05/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Stand Up for Decency

[Updated with new Thursday Hardball video at bottom]

Maybe you've seen it on TV or in one of the dozens of blog postings. The YouTube videos have been viewed over 51,108 times, and the original video from the Columbus Dispatch thousands more.

But on Tuesday, several protesters outside my district office in Columbus went too far. A reporter from the Dispatch captured the moment on camera:

Debate over health care reform has consumed our political dialogue for over a year, and we all know how passionate both sides can be.

We need to stand up for decency in our politics -- we can't let the actions of the few poison our debate. Join the hundreds who have signed my petition, share it with your friends and send a message to those who would attack instead of engage.

This morning I made the following statement on the floor of the US House of Representatives:

"I believe that a great strength of our democracy is our First Amendment. It allows for the robust exchange of ideas and opinions. I welcome that. I want to hear what my constituents are thinking, what concerns they have -- concerns about how health care will work for them. I want to listen to them about their lack of health care and how that affects their lives or the high cost of health care and how they're coping with that.

"I have held town halls, round tables, small groups -- over twenty meetings in my district over health care. And this week demonstrations for and against health care reform were held in front of my district office.

"Unfortunately, some of those opposing health care reform went too far. Instead of making their arguments against the bill they engaged in abusive language directed at one of my constituents who suffers the terrible ravages of Parkinson's disease. They treated him like a beggar. They threw dollar bills at him. They did not respect his humanity. They did not respect his right to give his opinion on the health care bill."

This type of protest goes too far. It has crossed the line. The health care reform debate is about respecting each other's rights as human beings and -- when it comes to needed medical care - respecting our rights as citizens to express our opinions.

I ask that you stand with me for decency. Please sign my petition today, and continue the discussion with civility.

UPDATE (posted by staff): Hardball grills the president of Americans for Prosperity over the incident at the rally they promoted. See the NEW video: