5:08 PM Eastern - Friday, August 7, 2009

Stop the violence at health care town halls

Things are turning ugly. Town halls, which typically serve as open, safe environments to ask questions of elected officials, have degenerated into violent shouting matches.

Last night in St. Louis, Missouri, a reverend and member of SEIU was assaulted at a town hall. The incident, along with a town hall in Tampa, Florida, has been all over the radio and cable news shows. GOP operatives are rushing to paint it as SEIU "thug" violence. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Watch the video with footage from these events: http://action.seiu.org/townhall

Cable news channels are broadcasting images of neighbors turning against one another in chaotic, sometimes frightening town hall meetings. Incited by extremist radio and TV hosts, "teabagger" protesters are yelling and chanting talking points that span from radicalism to racism.

Enough is enough. Click here to sign a pledge for civil, honest debates about health care reform: http://action.seiu.org/townhall

It is extremely discouraging to see people treating one another like this. And it's a reminder of how GOP scare-tactics ("the government will kill the elderly,!" "the government will choose your doctors!" or "the government will ration care!") use fear to overpower the truth.

We are at a turning point. To succeed, we will continue to elevate this conversation, distinguish ourselves from the opposition, and speak to our fellow Americans with respect and dignity. Where we disagree, we'll invite discussion. And when we agree, we'll work together toward a solution.

That's the only way we're going to solve our nation's health care crisis. When it comes to quality, affordable health care, the stakes are too high to let shouting run the show.

Thanks for standing up.

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