Ann Bednarski: Show civility at Carson City community events

Last weekend flu shots were available at the Senior Center and at the Butti Way city facility. Both were announced in the Nevada Appeal and on the radio. It struck me as I participated in the "drive through flu shot" effort how well organized and delivered this community event was for the people of Carson City. Excellent job!

As I was making my way through the line of flu shot traffic, I was listening to a radio talk show. The subject was the embarrassment and humiliation a 16-year-old Pennsylvania school girl was subjected to by her teacher. What did she do? She wore a Romney-Ryan shirt to school for dress-down Friday. Her history class was told there would be a debate that day that could be on any topic. She thought it might be the presidential election.

Nothing happened out of the ordinary that day until she went to her last class, geometry. At the end of class the teacher asked her if her parents were Republicans; she did not know. The teacher then said wearing this shirt was the same as her wearing a Ku Klux Klan shirt. The radio host was getting his information by talking with her parents. Their daughter has been harassed. I ask again, what did she do?

I could not help comparing what I was listening to on the radio to participating in the flu shot distribution. Everyone on Butti Way was friendly, prepared, informed, and knew their assignment for the day. They were not making non-essential comments or asking questions about anything else but flu shot information from participants. That is what a professional person does, his job. What kind of shirt this girl was wearing has nothing to do with geometry. The KKK remark was childish, insensitive and demonstrated the teacher's ignorance and intolerance. What would she say was her purpose I wondered?

On Thursday, I also attended a "Shout-Out" at WNC's Marlette Hall. I wanted to hear a presentation about The City Center Project. It was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. but I arrived around 6:30 p.m. rather excited to hear and see how young college students would participate and just how informed they were as young voters.

I was indeed impressed. The person speaking as I entered the hall was a woman on the ballot for a state Board of Education seat. The first thing I heard were some of her comments about adding remedial reading courses to college catalogues. It was most interesting to me, as were the questions and concerns of many students. The young man who spoke about leaving a magnet school and returning to a regular school had some interesting insights about himself. I thought of him as a critical thinker. Other students brought up textbook problems and failure to be prepared for proficiency tests. I spoke about teaching remedial reading to military personnel and Gov. Sandoval's position on reading at grade level by third grade, which has not necessarily been implemented. The atmosphere was relaxed and trusting. We were all communicating.

Another speaker represented Shelley Berkley. I did not learn anything new about this candidate. She was asked a question about the Dream Act and had to leave. She did her assignment as best she could.

The next speaker came to the front of the hall and gave a short history of his career in retail sales. He also told us he was from New York and now lived in an affluent part of Carson City. He then said he wanted the students to know that "all Republicans are insensitive. They are not interested in anyone but themselves." I was taken aback by that comment and could not figure out what his topic was going to be. Someone in the audience was insulted and chose to confront him about his incendiary comments. A scuffle ensued and the man never returned to make his point. It made me think that he perhaps had no point but to bash Republicans. And that was not the purpose of the shout-out from what I observed from speakers both before and after the confrontation.

After a 15-minute interruption, the program resumed. The man who presented the points of opposition to the City Center Project was poised, prepared and eloquent in making his points. Everyone was attentively listening and likely appreciated getting back to the tone and purpose of this community event.

"Diversity" was the word a WNC official used at the end of the program stating, "We strive for diversity and welcome it." Degradation and disrespect for personal perspectives is not diversity.

Community events that help and inform our citizens are critical. Generalizations designed to intimidate or reduce the worth of any person's views only cause strife and not progress. Facts work much better.

• Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.


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