The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 4, 2013

Dam debate took an ugly turn


DANVILLE — Thanks to the endless stream of babbling noise coming from those who declare themselves to be commentators, Americans find it difficult to conduct true debate about a topic.

Local residents who attended an open house to discuss a proposal to remove two dams in Danville — one at Ellsworth Park and the other behind the Public Safety Building — know what we mean.

After some initial discussion, representatives of a group who oppose removing the dam took over the proceedings to air their views.

During that process, the father of a young woman who drowned several years ago at the dam near the PSB came forward to speak his piece.

This was a discussion about water levels and small mouth bass — until this father stepped up to give a human face to the tragedy of his daughter drowning in the river.

There certainly are two sides to this debate. Reasonable people can disagree about the proper way to move forward.

No father who has lost a child in such a manner deserves to be treated the way a few in the audience treated this man.

Some in the crowd shouted him down, with some heartless cretins telling him his daughter brought the tragedy on herself. Can a few fish be worth that kind of behavior?

Disagreeing with another’s point of view doesn’t require a loss of civility or compassion. People who disagree can have a debate without anger, insults and behaving like clods.

The incident should have embarrassed all who joined in, and should embarrass anyone who lives here. We can do better. We must do better. Until we do, we’re no better than those commentators who think the volume of their words means more than the substance of their words.