Uncivil affairs in Philadelphia, the city that shouts you down

Protesters upset the event with 1210 talk radio's host Dom Giordano with Gov. Corbett having a town meeting at the Art Museum Wednesday, September 19, 2012. ( STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer )
Protesters upset the event with 1210 talk radio's host Dom Giordano with Gov. Corbett having a town meeting at the Art Museum Wednesday, September 19, 2012. ( STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer )
Posted: September 27, 2012

IF YOU REMEMBER your Orwell, he talked a lot about the corruption of language as a major goal of anyone who wants to cripple opposition. I had an Orwellian hour last week when I hosted Gov. Corbett in a town hall gathering at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My opponent wasn't Big Brother, but a rabid herd of children connected to the Occupy movement.

These people believe that freedom of speech means that they can infiltrate an event and curse, heckle and attempt to shout down a sitting governor. More importantly, the Romper Room protesters were aided and abetted by the Philadelphia Police Civil Affairs Unit, which believes that there is some civil right involved in continuously standing up and screaming at the speakers onstage.

The police and apparently the city government have fashioned this Bizarro World Dance of Ignorance in which each disruption must be allowed to go on for several minutes; only then can a warning be given and finally the "child" is asked to leave. One disruption was allowed to go on for seven minutes. Try having an in-depth conversation with the governor with an allotted 75 minutes, and three quarters of it is used up dealing with self-absorbed, basically unclean, iPhone-toting people with too much time on their hands.

Besides allowing this blatant disregard for the rights of my listeners to hear and interact with the governor, city officials model this hostility to conservatives and conservative values all the time. We recently had Mayor Nutter in person attacking Mitt Romney because he dared to visit a Philadelphia school. We've had Councilman Chatterblast (Jim Kenney) tell Chick-Fil-A to take a hike due to its owner's stance on gay marriage. We've had the numerous labor-union attacks and threats against various businesses in Philadelphia.

It all adds up to an ugly Philadelphia attitude of intolerance. We need to change the city's tourism slogan: Philadelphia isn't "The City That Loves You Back"; it's "The City That Lumps You Back." When it comes to creating a climate that welcomes prospective residents, businesses or conventions, Philadelphia today is about as welcoming as an elbow to the jaw or a sharp stick in the eye.

This town's powers don't want or respect a loyal opposition. The only good Republicans are those who take their crumbs and roll over for a succession of dysfunctional Democratic city governments. The problem is that the rest of the commonwealth often elects governors like Tom Corbett. They see the media coverage of the shouting-down of Corbett and wonder why would he come back to Philadelphia. They know that Mayor Nutter or Gov. Ed Rendell would not have been treated in this manner.

The next act of this Bizarro World in Philadelphia occurred last week when Mayor Nutter addressed the Marcellus Shale Coalition Convention at the Convention Center. This is a group representing a huge key to economic development for the entire state. It's estimated that the convention brought more than $5 million to the Philadelphia economy. The mayor told those attending the convention that they still had to earn the trust of Philadelphians. Also, in an apparent reference to the marauding protesters outside the Convention Center, the mayor told them to enjoy all things Philadelphia and respect our great Philadelphia tradition of freedom of speech.

Suppose the people at the convention thought the mayor should be more welcoming, rather than lecturing them about their duties? Suppose they read the papers and wondered about the city's murder and crime rate? Suppose they saw the news of the city's public schools' abysmal scores on the PSSA tests in the light of a crackdown on teachers and administrators cheating on these standardized tests? Suppose they wanted to jump up and say, "Look at all the trash around your city?" And suppose they had a belly-full of all the union hoops they had to go through at the Convention Center?

It still would have been totally out of bounds to disrupt the mayor's speech. We rightfully would have heard that these people were violating the mayor's ability to be heard.

I've lived in Philadelphia all my life. I haven't run to the suburbs. I have standing to say that the hostility that this city shows is ugly and self-defeating. Do the mayor and other officials not see that they have to work with Tom Corbett? Are they that delusional that they think free speech means a bunch of morons yelling "Mic check!" as they shout down everyone else?

Are these people and their "movement" really to be celebrated? These are intolerant children testing the limits. They had a right in an orderly manner to ask questions of the governor. I used many of their questions. They didn't have a right to throw a tantrum. It's time for the grown-ups to reclaim Philadelphia.


Teacher-turned-talk show host Dom Giordano is heard on WPHT (1210-AM) radio. Contact Dom at domgiordano.com.

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