Blogger: Don't Expect Peaceful Health Care Debate

In this week's BackTalk, Tell Me More bloggers add their perspective on why they think the health care debate has sounded more like an uproar at some town hall meetings than civil discourse. But one blogger says, because health care is very personal for so many, a peaceful debate may be an unrealistic expectation. Also, following the program's recent discussion on Britain's overhaul of the Turks and Caicos government, one blogger has little sympathy for those officials on the island being given the boot. Host Michel Martin and digital media producer Lee Hill comb through listener feedback.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here with me, as usual. Hey, Lee.

HILL, Host:

Hey, Michel. Well, the ongoing debate over President Obama's proposed health-care legislation continues to grow louder across the country at many town hall meetings, and we note that this week was no exception. But Michel, in your commentary, you raised an interesting point about whether all the shouting and hostility will, in the end, overshadow the real issue. Here's a clip from this week's Can I Just Tell You?

MARTIN: Is anybody really debating anything here? And while I don't want to dismiss the understandable anxiety most people probably feel about what seem like huge changes to something as important as our health care system, I cannot help but feel that for too many people, the acting out is the real agenda and actually more important than the outcome.

HILL: But Michel, blogger GN(ph) slightly disagrees. The post reads: Democracy isn't historically a blissful peace, where two sides with opposite views sit in a garden and have a polite discourse. Maybe in fantasy politics. The noise level of our modern world is partly to blame, but human nature is the main culprit. We want to crush those who stand in the way of what we believe is right.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, GN. Break it down. Lee, one of our own, TELL ME MORE editor Alicia Montgomery, took to the blogosphere recently to write about what she describes as a rhetorical bomb, the term racist. Some people think they're just calling it the way they see it. Some people are using it to defame. Some seem to just want attention.

Lately, the term has also been used by some well-known white conservatives, like Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck to describe President Barack Obama. Well, we caught up with blogger Judith, who is white. She had a comment about Alicia's blog. Here's what she had to say.

JUDITH: It is quite an eye-opening experience when white men start calling black men and women racists. My observation is that many whites feel fear that they may be overlooked, left behind, and way down deep, anger that a man of color who graduated from the best colleges, reads and writes books, lived in a foreign land and had many experience as a young person that many whites have never had.

MARTIN: All right, thank you, Judith. Lee, what else?

HILL: And switching gears now a bit, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WIND YOUR BODY")

DAVID LIGHTBOURNE: (Singing) ...white is all white. Shake your body, girl. Shake it all around. Shake your body...

HILL: And that's the song "Wind Your Body" by popular Turks and Caicos artist David Lightbourne. Well, this week we talked about his native country, a vacation paradise for many Americans and Europeans - I have not been there, though, by the way...

MARTIN: So you say.

HILL: ...was stripped of self-governance by the British crown amid allegations of corruption. But I'm looking here at a blog post from Rebecca, who writes: I can't blame the Brits for clamping down on what is obviously a government so inept and compromised in its ability to properly execute its laws and govern its own people. How long would you want to wait? Until the coffers are empty, and there's complete implosion? In other words, Michel, Rebecca says it's about time.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Rebecca. So where do you go on vacation, Lee?

HILL: Well, not that far, probably across the street.

MARTIN: Okay, sure, we'll go with that. And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can all our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also long onto our new Web site, where you can read more from fellow listeners and enjoy a simpler social-networking experience. Go to the new npr.org. Click on programs, and then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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