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I am troubled that [Republican South Carolina] Sen. Joe Wilson, an Army veteran, is openly fundraising on his tantrum moment during President Barack Obama’s speech (“Lawmakers denounce S.C. rep’s ‘lie’ outburst,” article, Sept. 11). People are seriously sending this guy money for bringing down the dignity of the Congress and of the state that elected him.

This is not a rowdy citizen or TV personality “speaking truth to power.” Wilson was elected and is paid — handsomely, by the way — to represent his state. Was that moment true to how [South Carolinians] are? Is that who they are? I seriously doubt it. Please, never ask Wilson to represent me in front of a foreign dignitary.

If even our president can expect rude treatment by officials of our most dignified institutions, how can we ever expect our citizens to behave with civility when they gather to discuss important issues with their elected officials? If this summer is to be the paradigm for how American democracy conducts itself, we should expect broad dismissal from civilized nations everywhere. Would anyone blame them for openly scorning a society whose elected officials cannot contain themselves at important events?

His apology to Obama was appropriate, but really, his sincere apology should go to his state and to the American people through a formal apology to the institution he disrespected. He violated House rules. He violated an unspoken principle of the American people to treat our democratically elected president with respect.

The House was right to hold this man accountable, if only to affirm that there is such a thing as distinguished conduct in our society, and that Joe Wilson did not represent it at that moment.

Fran SimmonsKatterbach, Germany


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