Commentary: A call for cooler heads in health care debate

It happens sometimes at sporting events. You come to watch the action on the field and end up gaping as a melee breaks out in the stands.

Unfortunately, that’s the scenario threatening to take over what should be a serious debate over how to reform the U.S. health care system.

Around the nation, loutish behavior has disrupted public appearances as members of Congress have come home on summer recess to find a fracas in the bleachers.

Protesters affiliated with anti-tax and limited-government groups mocked U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan last week at a St. Louis-area forum organized by the Democratic congressman. Outside the forum, jeering among activists on both sides of the issue escalated into shoving and led to several arrests.

Elected representatives have a duty to meet with constituents and discuss hot-button issues. They aren’t required to submit to heckling or to referee the verbal equivalent of a mud-wrestling exhibition. Politicians should put audiences on notice that civility is expected.

To read the complete editorial, visit kansascity.com.