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Can We Please Just Dial It Down?



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The brief celebration of the six finalists of The Newtown Bee’s “Why I LOVE Newtown” Essay Project this week punctuated the end of one of the more inspiring community-building initiatives in recent memory with a gleaming exclamation point reflecting all of the 44 middle and high school age students who participated — as well as our community as a whole.

They serve as a reminder about not only how beautiful this town and its residents can be, but also as evidence of the potential our young people of today have if they are willing to stick around to be our community leaders of tomorrow.

As we celebrate all the promise so many of our young people will continue to exemplify as the school year winds down and we celebrate them at parties, graduations, moving up ceremonies, or just around the family dinner table, we are also reminded of the kind of example adults are setting for them.

For the second time in recent months, attendees divided over disagreements with officials at a public meeting erupted into jeering, insults, vulgar gestures, and cursing. In one case, we understand a cherished retired local pastor had to sit in the audience of the May 16 Board of Education meeting and hear his daughter serving on the board referred to in the most disgusting manner by an audience member.

While in hindsight that session should have been postponed altogether, it happened, and that evening exposed some of the worst examples we should be presenting to the many young people and others who gathered to eloquently and respectfully articulate their feelings on this divisive issue.

Over the course of this meeting, all but one motion or amendment made in the attempt to resolve this issue over keeping or removing certain books from the high school library stalled on 3-3 tied votes because the seventh board member, Don Ramsey, rightly chose to stand beside and comfort his dying wife. Many that night, and in subsequent conversations and social network posts, took Ramsey to task for his absence without knowledge of the personal tragedy he was enduring, while few offered the benefit of the doubt that his absence was justified.

On June 1, we have another rescheduled meeting during which we hope a final decision will be rendered on the book challenges. Those already complaining about the shift of that meeting from May 31 to June 1 need to know it was also changed to accommodate Ramsey so he could attend a memorial service for his beloved Maria.

That meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 pm in the high school auditorium, and will also (tech issues permitting) be livestreamed on YouTube. That means the eyes of a lot more than the good people of Newtown might be on us.

Ten years ago, the world watched Newtown as it began its most difficult journey toward recovery and resilience post 12/14. In many ways since then, we have been a shining example for the many communities facing school shootings and similar mayhem. Let’s not let the eyes of the world tune in on June 1 to witness a Newtown that has devolved into treating our own — especially the civic-minded individuals who have stepped up to serve in elected positions — with vulgarity and disrespect.

No matter how the book challenge issue turns out, we implore everyone attending to be mindful of the example we are displaying to anyone watching on YouTube, as well as our own children. Newtown is so much better than what has been displayed in recent weeks. Please dial down your anger or frustration and please represent Newtown for all the good we’ve already proven capable of exhibiting in the wake of the utmost worst of situations.

Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. brendan_l says:

    I appreciate this Editorial, thank you. I was unhappy with how people were acting in the May 2 meeting but the May 16 meeting blew me away. I could not believe how poorly participants behaved. And after reading this weeks edition of The Bee, I learned participants were worse than can be seen on the video recording.

    The worst part is all these poor behaviors, behaviors I would consider to be intolerant and bullying, are on full display for our children to watch and learn. Some role models they are being.

    Unfortunately, I could not attend this meeting so I had to wait a couple of days for the recording to post. I wish it was live streamed but, after watching how so many participants behaved themselves, I don’t know if I want the June 1 meeting to be live streamed on YouTube. I fear participants will not dial it down but instead ramp up their vulgarity and disrespect – exactly opposite of what this Editorial is calling for.

    1. nb.john.voket says:

      We hope they takes yours – and our respectful request to heart.

      1. brendan_l says:

        Welp John, these comments didn’t age well. Given the two resignations, I thought for sure people were going to be polite and keep quiet so the vote could quickly happen in their favor. But I guess some folks just couldn’t dial it down. Never would I have been able to predict that the loudest book supporter would salute hitler and give himself a hitler mustache. And he is Jewish. And he had a “I want you to punch nazis” shirt on. And on YouTube. What a sad times for our town. Good thing the kids kept their books!

  2. buckeyegibby says:

    I feel like I am having a fever dream. WHAT is happening to my hometown?! Imagine the children watching their parents act that way… I would be physically nauseated if I saw one of my parents calling another adult the “C” word. And that shirt, I can’t even…. Your kids are watching… their friends… parents… coworkers, your employer, your kids future employers. I see some change will come out of your behavior but none of it will be positive. If I was an employer of one of them, I would be reconsidering who I hire to represent my company. And if I was the child of one of those parents, I know I would be looking into ways I could reshape and salvage my future.

    Those who speak the loudest have nothing to say. Insecurities are loud.

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