameras (and, by extension, waiting YouTube queues) than they are in engaging in constructive dialogue or looking for actual answers.
To compare Barack Obama to the leader of the Third Reich is so offensive that it borders on the absurd. Which is why Senator Frank's final zinger let him get the last laugh and avoid the deer-in-the-headlights look of his colleague Arlen Specter a few weeks earlier. Fired back Frank: "Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."
America, regardless of your views, please continue speaking your mind. But do so respectfully. And if your real intent is simple disruption or fleeting YouTube fame, stay at the dining room table, why don't you? The rest of us will hang out and talk in the kitchen, where all of the work (and the fun) happens anyway.