THE BLOG
08/13/2009 02:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The United States of Yelling

Why are we surprised that some Americans have been yelling at town hall meetings? I'm assuming they are Americans - from the looks of them, they could be illegal Scandinavians. Americans are yellers! Speaker Nancy Pelosi was crazy when she said, "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American." Has she ever been to a wrestling match or a school board meeting? Americans yell at everything from sporting events to traffic to reality shows to McDonald's drive-thru menus. When we want our kids to shut up, what do we do? We yell at them.

One thing is obvious. These vociferous, angry folks disrupting the town hall events are yelling out of fear. Regardless of the source of the fear, we should respect their feelings, whether they are frightened of the idea that affordable healthcare might trigger nuclear obliteration and socialism or they are merely frightened of a president with a weird name. Their earsplitting fear is real and it's a concern. But the yelling part is not new.

Yelling at the top of our lungs has been a part of our country's history. Paul Revere didn't knock on doors saying, "I don't mean to alarm you, but I think the British may be headed our way." Have you ever heard of a Town Whisperer? Of course not. There were Town Criers, baby. Americans have always yelled, because we're passionate about exercising our right of Freedom of Speech and because we like to drink a lot of beer.

Not everyone appreciates the tradition of yelling and aggressively disrupting a public event in a T-shirt. The Emily Post Institute lists "Tips for Parents," which includes the topic of interrupting. It says, "Teach your children not to interrupt. This is part of learning to respect other people's rights." But if Emily Post attended one of these recent town hall gatherings (and also was still alive), she would realize that it's okay to interrupt as long as you're LOUDER.

So, let's not overreact to a few roused voices who are practicing their patriotic right to be uneducated and obnoxious. Sure, it is troublesome that they are misled by "entertainers" like Glenn, Rush and Sean or that they are quietly funded by corporations who would continue to profit from a broken down healthcare system. Yet it's important to remember that we Americans are and have always been loud and proud. With all this yelling and borderline panic inflamed by fear, let's remember that great quote by President Franklin Roosevelt, who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." By the way, FDR also said, "Be sincere; be brief; be seated."