At a recent town hall meeting in New Jersey, a woman named Marianne Hoynes, who is bound to a wheelchair consumed a full two-and-a-half minutes to tell her representative why she supports health care reform, and why the Congress needs to stand-up for individuals similarly situated.
Approximately 20 seconds into her statement – and when it became clear she supported reform – audience members began booing and hissing at her appeal to her representative.
Nonetheless, she continued on, recounting the story of Kitty Genovese – a woman who was murdered in front of her home in New York. Neighbors recounted hearing the young woman’s screams, but did nothing because they assumed someone else would help her. Her famous murder led to research into what has become commonly known as the bystander effect.
Hoynes goes on to note, “What happens to the least of us in our society is the definition of who we are.”
She explains that one of her medications costs $389 every two weeks, and even though she owns her home, she is in fear of losing it because she is unable to afford both her property taxes and her prescriptions. For this, she is booed and hissed even more by hecklers who demand that she ask a question, or turn over the microphone to someone else.
The nastiness being exchanged at town hall meetings – fist fights and fingers being bitten off; destruction of property; assault rifles toted among God-fearing Christians who attend a church where the Pastor wishes death upon the president; and the shameless heckling of a disabling woman – is the disgraceful turn that the health care dialogue has taken.
It is being driven by an irrational fear that disingenuous republicans, sensationalist, rate-chasing, television commentators, and know-nothing radio talk-show hosts have created through the propagation of unsubstantiated myths. It backfired in 2008, and it will backfire again
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