Way beyond rudeness

December 18, 2011 

The Dec. 10 editorial "That'll teach 'em" readily acknowledged that the Rev. William Barber, Tim Tyson, the Rev. Nancy Petty and others from outside Wake County should be ready to accept the consequences of their actions. However, it suggested that the consequences of their behavior should be a simple slap on the wrist.

During the past two years, the school board tolerated a variety of disruptions at public meetings, from cheering and jeering to shouting and verbal attacks. Some participants simply refused to maintain civility and adhere to proper decorum. While rude and disrespectful, this sort of behavior did not result in any arrests.

The actions of Barber, Tyson, Petty and the others were not simple acts of civil disobedience or disruption. During the time designated for public comment, these individuals shut down the public's business, refused to leave the podium, used offensive language and ultimately crossed security barriers to physically take over the seats of the elected school board members. The safety of the board as well as of those in the audience was threatened.

The extreme and intimidating tactics of Barber and his cohorts deliberately created chaos and fear. Behavior of this magnitude is unacceptable in any public meeting. Mediation may be appropriate for some misdemeanor charges. Leniency, however, for the sort of reprehensible behavior displayed by Barber only serves to set the stage for future disruptions.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

Ron Margiotta


The writer is the former chairman of the Wake County school board.

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