Bringing an end to bullying - everywhere - Coeur d'Alene Press: My Turn

Bringing an end to bullying - everywhere

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:00 am

Editor's note: This is the speech Coeur d'Alene School District Trustee Tom Hamilton gave Thursday to the Kootenai County Republican Women. When he was done, Hamilton received a rare standing ovation.

Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. I was asked to address issues of interest related to the Coeur d'Alene School District and my role as a trustee. But before I begin with that, I'd like to ask that you indulge me for a bit as I share something that has been on my heart of late. In the end, I hope that it all ties together.

I recently finished reading a book called "The Intolerance of Tolerance" by D.A. Carson. In this book the author does a remarkable job of describing how tolerance has changed from the acceptance of the existence of different beliefs to a new tolerance which requires that we accept or even endorse beliefs different than our own. In other words, we have no right to say that our belief is any more "true" than the belief of any other and as such we have deteriorated as a society to a boggy mire of moral relativism. The new tolerance, Mr. Carson asserts, suggests that actually accepting another's position means believing that position to be true, or at least, as true as your own. We move from the free expression of contrary opinions, from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to an insistence that all beliefs and claims must be declared equally valid.

The problem that this creates, at least for me, is that this is not how our country was founded.

The Founding Fathers were passionate men, many gifted orators and writers who clung to their beliefs and moral principles as though their lives depended on them... and often they did. This did not mean, however, that they always agreed or that they each shared the same beliefs or values.

While Jefferson is often credited with writing the Declaration of Independence it was in fact written largely by a committee of five men and went through no less than 86 changes before the final version was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776. Jefferson did not get everything he wanted but by the sharing of ideas between these remarkable men, We the People were all gifted with perhaps the most poignant dissertation on individual liberty ever written.

The Federalists and Anti-Federalists were often at loggerheads when drafting the Constitution and debated with great passion such important issues as states' rights and the appropriate role of a central government. While the Federalists were more organized in their efforts and likely could have imposed their will, the passionate arguments and demands of the Anti-Federalists brought us such important things as the separation of powers and eventually the Bill of Rights. What would our country have been had those important articles not been included?

What is remarkable about the accomplishments of these men is that they clung to a view of tolerance that required three assumptions. First is that there is objective truth out there and that it is our moral duty to pursue that truth. Second, various parties in any given dispute both think that they know the truth even though they sharply disagree. Third, that we hold the best chance of uncovering objective truth by the unhindered exchange of ideas, no matter how wrong those ideas may appear. This third assumption DEMANDS that all sides insist that their opponents must not be silenced or crushed... that free inquiry must be encouraged in order to arrive at a truth that will convince most people that they were correct.

Boy, haven't we lost that today? Debate in the public square, even passionate, heated, angry debate is the FOUNDATION of this remarkable experiment we call the United States of America. And yet debate like this is no longer allowed. The role of the media has been reduced to stomping out opinions deemed intolerant and stifling the free exchange of ideas. Dare to speak an opinion that may not be viewed as correct and you will be faced with the label INTOLERANT, thereby marginalizing your belief as irrelevant. The public discussion of ideas is no longer about those ideas, but about the labels applied to those who hold them.

In his book "Why the Rest Hates the West," Meic Pearse describes it as follows:

"The currency of the term tolerance has recently become badly debased. Where it used to mean the respecting of real, hard differences it has come to mean instead a dogmatic abdication of truth-claims and a moralistic adherence to moral relativism - departure from which is stigmatized as intolerance... Where the old tolerance allowed hard differences on religion and morality to rub shoulders and compete freely in the public square, the new variety wishes to lock that all indoors as matters of private judgment; the public square must be given over to indistinctiveness."

Mr. Carson sums up the problem when he says that "the crises we face in domains as diverse as education, politics and law... spring from the decline of the old tolerance and triumph of the new. For the sad reality is that ethical neutrality, this new tolerance, is impossible but as long as it is pursued it cripples policy choices and abolishes principled choices because it has banished the framework of truth and morality upon which true tolerance depends."

What does this have to do with the Coeur d'Alene School District? What does this have to do with my role as a Trustee?

Last year (prior to the election) our Board decided that it was time our district dealt with bullies. Our school culture has become one that does not feel safe to many kids, where survival and not learning is the focus. I have heard it described that one cannot learn if they spend the first half of a class in pain because of what was said or done to them on the way to class and then spend the second half of class in fear of what is to come when they once again have to venture into the hallway. Sadly, this is the reality of our schools for too many of our students leading many to drop out and worse, some to see no way out but to take their own life.

The Anti-Bullying Task Force was formed, drawing community members, district staff and trustees together for hard discussions and hard work. Policy was written and re-written, programs such as Stand Up/Speak Up were instituted and curriculum was identified and purchased to help our kids recognize and deal with bullying.

Through the process I think many of us realized that while what we were doing was necessary and good work, it in many ways represented what had already been done with arguably little success. Write policy, try to enforce it, hold people accountable and hope to God that things change. We aren't the only district to face these challenges and we aren't the only district to wonder why we fail more often than we succeed in this endeavor.

Out of the Anti-Bully Task Force the decision was made to invite a man named Steven Wessler to come and work with our schools. An internationally recognized expert on the subject, Mr. Wessler is a man who spent the first part of his career in the law as a prosecutor. His focus was on human rights and punishing those who broke the law in violation of those human rights. By his own admission, he came to the conclusion that he was dealing with the wrong end of the problem. Punishment is necessary but by the time you came to that stage, the damage was already done and could not be undone.

He soon left the law and devoted his time and talent to prevention rather than prosecution. Mr. Wessler visited our schools in the fall of last year and found that we are not different in many ways from what he sees other places; that bullying and harassment exists in our schools and that we have a culture that allows that to continue.

Knowing Mr. Wessler's background and focus, I will admit that I was a skeptic. I assumed that he would come in speaking of human rights and tolerance, boiling our problem down to intolerant kids with intolerant parents.

However, he addressed our Board Monday night and he moved me. I doubt there is much that Steve and I would agree on politically, religiously or maybe philosophically. I don't know that for certain because Steve refuses to address it. It simply doesn't matter.

What is remarkable to me about what he said is that our bullying problem is not about beliefs but about behavior. He said that we don't have to agree on things where we can't find agreement, but we do have to learn to treat each other with dignity and respect. Sounds a lot like the "old" tolerance to me.

That is when it struck me. Dignity and respect is what is missing from our conversation. I see it every day in our community. We all see it most certainly in our nation. Sadly, I have to admit that I can see it more often than I should when I look in the mirror. We have modeled this for our children in our public lives and we wonder why they have not learned to treat each other with dignity and respect. We have created bullies because in some ways, we have become bullies.

Mr. Wessler's approach is unique, but I can see the merit and am quite intrigued to see it implemented. Steve says that discipline is important and that clear boundaries must be drawn and enforced. He also says, however, that punitive measures alone will never solve the problem. We have a cultural issue in our schools and the only ones that are going to change that culture are its members.

Mr. Wessler is currently working with Respect Teams of both students and teachers in our schools who will be equipped not only to recognize and address bullying but to train others how to do it as well. We will solve the bullying issue in our schools when our kids say "ENOUGH! We aren't going to do this anymore."

That movement seems already to have begun.

Mr. Wessler has said to us that one thing he found in our schools that is missing so many other places is empathy. Our students truly see the harm and pain that bullying causes and I have faith and hope that this empathy, coupled with guidance, training and encouragement from staff truly could change the culture of our schools.

I am asked quite often what it has been like serving with these new Board members. The answer surprises even me. It's good. Much better than I expected.

Dave Eubanks said during his campaign that he would strive to "build consensus!" He said it with passion and conviction and I remember muttering under my breath "bullpucky!" Every politician says that during election time and it is quickly forgotten once the votes are tallied. But I've got to tell you, Dave meant it and he's good at it. A man I had determined I wasn't going to like and one whom I was certain I wouldn't be able to work with has quickly become a man I respect and now call "friend."

Our Board has also this year undertaken a Strategic Planning Initiative to define the mission, vision and goals of the Coeur d'Alene School District. Our Board is comprised of five people with diverse opinions, political views and perhaps even moral convictions. We are a group of five people that I think many suspected would not be able to work together. I suspect that some even hoped that our differences would turn to bitter fighting since that seems to be the stuff that sells newspapers and online advertising these days.

However, if we focused on where we were different we would lose the opportunity to understand where we are the same. We all want the absolute best for our kids. We want the best teachers. We want to give our students what they need to succeed, the ability to live out their own version of the American Dream.

Mr. Eubanks said very early in the process that we had a great opportunity in front of us. He knew we weren't going to always agree. He knew there were times we would be passionate in our debate. He also understands very well the divided nature of our community and that we are no longer defined by our beliefs but by our behaviors. We have become a community of bullies.

Knowing all of that, he also was going to demand that we work until we reached consensus. He posed it as a challenge and a question: "What would it say to our community if this Board modeled how we all should behave?"

What he meant was, it's going to be OK to disagree, it's going to be OK to argue, but we ARE going to listen to each other, we ARE going to allow the free exchange of ideas, and most importantly, we ARE going to treat each other with dignity and respect and reach a decision with which we all can live.

The Strategic Planning effort has involved focus groups of students, teachers and district staff where ideas have been freely shared, discussed and sometimes passionately debated. We have now developed a draft Mission Statement which we will soon be bringing to the community at large to gather your input as well. It is our hope that this public discussion will be framed by the free exchange of ideas, by impassioned debate where it is appropriate but that we hold these debates in a public square whose foundation is one of ensuring all participants the dignity and respect they deserve.

I know that to many my words may sound weak. The perception could be that I've decided to "go along to get along." So many of us think we have to fight until we win, that truth is on our side, not seeing that in the fighting we have lost our voice. We know we are right and as such we vociferously shout down any opposition to our opinion, in our arrogance not realizing that no one is listening. All they see is our anger... the label we have allowed to be pasted to our forehead. We are no longer heard and the free exchange of ideas and debate in the public square that founded our great nation has evaporated. I want to play my part in bringing that back.

Consensus does not need to mean capitulation. I do not have to compromise my morals, values or beliefs in order to achieve what I believe is necessary. But I would like to be defined by my beliefs and not by a label or worse, by my behavior. In that context, my beliefs are given the validity that they deserve.

Yes, I know that this is not how the other side behaves. For every time a good conservative holds their tongue they can find five angry liberals wagging theirs. But I've come to the realization that I have to take the advice which I always give to my kids. I cannot change how others act, I can only change how it is that I react. It's been a tough journey and I know that I haven't fully arrived.

Leslie (Damiano), I do realize that this is perhaps not what you expected me to cover and I do apologize for my pontification. With that, I'll freely admit that I have addressed what is of interest to me and open it up to those things which interest you...

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  • TomHamilton posted at 8:27 am on Mon, Feb 10, 2014.

    TomHamilton Posts: 72

    Thank you, Mr. Swallow. It is my hope that we all get back to a civil discourse, based on ideas, not labels as well.

  • john swallow posted at 9:16 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    john swallow Posts: 8

    Mr. Hamilton – Good speech.

    Just as economists are great at predicting recessions with the benefit of hindsight, I sincerely hope that we will look back at this as a time when the approach to politics in our community unofficially turned the corner….

    John Swallow

  • slave posted at 3:48 pm on Sat, Feb 8, 2014.

    slave Posts: 463

    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 2:12

    Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; -Hebrews 12:28

  • LibrulLizard posted at 9:12 am on Sat, Feb 8, 2014.

    LibrulLizard Posts: 107

    Really, a Nazi analogy? Isn't that a bit over the top? After reading Mahiun post below it sounds more like a better analogy would be "Do you agree with Mike Huckabee that women are sexual animals that can't control their libido". Questions hurled out of context deserve to be ignored. think about it.

  • Fly in the ointment posted at 11:59 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Fly in the ointment Posts: 606

    Demonstrative behavior...

    Pride. Prejudice. Jealousy. Love. Lust. Hate. Sadness. Coercion. Ambition. Derision. Secrecy. Proselytizing. Privilege. Neglect. Exclusion. Violence. Procrastination. Justification. Humiliation. Lies. Faith. Neutrality. Inclusion. Resentment. Piousness. Depression. Quitting. Ignorance. Progress. Success. Denial.



    I was taught, and passed on to my kids, it's what you make of yourself, not what society makes of you.

  • Curt Slade posted at 9:46 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Curt Slade Posts: 57

    Hey Shirley, I remember the "knuckle dragging morons" comment. You must be a Hayden Meadows parent! It was in fact Mr. Hamilton's wife who used those words in reference to the fact that all you PYP fanatics were insistant that without PYP, the children would all be a bunch of backwards, ignorant bigots. The truth she discovered was that Dalton Gardens Elementary (a non-PYP school) is a terrific school filled with intelligent and respectful kids and no amount of UN sanctioned programming was necessary to achieve that result. You need context if you're going to spew bilge, dear.

  • Mahiun posted at 7:49 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Mahiun Posts: 5644

    Yes, he did --- as part of a larger satirical piece about the obnoxiously false piety of Sarah Palin and people like her. But, too many people in these parts wouldn't know satire if it sat(ires) in their laps....

    But you can find the piece, in its entirety, here:

    He also said that a political candidate who caused Senator Bob Casey to lose his re-election bid should be "dragged behind a pickup truck until there's nothing left but the rope."
    Yes, he did. Of course, the part you left out was the part where Savage said, immediately after this interview, "I regret using that truck metaphor, and didn't mean it literally, and it was in poor taste, and I regret it." I'm sure that last part must have just......slipped your mind. Right?

    But personally, I think calling Christian children "pansy a**ed" and mocking them to their faces at an anti-bullying convention is pretty much the most horrible thing I've ever heard.
    Except that's not quite how it happened.... These were not kindergartners, they were high school age and above. Savage's original comment, made during a speech, was, "We can learn to ignore the b.s. (except he used the entire word) in the Bible about gay people." Some students were apparently shocked --- shocked, i tell you! --- that anyone would dare to call the Bible b.s., and complained to event organizers. So no, no "mocking to their faces". He wasn't talking about them, to them. He was talking about a book. A book that wasn't even relevant to every student there, only to some of them who somehow felt that he necessarily owed this book the same sense of devotion that they, themselves, felt toward it.

    Savage's response was, however, characteristically blunt: "“It’s funny to me, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-*ssed some people react when you push back.” And, as someone who has also been on the receiving end of Bible-based bashing......he's right!

    Dan Savage is also paid to be a provocateur, to be a rabble-raiser, to stir the pot and cause people to get uncomfortable enough to talk. That's his job. Much like Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, on the other end of the spectrum. He's also not especially personally likable, in my opinion --- I've met him, and we did not hit it off, to put it mildly. So it would be foolish to take Mr. Savage's "Savage Love" pronouncements with anything less than a very large grain of salt. You're not that kind of fool, are you?

    But there are also times when Mr. Savage is capable of great eloquence and great seriousness in addressing the issues he takes on, and he is quite capable of making very good points in very good ways. Listen to all the man has to say before you condemn all the man has to say based only on some of what the man has had to say.

    Would anyone dar to rationally argue that Mr. Wessler spends as many hours with evangelical groups as he does with LGBT organizations?
    Why does this matter? And why would you think that LGBT organizations and religious organizations are mutually exclusive? I am planning on attending the installation of one gay friend who was recently selected as the lead minister at a church, and the ordination of another gay friend who has worked and studied for quite some time to become an amazing Lutheran minister. I'm proud of both of them, I've seen both of them conduct services, and I know that they serve their flocks very well; "gay" and "Christian" are by no means mutually exclusive.

    Finally, as others have asked, exactly how does this relate to problems of bullying within SD 271?

  • searcher posted at 6:49 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    searcher Posts: 365

    Give the guy a break. Living in the past does not move us forward. Holding a grudge is not productive and does not undo past actions. Take the olive branch and practice empathy, understanding and strive for consensus.

  • Shirley Jones posted at 6:31 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Shirley Jones Posts: 191

    Easy to be on one's nice behavior once you demoralized a whole school, dismiss the IB program despite parent objections, find yourself in the minority, and facing the future election process... I can't help but recall famous phrases from him and his: Knuckle dragging morons, radical islamic influence, and then there is the gay thing... he has a lot to show before proving his words. Tolerant, hahahahhahahahahhaa!

  • slave posted at 6:25 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    slave Posts: 463

    And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:1-10

  • parent posted at 6:00 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    parent Posts: 347

    Great article Mr. Hamilton. I know it’s hard for those who do not like you to say nice things but I have no problem complementing you. Now, can we all try to be on our best behavior? Be an example to youngsters by action. It starts with the adults.

  • IdahoLOVE posted at 5:48 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    IdahoLOVE Posts: 84

    LibrulLizard -- I don't completely disagree with what you say. Of course, there are "outliers" in every group. The problem is that conservatives aren't PREACHING tolerance. When you preach a message of tolerance, you better be sure to apply that message equally. I mentioned Dan Savage because he is merely a representation of those who preach "tolerance" but clearly have a very different agenda.

    More importantly, you said that Mr. Wessler should not have to "answer for Dan Savage." Please re-read what I wrote. I said that Mr. Wessler was asked a question which he refused to answer. If you were to ask me, "Do you agree with the Nazi extermination of Jews" ... do you not think it would raise eyebrows if I responded with: "I'm not going to discuss the Nazis." Seriously, this is common sense. The man did not answer a simple question that was not only fair, but also relevant as Mr. Savage is a leader in the anti-bullying movement. If Mr. Wessler disagrees with Mr. Savage then he can say so. His refusal to answer causes one to make an inference.

  • Shirley Jones posted at 5:10 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Shirley Jones Posts: 191

    politically posturing, period.

  • LibrulLizard posted at 4:55 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    LibrulLizard Posts: 107

    @Idaho LOVE - Step back and take a breath for a minute. Now read what you have written and think about it for a minute. You are inflaming without provocation. Dan Savage and Floyd Lee Corkins have nothing to do with Coeur d'Alene, the school board, Tom Hamilton, Mike Teague or anyone else in this community. Corkins was a sick person who committed a sick act of violence (BTW - he was NOT an employee of the Southern Poverty Law Center, but that is irrelevant). Dan Savage is an activist with a cause. Do you think there are none of those who are conservatives who spew offensive and hyperbolic rhetoric? If you need help isolating them, let me know... I can give you a list of a few. But that is irrelevant also. You are using inflammatory framing and priming to perpetrate a fallacy: These people act irresponsibly (and in the case of Corkins, criminally and despicably), therefore everyone who disagrees with the Family Research Council, or dislikes Sarah Palin is also despicable and criminally irresponsible. I can't speak to Dan Savage or what he says and does because I have no idea who he is. Because I believe that it is horrible for anyone to feel bullied to the point of dropping out of school or taking their own life and (I assume) Dan Savage also believes that, it does not make me like him. Don't blame everyone who is more liberal than you for terrible things that are said and done by liberal extremists. I don't blame all Republicans or conservatives for the words and actions of a few conservative extremists. Why should Mr. Wessler have to answer for Dan Savage? Why should you have to answer for the words and actions of the Westboro Baptist Church (unless of course you openly and adamantly defend them and identify with their tactics), or anti-choice activists who have murdered doctors and nurses in women's health clinics. Do you see the damage this causes? Can you step outside of your mistrust of anyone and anything that is associated with the word "liberal" or "democrat" or "progressive" long enough to accept that there is a continuum of ideology, attitude, belief and, as Tom Hamilton put it... behavior. I was quite impressed with Mr. Hamilton's speech, though I admit that it did hurt when he threw in the jab about all of the left-wing tongues wagging. He is right, none of us can change the behavior of others, but we can change our own behavior. If Mr. Eubanks behavior helped Mr. Hamilton to see himself differently, then maybe those left-wing wagging tongues will see themselves differently by seeing the change in Mr. Hamilton. Try it IdahoLOVE, it may be contagious!

  • Blakecarson40 posted at 4:44 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Blakecarson40 Posts: 355

    "One of the things that make our country great is diversity in ideas and beliefs"

    Mike, if you truly believed that you wouldn't be on this comment thread daily dismissing anyone who thinks differently than you as an "idiot" and vilifying them in some way.

  • IdahoLOVE posted at 12:45 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    IdahoLOVE Posts: 84

    "just wonderin" .. yes. Dan Savage was the one that wants Sarah Palin to "f-ing" choke on a cinnamon bun. Same guy. He also said that a political candidate who caused Senator Bob Casey to lose his re-election bid should be "dragged behind a pickup truck until there's nothing left but the rope." And that he wished the Republicans were all "f-ing dead." But personally, I think calling Christian children "pansy a**ed" and mocking them to their faces at an anti-bullying convention is pretty much the most horrible thing I've ever heard.

    Dan Savage has worked with the Obama administration on an "anti-bullying" campaign ... but it's probably better labeled an "anti-Christian campaign." Obama backed the "It get's better project" headed up by Savage. So I think it's a fair question that Tom Hamilton should answer.

    Tom Hamilton: Why do you suppose Mr. Wessler refused to decry Dan Savage's so--called "anti-bullying" tactics when asked about it specifically at the Kroc Center? Can you at least admit that it's possible that sometimes, a person with an agenda will provide lip service generalities if it serves their broader agenda of one-sidedness? Would anyone dar to rationally argue that Mr. Wessler spends as many hours with evangelical groups as he does with LGBT organizations? Please Mr. Hamilton... tell us why this man of tolerance refused to answer a simple question about Dan Savage?

  • just wonderin' posted at 12:09 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    just wonderin' Posts: 18

    Is Dan Savage the same guy who wrote that Sarah Palin should *f-ing* choke on a cinnamon bun?

  • Why Not posted at 12:08 pm on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Why Not Posts: 5326

    I'm really glad Tom has come to understand the wisdom of Mr Eubanks. During the election I was wondering if the challenger and friends had mistaken him for Attila and many kids (grownups now) who know him also were dismayed the attacks. As for the last paragraph, Tom spoiled an otherwise excellent speech. Unfortunately his apology below does little to assure me that he still loves those labels.

  • IdahoLOVE posted at 11:57 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    IdahoLOVE Posts: 84

    "just wondering" -- You make a good point, but I would call it more an issue of agenda-based propaganda than simple bullying.

  • IdahoLOVE posted at 11:26 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    IdahoLOVE Posts: 84

    Mr. Hamilton's points about "The Intolerance of Tolerance" are well put. Namely, some of the most intolerant people in this country are the people, ironically, who claim to be the most tolerant. Surely this was best exemplified when a Southern Poverty Law Center worker took a gun into the Family Research Council (a pro-traditional marriage think-tank) and tried to shoot everyone there---managing to blow a hole through a security guard--and intending to stuff Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in their mouths after he was finished. (the man was found with a backpack full of the sandwiches). Tolerance? Really?

    I think where Mr. Hamilton is misled is that he trusts some people like Mr. Wessler to somehow be different. If Mr. Wessler is different, then why, when he was asked about anti-bullying guru Dan Savage's attacks on Christians--calling them "pansy a**ed", did Mr. Wessler defer from answering the question? Wouldn't Mr. Wessler admit that Dan Savage is a disgrace to the anti-bullying movement if Mr. Wessler actually believed in equal treatment of all people? And on that note: Why did the Coeur d'Alene Press neglect to publish the fact that Mr. Wessler refused to answer a question about Dan Savage attacking Christians?

  • TomHamilton posted at 11:13 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    TomHamilton Posts: 72

    Thank you, Mike. I look forward to the change in tone of our conversation.

  • IdahoLOVE posted at 11:13 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    IdahoLOVE Posts: 84

    "my first thought was, well not pleasant in the least" AND Carson's book was "plain poppycock." What saddens me Mr. Teague is that you can't even see how completely nonsensical your comments are. How can you make such statements and then say, "he is not the closed minded idiot I assumed he was, that he in fact is able to set aside differences."

    How can you make a claim like this while not showing yourself to be "closed minded?" Essentially, you are making the point that people are closed minded unless they agree with you. I'm not sure what education you have -- but I would hope that you are bright enough to realize your own contradiction.

  • Miketeague posted at 10:32 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Miketeague Posts: 2631

    When Mr. Hamilton started his speech talking about D. A. Carson (a Reformed Evangelical Theologian) my first thought was, well not pleasant in the least. In my opinion Carson’s missive on “New Tolerance”
    is plain poppycock. For reasons I’m not sure of I continued to read and I’m glad I did. Mr. Hamilton’s speech showed me that he is not the closed minded idiot I assumed he was, that he in fact is able to not just set differences aside but to use them and work to a common good, a lesson a lot of us should learn.
    One of the things that make our country great is diversity in ideas and beliefs, the ability to throw all the ideas into a blender and come up with something that works for the MAJORITY (nothing works for everyone).
    As far as bullying, this is something that is through out our society but most harmful in our schools. Bullying simply put, is a misuse of and a grab for power over someone else. I’ve seen bullies from horrible homes and I’ve seen bullies from pillars of the community homes and religious leader homes, the one commonality I have seen in bullies is that they won’t stop until someone stops them and as long as people have the attitude of boys will be boys, or girls will be girls, and I survived so it’s no big deal, bullying will not only continue, it will grow.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 10:18 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    Only a week or so ago Tom Hamilton was name calling someone on his Facebook page. That is bully behavior. I think he may have learned something and i give him kudos on this speech and his admission he could have left it less political. I believe people can change for the better. Nice speech Tom.

  • Mahiun posted at 9:52 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    Mahiun Posts: 5644

    I will cut Mr. Hamilton a bit of slack for the whole "conservatives are invariably well-behaved in the face of blabbermouth liberals" shtick, considering that he was, in fact, addressing an audience of (presumably) conservatives.

    Nevertheless, is this not exactly the sort of "us vs. them" mentality that he just spent 20 minutes decrying as the source of conflict, intolerance, and bullying?! Did he not then just undermine, or even negate, the entire message and case he was presumably trying to build?! It just seems like a very "shooting yourself in the foot" moment....

  • TomHamilton posted at 9:27 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    TomHamilton Posts: 72

    My intent was to convey that we (I) cannot use the behavior of others to condone our (my) own poor behavior. I do realize (now) that by attaching labels to the point, the message wasn't properly conveyed. My apologies for that...

  • just wonderin' posted at 9:13 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    just wonderin' Posts: 18

    Funny to see the Press embrace this letter since they were such bullies in the last elections.

  • dtsinidaho posted at 7:43 am on Fri, Feb 7, 2014.

    dtsinidaho Posts: 251

    I was enjoying the letter, until "For every time a good conservative holds their tongue they can find five angry liberals wagging theirs. "

    There is the great Hamiltoni slipping back into HIS bullying ways. Does he NOT get it?

    When he throws out combative (and ridiculous) statements, it just invalidates EVERYTHING he has written, or had written for him. Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

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