And it's pretty obvious who was there.
On the rare occasions when things started to get out of hand, it was usually because Johnson — ignoring his own event rules — began to respond directly to things shouted from the audience rather than to questions by citizens who took the time to wait in line and ask questions. In fact, those who booed most loudly and responded most vocally in the audience generally didn’t take the opportunity to stand and ask questions directly to the congressman. And once the respectful tone of the meeting was set early, more than a few of the more vocal opponents simply left.And who wasn't.
Meanwhile, constituents in Congressman Hank Johnson’s district all get smiley faces for good behavior. They have behaved as police authorities and the politician’s organizers desired. An organizer who runs his constituents through metal detectors at a public policy debate is afraid of the people he serves. That is not America.Jim, as a southern gentleman, you should know better than most that an invitation in my home does not provide you the privilege to drop trou and pee on my carpet. The rules for Hank Johnson's Town Hall were fairly straightforward and fair - no signs, no demonstrations from the audience, questions would be answered during the designated time period and if you were disruptive you would be booted. Despite these apparent draconian rules, both supporters lustily cheered and booed many times (and occasionally cat-called) without dire intervention by the authorities.
Only twice did the police step in.
Once wasn't seen by most. It happened as the assembly was concluding. Four young people who obviously supported health care reform, sporting packing tape over their mouths, stood in front of the army of television cameras. An officer quietly asked them to go outside and they complied.
The more widely reported ejection happened during the question and answer session. While constitutents patiently queued at the two microphones, a young man began shouting questions from the audience. When it became apparent he refused to shut up, officers did tap him on the shoulder and ask him to leave. That's it. That's all. Except later, outside, when he and his friends stood around chortling about how they disrupted the event and were going to be on the news.
No one wants to see a public gathering devolve into a riot and people with whom I spoke, on both sides of the issue, seemed pleased the structure resulted in a conversation instead of chaos.
Something Jim would have known if he had got off his semi-retired butt and provided his readers with some context instead of simply regurgitating the out of context partisan canards of the day.