Below is an excerpt from an op-ed written by State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157). In the article, Kampf is calling for an end to uncivil discourse. He uses a couple of examples in his editorial of uncivil speech, including Dariel Jamieson’s recent letters to the editors. It is not Jamieson’s right to voice her opinion concerning Kampf’s vote on the transportation bill that is the issue but rather her lying about a political pledge she states that Kampf took. As I said in my last post, Jamieson compounded the difficult situation by writing a second letter to the editor and not taking responsibility for her incorrect accusations contained in her first letter. Civil discourse means to engage in conversation intended to enhance understanding – personal attacks and lies are wrong and diminish the value of the argument.
In his latest op-ed, Kampf does not say Jamieson’s actions were politically motivated. However, when you write an editorial attacking a Republican elected official and sign the letter as chair of the local Democratic Committee (as Jamieson did), it is not a stretch to come to that conclusion. For those keeping score – Dariel Jamieson has now written two editorials attacking Warren Kampf in the last couple of weeks and Kampf’s op-ed marks his second response back to her. Here’s hoping that Jamieson does not feel compelled to write a third letter to the editor on the same topic!
Beyond the uncivil discourse created by Jamieson’s letters, I remain troubled that her actions as the political party chair are putting Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed, the newly elected Democratic Tredyffrin Township supervisors, in an awkward position less than a month before they take office. Wysocki and Freed will join five Republican supervisors on the Board and this ‘war of words’ from Jamieson going on in the background cannot be helpful to them. I will not believe that Jamieson sought counsel with either Wysocki or Freed before engaging in this discourse against Kampf – if she had, it is extremely doubtful that they would have approved either of these letters.
When you accept the role of president or chair of an organization, and act publically in that capacity, you need to ensure that your voice is representative of those that you are elected to serve – are Jamieson’s letters to the editor representative of TTDEMS members opinions? I hope not.
In closing, I echo Kampf’s words,” … every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse …” Below is the excerpt from Kampf’s Op-Ed, to read the entire article, click here.
It’s Time to End Uncivil Discourse
As State Representative, I am accustomed to hearing from constituents as they present their views and positions on issues being addressed in Harrisburg and here at home. Some agree with me. Some do not. But, mostly, all make their points in a manner that is respectful and fair. I work hard to do the same in answering their concerns. It’s called civil discourse, and it is one of the foundations of our representative democracy.
Unfortunately over the past few months – as we have seen arguments over government shutdowns in Washington, D.C., differences surrounding the recently enacted Transportation Funding package in Harrisburg, and now the passionate feelings over eminent domain issues in Phoenixville – it has become clear that too many have abandoned civil discourse in favor of uncivil speech and actions.
This speech and these actions do us no good. It forces people, who are otherwise normally reasonable, to abandon the idea of achieving pragmatic progress. It forces gridlock. It stops us from addressing truly important issues.
During the debate over the Transportation Funding package, I was accused in a Letter to the Editor of choosing my position based on a political pledge to a Washington, DC special interest group. The problem? I had never taken any such pledge (something that was easily verifiable with a simple internet search) and I had made it known publicly that my position came from surveying the people I represent. My attacker, however, had no problem simply submitting a lie to the newspaper. That’s uncivil discourse.
I give my attacker respect for her position on the issue and her passion over it. I believe, however, her point could have been made in a way that was more respectful to both the public and me. Had she made her point this way, I believe it may also have been more effective for those she wished to persuade. . . .
Let me be clear: I am in no way suggesting that citizens abandon making their voice heard, be it in favor or opposition to an issue. As the saying goes, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I am just suggesting that all of us – every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse again. In this way, we can find our way to truly addressing issues rather than just fighting about them. That is a simple goal we should all strive to achieve if we truly care about making our community stronger.”
2 CommentsAdd a Comment
I didn’t read this as any response to Dariel’s letter, especially since he never mentioned her by name. I think he made his response clear in the paper back then. The truth is, most of the public doesn’t know who she is or what happened, probably more so in parts of his district outside Tredyffrin.
I read that part of the Op-Ed as an example of the incivility the Representative is talking about. Either way, he’s right. Things have gotten too crazy.
I have no prob with government agents suggesting to other government agents that they be civil towards each other.
However, in LMT a few years back when citizens got involved in township meetings on some emotional issues, commissioners of both parties threatened to eject them from township meetings for not being “civil’. They even have an unconstitutional township code to back it. It says you can be ejected for being “rude” during public comment, which is extremely subjective and unconstitutionally vague and overboard.
I wrote a letter-to-the-editor of MLT at the time that threatening to eject citizens for using strong language that was not vulgar nor “fighting words” was patently unconstitutional and was meant to chill free speech.
Nothing wrong with civil discourse. It is certainly preferable, but don’t let government agents use it as a means to make citizens feel uneasy about speaking up and objecting for fear they may not come across as “civil”.