My Turn

A fresh perspective: 'Where has common decency gone?'

Video by Cody Hooks

If you had attended the Governor's forum on Tuesday (April 18) hoping to hear Governor Martinez speak on her series of vetoes, our state budget, and the steps forward, we are sad to say you would have been disappointed. Instead, only inflammatory rhetoric filled the air. There was no talk of our tax code or revenues, only slurs such as "liar" and "disgrace." For our introduction into the realm of politics and government process, we were shocked by the egregious display of obstructionist behavior displayed by our community. When we had first arrived, the community greeted us enthusiastically saying, "it's great to see youth getting involved in government." We were excited to share our viewpoints and perspective on the issues as well as ask the governor about where the state is going. But instead, we were barred from doing exactly what the community encouraged us to do...get involved.

When we first heard about the governor's visit, the three of us were excited at the opportunity for different reasons. Despite our close friendship, we each vary in our political ideologies and exposure. We ventured to see the governor so that we may expose ourselves to government work and fulfill our civic duties of being concerned and informed citizens. As Governor Martinez began to speak on the events that occurred during the Regular Session, many of the other community members in attendance - who can be more accurately described as protesters - hijacked the forum, destroying any potential for constructive dialogue. That is not to say that there were not some attendees, who like ourselves, were genuinely interested in what the governor had to say. Their presence, however, was overshadowed by the blatant lack of common decency by the "Susana protestors." It was saddening and disheartening to see a community that prides itself as being accepting to all, viciously attack a fellow New Mexican. The three of us had many questions, relating to schools, higher education, and the tax code. However, due to petty obstructionist behavior, the event was shut down. This impacted the three of us in different ways, and we would like to take this opportunity to articulate to the community our perspectives:

(Roberto) I was excited to attend my first political event and had questions I was interested in asking the governor about lack of textbooks. When we first arrived, the environment was very welcoming. However, my first impressions were contradicted when hecklers began obstructing the event. I was unable to ask my questions because the event was cut short due to the display. I was shocked how the people of our community acted. It was a relief to see not everybody was disrespectful. Several people were respectful to the governor and had a decent conversation with her, even when they disagreed. I believe it is time to take a step back and look at ourselves. Instead of being unwilling to come together and work out differences, we should be able to treat each other like decent human beings and create a dialogue. After the event on Tuesday I have acquired new perspective on our community.

(Gilbert) For a student like myself, who is ignorant of politics and government issues, I was interested in making the trip. Unlike my friends, I have no real opinion on the governor and was interested in making one. Upon arrival, we discussed our viewpoints and planned our questions for the governor enthusiastically. But our enthusiasm was squandered by the uncivil discourse. For someone like myself, genuinely interested in forming an opinion of a controversial figure, I was let down. Instead of acquiring a new perspective on our governor, I acquired a new perspective on our community. And unfortunately, I was disappointed.

(James) I was born and raised here in Taos and have always been proud to be part of a community that is accepting to all. However, Tuesday's events only proved otherwise. It makes me ask the question, "what has happened to civil discourse, where has common decency gone?" Over the course of this last year, we have taken on a nihilist approach to our interactions with each other. We have lost all faith in the possibility of finding common ground that we are unwilling to even listen. We approach each other with the possibility of compromise out of sight. The governor, just like everyone one of us, has a set a beliefs and values. Values that she was elected by a majority of New Mexicans to carry out. Whether you support Governor Martinez or not, we owe her the common decency of listening.

James Valerio, Gilbert Valerio and Roberto Martinez are Taos High School students.


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John Slenes

The "hecklers" are 100% leftist liberal likely Democrats who offer nothing constructive to politics or society. They are similar to the rioters on campus when someone they disagree with shows up to speak. The town & county of Taos is generally run by very similar people who may claim to have the interests of the average Taoseno in mind but more likely are there to foist their narrow point of view upon the entire populace. Freedom & liberty are fleeting concepts to most politicians and voters. Treasure your critical thinking skills, ask a myriad of questions, study the US Constitution and our founding father's beliefs and research. Caution, politics will get in your blood (my interest started at about your age and it's still here, decades later!

Thursday, April 20, 2017 | Report this
Jill Cline

I agree with these young men. And, please. Keep participating!!!

While I don't agree with the Gov on virtually any of her policies, the way to common ground and conversation is not the way the people there handled themselves the other day. The group was mostly angry (yes, I understand why....) - but that does not justify being rude, belligerent, hateful, antagonistic, somewhat obnoxious ... and on and on. There was no format for asking questions. There was loud "talking back" and those who had their hands raised to be called on got bypassed on even being heard because of the group's behavior and yelling over others who were talking. Her aids turned her away and escorted her to the car ... she was standing there ready to take more & it was her staff who had enough and ended it.

Yes. We have to ask why people are so mad. I'm one of them. And, we need to expect real answers back --- not calculated responses that have no real substance. But blatant obnoxious rudeness does not help. Ever.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 | Report this
Joanne Myrup

Appreciate so much the thoughtful observations and comments of these excellent young men. It's unfortunate about what happened at the recent forum, described above, and in many other such events around our country recently... I do encourage the young people (and all of us!) to not give up on the adults in our very good community and in the world, as we all are likely to mess up and behave badly at times. There are many good people around and much reason to remain hopeful...

| Friday, April 21, 2017 | Report this
Tommy Lyles

Kudos to these young men for recognizing this behavior as childish, disrespectful and unproductive. I tried watching the video and was so embarrassed that I had to stop. While I'm no fan of the Governor, she did come to Taos and offer an opportunity for civil dialogue and Taos was unable to reciprocate or respect that.

Friday, April 21, 2017 | Report this