OUR VIEW: Public officials 
need to play nice


By Daily News • Last Updated 12:55 pm on Thursday, January 19, 2012

What ever happened to civility in government?

Last week we got treated to yet another display of shouting and poor manners during a public meeting. Last year, Montcalm Township meetings were typified by such behavior. This year, Pierson’s village council has taken the torch.

The village Department of Public Works director yelled at council members before storming out of the meeting.

We also saw a near fist fight on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives not long before Christmas. Character assassination and hatred have been the rule in Washington for years now.
Why does it have to be this way?

Years ago, politicians at all levels of government could disagree with each other philosophically but still enjoy a cup of coffee together afterward. Nowadays, it seems he who shouts the loudest and says the nastiest things about his opponent wins.

This must be the ugly side of democracy. Our government is set up to reflect the society it represents. As respect has waned in our society, so has civility in government. The only way to restore civility is for people to take a stand at the polls and elect candidates whose campaigns aren’t more examples of gutter politics.

For people who are elected or employed by the people, beware of the consequences. The public more and more is armed with audio and video recording devices. Nasty comments about your nemesis made in public or private could easily wind up on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.

We captured the heated argument during Pierson’s council meeting on video and posted it online. As more of the population becomes armed with smartphones, digital cameras and recorders the chances of more angry encounters ending up online increase.

That’s probably not something for which you’d like to be known.

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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