I have now had two well-attended town hall meetings and countless private and small group meetings since SB5 was introduced. In all instances, the teachers, ODOT employees, policemen, and other public workers I have met have been respectful while opposing my support for this legislation. They have passionately explained their positions, and on all occasions we have walked away with a better understanding of each other’s stance. This is the nature of respectable and polite discourse.
And then there are those who express through intimidation what they cannot express in words. This week a group of opponents of SB5 showed up at my family’s place of business. Yelling objections and waving signs, these people proved incapable of engaging in debate and their recourse was to disrupt my family’s workplace and the neighboring residents. It is one thing to rally at the statehouse or at a political office. It is quite another to do so at a private business especially when this group knew I was not in Marietta.
When my brother asked the protesters to leave, they threatened to move the protest to my home. My home where my wife and children live. This mob was prepared to accost my family while I was away.
Among the participants were many teachers and other public workers. Are these the kinds of individuals we want instructing our children? They hide behind signs and megaphones shouting epithets against an absent opponent, not caring who they disturb. They choose contempt over respectful dissent. Fortunately, these protesters represent only a small minority of the body politic.
To the people who affronted my family: I will thank you to leave my family alone. To those whom I have personally met at the many meetings I have had: thank you for your civility and I welcome your thoughtful arguments. I also thank those who vehemently oppose SB5 yet refused to participate in this shameless exhibition. To all my constituents, my doors are always open for respectful dialogue.
Rep. Andy Thompson