DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.
The Utah Inland Port Authority was all set to open its monthly meeting Wednesday inside a gym at North Star Elementary School in west-side Salt Lake City when protesters disrupted it. The board chairman tried to speak over the group to tell them about the opportunity for public comments, but he was drowned out.
“Abort the port, abort the port,” they intoned, over and over. The roughly two dozen protesters, shouting into bullhorns, ultimately hijacked the meeting, which was postponed.
My parents taught me about the and-then-what game, so I could think about the consequences of my actions. You shout down the meeting — and then what? The meeting is rescheduled, but you drown out that meeting — and then what? Another meeting is scheduled, but public comments are banned because your actions put an end to that. And then what?
No other opinion counts but mine — so there
Is anybody going to listen to the protests of “Abort the port, abort the port” and end up switching their position? No. Protest and disrupt until the other side relents and changes their opinion? Not going to happen. This gets under my skin like few other things do.
I believe in the power of protest, but there is a right way, a right time and a right place to do it. The United States has a long history of protests. But I do not support shutting down the people’s business because someone disagrees with the idea of holding a meeting to discuss alternative ideas.
Protesters are thinking that there can be no place for any other opinions because you are right and everyone else is wrong. Shout down any other point of view. Yell into the bullhorn. Afterward, the tactic is the news, not the issue of the Inland Port, which is what the meeting was supposed to be about, but, regrettably, it was shut down.
I once went to a school board meeting in Texas. I was nervous, but I said my piece and told the board why I thought their policies were wrong. Afterward, several people in the hallway said to me, “You know, JayMac, I had never looked at it that way, in those terms.”
I could have yelled into a bullhorn, but that changes no hearts and no minds. I chose to engage in the arena of ideas, not intimidation.
Unfortunately, the school board did not change their position, which is their right, because the board is comprised of elected officials. That’s the way democracy works, folks. But, hey, I was given an opportunity to state my position, alongside others who disagreed with mine.
Instead of winning others over to your point of view, you turn hearts and minds against you when you are a belligerent, blaring bully shouting and disrupting the people’s business.
Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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