August 17th, 2012
09:06 PM ET

Letters to the President #1306: 'Bullies around the bully pulpit'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every single day. I hope he is listening.

Dear Mr. President,

I must say that I am sorely disappointed at the notion that people are increasingly showing up at political rallies simple to shout down the speakers. Now, I believe in free speech as much as the next idiot with an opinion, but it seems to me that this tactic falls into an entirely different category. I do not care if the victim is a Democrat, Republican, or a member of the Bull Moose Party.

Simply shouting out to keep someone else from speaking is the adult equivalent of a toddler clamping his hands over his ears and yelling "yayayayayayayayayayayay" over and over when a parent tries to tell him something he'd rather not hear. Actually, the toddler has the advantage of arguably not knowing any better. He is just being a child. The adult is being a jerk.

I know that you have encountered some of this behavior, and you've tried to handle it with grace. But I think we would be well served if leaders in both major parties would make it hugely clear how wrong this kind of activism is; and they should do so specifically when it is being used against an opponent. How can we ever actually debate issues if this becomes an accepted form of political participation?

Funny thing, I always find myself listening much more closely to any speaker when protestors try to shout him or her down. After all, I figure if the message is so compelling that the only way to fight it is to yell until it can't be heard, then it is probably well worth consideration.

Give a call if you have a moment. Are you still considering my suggestion that you invite Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi to the White House?


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