But every right includes a corollary obligation. The right to speak, therefore, should include a duty to listen. And that's what bothers me. There's always a group of people who want council to hear what they have to say, but they can't stick around to listen to anyone else. A perfect illustration of that principle came at a meeting of Northampton County Council several weeks ago, when a horde of open space advocates arrived to make their support clear.
The evening's first speaker, Plainfield Township Supervisor Matt Glennon, droned on for his allotted five minutes about how "politically brave" it is to raise taxes a half mill for universally popular open space. The evening's second speaker, the Sierra Club's David Maguire, would certainly add something a little more significant. But I never got to hear him.
This is because Glennon, as soon as he was done with his spiel, couldn't be bothered to listen to anyone else. He's too important. And as he left council chambers, he carried on a loud conversation with a passerby that made it impossible for most of us in the peanut gallery to hear Maguire or anyone else.
Glennon was by no means the sole offendor. Prince of Poverty Alan Jennings is a nonresident who didn't let that little fact stop him from telling us what to do with our money. Forks resident Ken Nagy, an open space opponent, addresses every council meeting he attends. Neither could stick around to hear what anyone else had to say.
In fact, I pointed this out to Ken Nagy today when he called WGPA 1100 AM to tell listeners what he thinks about something. When I started talking to him, the bastard hung up on me, proving my point.
Why should a governmental body listen to these folks when they can't listen to each other?