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Council members need to upgrade debate skills

2014-06-30T00:00:00Z 2014-06-30T12:30:17Z Council members need to upgrade debate skills The Billings Gazette
June 30, 2014 12:00 am

On Monday the City Council was asked to submit to "sensitivity training." In lieu of sensitivity training I would like to suggest a training session in the fine art of public debate. The citizens of Billings are looking for a council person who can state the issues in a way that we can understand, search out various solutions and then articulate a rational argument for the best solution to the problem. The constant refrain of how offended a particular council person is by a statement of a citizen or a fellow council person does nothing to clarify the issue or advance the argument. It is purely an emotional argument. Claims to personal offense and ad hominem attacks have no place in public debate.

This might be considered a form of "over-sensitivity" training. If someone is intent on being offended, she is going to find a way to be offended. However, the City Council meetings are no place to air such offense. This behavior only serves to garner attention for the person claiming offense, and to stifle debate, because citizens who wish to participate in the debate are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Citizens of Billings, let's elect council-persons who are willing to control their personal feelings in order to present a rational debate for solutions that are good for Billings.

Terry Forke


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