There exists an emergent trend in the local discourse these days, and it goes something like this: if you oppose something, but didn’t say so on the record at the meeting where it was discussed, then your ideas are not credible, and you need to shut up.
It’s an amusing fallacy that, while rhetorically effective to some, should be rightfully vilified as logically bankrupt by all.
Witness the hectoring from GFPS educator Kimberly Clark:
Notwithstanding the irony of Clark’s lecture on “keyboard warriors” from her keyboard, to Tryon’s point, some folks simply can’t get there. They’re at work!
To a degree, I appreciate the sentiment: it is more impactful to show up to a meeting and speak your peace. But that doesn’t work for everyone.
Many folks find public meetings uncomfortable. This is a small town, and to be candid, some of our local bodies are historically not the most friendly. (Anyone remember Dona Stebbins?) A lot of folks are understandably not in love with the notion of going “on the record” and taking a position where they, their business(es), and/or their children could be met with reprisals. I get it. And many people just aren’t natural public speakers.
Thankfully, in our ever-changing Republic, folks do have a voice — online, via social media, and on forums like E-City Beat.
Consider this: of the 250+ different servers who view our blog, Great Falls Public Schools delivers the fourth most views. That’s huge! While it is on one hand amusing that our educators and administrators read ECB’s content on our, the taxpayers’ dime on District-tethered devices (and that doesn’t count their personal machines, like smart phones), is it honest to suggest that the District is really unaware of our ideas, whether they are good, bad, or indifferent? Should Tryon have had to excuse himself from work to deliver ideas the District was privy to already? Alternatively, what if Tryon got a hall pass from work, and said that the plan to bury the Campfire building was a bad call? Would his ideas have magically had more merit had he physically attended the meeting?
Such is the pathology of some of our readers.
And Clark is amazingly among the more sensible adherents to this tenet.
In truly unhinged fashion, local attorney Robert Kamper suggested that if Tryon didn’t make a good faith effort to buy the Campfire building, then he should have had no voice:
Perhaps Kampfer, after downshifting to a more sensible position, has a sense of humor….. but his initial instinct was absurd on its face. It does dovetail, though, with the default settings of Angry Readers Dennis Granlie and Patrick Caniporilielie [sic], who question ad nauseam — despite their absence — whether or not I or anyone with the temerity to question the School District has attended the most recent School Board meeting. (Apparently, you can support a decision in absentia, but you can’t oppose one.)
It is rhetorical maneuvering masquerading as a legitimate argument, and it is cheap. It’s a copout from facing or discussing any real ideas. If you or I, or anyone else, happened to attend the last Board meeting that the Trustees were indisputably prepared to ignore, does that make our ideas — whether we agree or not — any more or less legitimate?
I have asked it, sincerely so, and I have still yet to see any real response…..
What about the zoning?
Forget who went to the meeting….. and honestly answer the question: what about the zoning?
Precisely no one has answered this question yet.
Here’s a guess: If the School District’s “plan”, such that it is, were advanced by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rick Tryon, Cyndi Baker, or any other known conservative, outrage from the same District defenders, over a plan predicated on spending millions of our tax dollars in the hopes that the City will break its own rules, would be through the roof — no matter who attended any meetings — and that tells you all you need to know.