The Norman Transcript


March 31, 2013

State public health committee not open to civil discourse



An audible gasp was heard from people in attendance. Surely, I thought, Rep. Shannon will speak to Ritze about the importance of maintaining civil discourse and avoiding name-calling, widely considered to be counterproductive to effective communication.

I understand that a majority of the legislators that I talk to do not agree with me, but I have never encountered anyone who behaved as self-righteously as Rep. Ritze behaved with me.

The holier-than-thou reception I received was a shock to me. I understand and respect the opinion of those who believe differently than I do. I expect the same treatment in return.

I am a non-threatening grandmother of two and a lifelong Oklahoman who just celebrated my 46th wedding anniversary. I have never felt any intimidation about going to the Capitol until this year. I tried to see you about my experience, but our assistant was unable to make an appointment for me.

Your press secretary took my name with contact information, but I have had no reply to my concerns, and for this reason, I am writing this letter.

What am I left to conclude about exercising my First Amendment rights at the Oklahoma Capitol? I have to think that a visit to the Capitol is an exercise in futility at best, a potential verbal assault at worst.

What should I expect the next time a bill comes before the public health committee that I want to discuss? Should I not go? Should I bring my brother along as a body guard in case the hostility toward those with my opinion should escalate?

I am certain that had I spoke to Rep. Mike Ritze in the manner he spoke to me, I would have been escorted out of the building.

I am very disappointed in the legislature and its disregard for a voter peacefully exercising her duties as a citizen.

Judy Drury


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