Commentary: We can all learn from civil discourse

To the gentleman that felt the need to accost me yesterday at the polling place, starting the conversation by calling me "a piece of ..." (**insert appropriate expletive here**) and then admitting that your sole reason for doing so was because our politics are different; then accusing me of being the one that is responsible for the divisive nature of our country by further calling me a "big piece of &^#% child" for my name calling of the president; then escalating into yelling it in my face: I would like to apologize for engaging you for as long as I did. I would like to apologize for not having the internal strength to simply walk away from a name caller. But you see, I have found over my years on the planet that sometimes in order to create understanding you need to sometimes stay in uncomfortable situations. Even though you led into our conversation by name calling, I chose to stay and hear you out. Even after you started to yell in my face, I stayed to hear you out. Even when it was apparent that you weren't ever going to hear me. To that, when you don't know someone it's incredibly unfair to make broad assumptions. And you, sir, did indeed make a broad assumption. You assumed because of my political belief (which I should say runs right down the middle, even though I don't support our current president's ideology), that I do not support our veterans.

Now we have reached that point in the article where I need to apologize to anyone who bore witness to what happened next. To the witnesses of this shouting match I want to say a true and heartfelt apology; that sort of stuff is uncomfortable to watch and look at, and for that I am truly sorry. I should have just walked away.

But I couldn't. I couldn't because I was put in a position where someone who doesn't know me said something that couldn't have been further from the truth. This gentleman accused me of not supporting our veterans! I have never put on a uniform, this is true. What is also true is that I hold our veterans in the highest regard, I treat them with reverence and do what I can to fight for what they need. So, to stand and accuse me of talking badly about the veterans when you couldn't find one shred of evidence stating that I did, to accuse me of speaking badly and not supporting the U.S. vet Well, that was more than I could handle.

This gentleman served in our Armed Forces; even in the heat of this disagreement I thanked him for his service because at the end of the day I still hold him to a higher regard than he clearly holds me. But he was hanging onto my lack of support of the current administration and said that I was the problem. I suggested that I was supporting the current administration with the same level of respect that he most likely showed the previous administration.

A lot of things were batted around during this shouting match, so I don't want to get caught up in all the detail of it. I would like to add that I truly believe that this administration has opened the door for this style of behavior. It's almost as though they have permission to punch and yell as if some rich man has offered to pay the lawyers' fees.

Even though this happened, I would like to sit down with this gentleman over a cup of coffee and discuss our differences. It's called civil discourse. Since this gentleman was older than I am I'm sure he was raised with the same understanding of how you present yourself in public. We both failed at that yesterday. So I extend to you, sir, an invitation to sit down and discuss with me your point of view, and I will share my point of view. I'm sure we won't agree on anything, but I'm also sure that we'll be able to learn something. I'm also sure that we will agree on more than you think. Or we can simply walk away from one another and (quietly this time) ask, what the hell is up with that?

Fish is the opinionated morning jock on Classic Hits 92.7. He offers up his opinion at 7:50 a.m. every morning (Monday through Friday). Let's start the revolution. E-mail him at The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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