Comments on civility in Bethany Beach election


At some ball games (think Orioles-Yankees or any Phillies game) you’ll hear some fan yelling insults at the opposing team or a player. The individual (it’s always a guy) probably thinks he’s clever, but really only embarrasses his friends and annoys the people around him. Alcohol is sometimes involved, although that’s not an excuse.

I thought about this at the Candidates Night at the Bethany Beach Town Hall the evening of Aug. 30. This event, conducted by the Coastal Point as a public service before an election of Town Council members, is normally a very informative event for voters, with a civil, good-natured exchange of views among the candidates in response to questions from the moderator and the audience.

It was a very worthwhile informative event this year, too, but there were moments of rudeness. One individual yelled out an insult at Council Member Joe Healy, who was running for reelection, that sounded like: “It’s time for you to go!”

Whoa! What happened to civility? This isn’t Camden Yards. Or national politics. Fortunately, Mr. Healy took the high road and did not respond as others might have. The unexpected jarring moment passed quickly before the individual could be reprimanded. However, such unacceptable behavior should not go unanswered.

When you think about it, we’re all neighbors who want what’s best for our community. We know there are going to be differences of opinion and disagreements on issues and how to achieve our common goals. But personal insults and rude behavior should never be part of our discussions and debates. My role model focuses on the issues and treats everyone with respect.

There’s another lesson here. Insults aren’t persuasive. It obviously wasn’t his intention, but I think the individual’s insulting behavior on Candidates Night reinforced support for Joe Healy. Bethany Beach voters who know Joe Healy and his record of service (as a volunteer!) voiced their approval resoundingly on Sept. 7, by reelecting him to another term on the Council. That’s justice!

Except for the saints among us, we’ve all said stupid or hurtful things we’ve regretted later. The best advice I think is to just admit being out-of-line and apologize. The individual I mentioned should recognize he was wrong and apologize to Joe Healy. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he does.

Jerry Hardiman

Bethany Beach