Letter to Editor: Civil discourse?

To the Editor:

We almost made it. The latest in a series of “civil discourse” meetings got to the closing bell before it blew up. The meetings were initiated last year by Ron Beard and Nina St. Germain. Librarian Ruth Eveland at the Jesup Memorial Library offered to host the events on neutral territory.

The idea was to take hot town topics and discuss them in a moderated forum so that we, the people could listen to presenters, ask questions and develop an informed opinion about the topics at hand.

We worked through the hour and a half allotted and, with the consent of both the panel and the audience, agreed to extend the meeting for fifteen more minutes. When the extra time had elapsed, two people with a wish to prolong the discussion and apparent anger management issues proved that civil discourse is beyond us.

One raised his voice in a profanity-laced tirade, the other rushed toward the panel shouting and waving his arms. Nina St. Germain calmly and courageously stepped into his path, held her hands up palms forward, and slowly walked toward him, forcing him to back off.

The individuals in question did not do their cause any favors. Worse, they ripped another strip off the idea that we can get together and have a grown-up discussion about matters over which reasonable people might disagree. It took just two people to make a mockery of civil discourse and end a helpful meeting on a sour note.

Jill Goldthwait

Bar Harbor

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