Mob Mentality at Town Hall Meetings

US News • Views: 2,119

If anyone thinks this is the right way to debate health care, well, you’re dreaming: Health Debate Turns Hostile at Town Hall Meetings.

There’s a place for yelling, screaming, and protesting — at demonstrations scheduled for that purpose. When these Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck drones charge into town hall meetings, shout down speakers, and act like angry children throwing tantrums, they achieve nothing but to further cement the impression that the right wing is going dangerously nuts.

And who thought it was a great idea to gleefully adopt the name “mob?” Here’s a hint: it only works to satirically co-opt a derogatory term like “mob” if you’re not really acting like a mob.

Become a part of the mob!” said a banner posted Friday on the Web site of the talk show host Sean Hannity. “Attend an Obama Care Townhall near you!” The exhortations do not advocate violence, but some urge opponents to be disruptive.

“Pack the hall,” said a strategy memo circulated by the Web site Tea Party Patriots that instructed, “Yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

“Get him off his prepared script and agenda,” the memo continued. “Stand up and shout and sit right back down.”

The memo was obtained by the liberal Web site ThinkProgress. Its author, Robert MacGuffie, a founder of the conservative Web site Right Principles, confirmed to The New York Times that the memo was legitimate.

In response, liberal groups and the White House have also started sending supporters instructions for countering what they say are the organized disruptions.

A volatile mix has resulted. In Mehlville, Mo., St. Louis County police officers arrested six people on Thursday evening, some on assault charges, outside a health care and aging forum organized by Representative Russ Carnahan, a Democrat. Opponents of the proposed changes, organized by the St. Louis Tea Party, apparently clashed with supporters organized by the Service Employees International Union outside a school gym.

That same day in Romulus, Mich., Representative John D. Dingell, a long-serving Democrat, was shouted down at a health care meeting by a rowdy crowd of foes of health care overhaul, many crying, “Shame on you!” A similar scene unfolded in Denver on Thursday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California visited a clinic for the homeless there.

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