MINOT, N.D. — With our society divided the way it is right now, there are few things we're all going to agree on. Right or left, it's hard to find common ground right now.
But maybe there's one thing we can agree on.
Hecklers, specifically people who seek to intimidate others into silence, aren't people we should condone.
Case in point, a Minnesota-based conservative group called the Center of the American Experiment held a conference recently in Moorhead. The topic was critical race theory, a hot-button issue right now.
A woman named Vanessa Renee Clark from something called the Red River People Over Profits Initiative — as near as I can tell an offshoot of the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists aimed at people who don't want to use the word "socialist" quite so openly — was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
In a report about the incident, she seemingly admitted to putting her hands on another attendee. "I got arrested for ripping off an All Lives Matter button," she said.
Video shows Clark acting to disrupting the event with a lot of shouting and cursing and generally boorish behavior.
Faith Shields-Dixon, an organizer with Black Lives Matter of Fargo-Moorhead, claimed a man Clark got into an altercation with should have also been arrested — "He kicked her, he came after me," she reportedly told officers — but remember that last year Shields-Dixon also claimed a Moorhead police officer tried to force his way into her car.
Video later showed that this wasn't the case at all.
It's an incident that perhaps speaks to Shields-Dixon's level of veracity.
But let's get back to the topic of this column.
What Clark did shouldn't be condoned by anyone.
That's not to say that you have to like what the Center of the American Experiment has to say about critical race theory (though personally, I find them to be a very credible organization whose work I esteem), or disagree with Clark's arguments on the topic (you can guess how I feel).
This isn't really about critical race theory at all. Or our ideology or partisan affiliation.
It's about how we engage in our democratic process.
The Center of the American Experiment took the time to organize a peaceful assembly of a hundred or so people to discuss a topical issue. At least one person who disagreed with the group's stance on the issue tried to impede that meeting with aggressive behavior up to and including, by her own statement, putting her hands on one of the other attendees.
If Clark has any integrity, she should be ashamed of herself.
The group she's affiliated with should disavow her actions.
Instead, her temper tantrum will likely be cheered by her fellow activists because, increasingly in American politics, on both the right and the left, we've come to condone these sort of attacks on decorum and orderly debate as long as they're perpetrated by people we agree with.
That has to stop.
The only way it will stop is if we stop tolerating it.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.