I heard a story the other day that troubles me. Actually, it is more the reaction the story provoked that I find troubling. It says something about our tendency towards a "mobocracy."
The story was told to a group of civic leaders. It was about an issue before an elected body here in Delaware. The teller had been advocating an unpopular position to that elected body in a room filled with a raucous crowd in opposition. He reported that there was one person there who he knew agreed with him, but that person was afraid to speak up because of the vocal crowd.
He finished the story and the group all laughed. Open discourse on a public issue was stifled by fear of a mob and we found that funny.
It reminded me of some of the stories that have come out of the Indian River School District religion lawsuit. Families wanting to speak on an issue to the school board that is supposed to represent them were afraid of an angry mob.
It also brings to mind the very strong reaction that many folks had a few days back to what appears now to have been a doubtful report of anti-Islam/anti-Obama statements by an elementary school teacher. When folks thought that report was accurate, there were calls for direct, and rather stern, action against a school teacher. Subsequent reports that call the original into question got much less attention.
Are we a mob, ruled by our passions? That is not who we are meant to be. Yet recent events suggest that we may be on our way to becoming that mob.
I hope not. At the very least, I don't think it is funny.