Political Civility

Gun Rights

VOA – CONNECT
EPISODE # 250
AIR DATE: 10 28 2022
TRANSCRIPT

OPEN ((VO/NAT/MUSIC))
((Banner))
Moderating the Discussion
((SOT))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

We’re trying to get to a situation where everybody, with all points of view on any particular subject, can feel like they have a place to say what they believe.
((Animation Transition))
((Banner))

Talk About Guns
((SOT))
((
Angela Stroud
Professor, Northland College))

There’s this really simplistic way of thinking about guns often which is, people are anti-gun or they’re pro-gun. We like to imagine that this is a simple phenomenon in the culture that just isn’t true.
((Banner))
Agree to Disagree
((SOT))
((
John Hunter
Inventor))

We made America great again. She happens to disagree with me totally on everything, except for one thing.
((Open Animation))

BLOCK A

((PKG)) BRAVER ANGELS
((TRT: 06:27))
((Topic Banner: Braver Angels))
((Producer/Video Editor:
Lisa Vohra))
((Camera:
Philip Alexiou))
((Map:
Washington, DC))
((Main characters: 0 female; 1 male))
((Sub characters: 3 female; 12 male))

((Blurb:
We look at grassroots led organization trying to help people talk across their political differences and put civility back into U.S. politics.))
((NATS/Music/SOT))
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
There’s a yearning in the society to remember who we are and what we can be together. Civility is not simply good manners appropriate to the circumstance. Civility is also the inward desire to do good to your opponent.
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

Braver Angels is the nation’s largest, fully Red/Blue [conservative/liberal], grassroots-led citizens organization committed to helping Americans across the political spectrum find the value in each other and manage their political divides amongst themselves
((Ciaran O’Connor
Chief Marketing Officer))
((John Wood, Jr.
Director of Media Development))

in ways that are productive and not destructive and have their politics but still be able to maintain their relationships with their fellow citizens.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Voice of Ciaran O’Connor
Chief Marketing Officer))

I was a vice chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County. I was a Republican nominee for Congress before that.
((Voice of John Wood, Jr.
Director of Media Development))

And I worked for the Obama campaign, I worked for the Hillary campaign.
((Ciaran O’Connor
Chief Marketing Officer))
((John Wood, Jr.
Director of Media Development))

Now we’re here before you today, Depolarizing America.
((NATS/Music))
((Courtesy: Reuters))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

The 2016 Election was kind of the catalyst.
Honestly, we could have probably set up Braver Angels at many other times in the last 25 years, and it would have been just as important and just as useful as it has been in the last six years.
((Courtesy: Reuters))
But all that being said, the unique kind of down to the person and impermeable kind of cultural division that the 2016 election did not create but certainly did
((Courtesy: AFP))
reveal to a lot of people.
((NAT/SOT))
God bless our president, Donald Trump.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels/Reuniting America))
((YouTube Logo))
((Jean McVey
Republican))

The day after the election, I called my friend and no return call.
((Angela Brown
Democrat))

I want to understand how a country that voted for Obama twice went so far to the other side. I want to understand…
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

In the last weeks of 2016 and the first weeks of 2017, Bill Doherty and David Lapp and David Blankenhorn, our founders, cobbled together
((Courtesy: Braver Angels/Reuniting America
((YouTube Logo))
((NAT/SOT: Red Group Meeting Room))

about a dozen Reds and a dozen Blues, a dozen people who’d voted for Trump,
((NAT/SOT: Blue Group Meeting Room))
and a dozen people who voted for Clinton
and brought them together in the small town of Waynesville, Ohio,
((Courtesy: Braver Angels/Reuniting America
((YouTube Logo))
to hold a workshop on their thoughts and feelings and opinions about what had just happened.
((Keith Johnson
Republican))

Most of us are not racist. This is an unfair accusation.
((Jorge Vila
Democrat))

There are a lot of Blue folks, liberals who are very hard workers and who make a lot of very strong contributions to society.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels/Reuniting America))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

Civil discourse work, what some people call bridge building work or bipartisan work.
The need for it is not so much a question of finding solutions as it is attaining a way of just being able to live in a complex and polarized system.
((NATS/Music))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

All over the United States of America, there are local Braver Angels chapters, Braver Angels alliances, activists and volunteers and a few staff, doing work with institutions, doing work with citizens around the country. At all levels of leadership, Braver Angels has to have
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))

equal Red, Blue representation, and we stick to that very, very, deeply. Aside from that, we’re working on bringing young people in more closely. We’re working on bringing working people a.k.a. [also known as] people without college degrees is the way we normally frame that.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Zoom Logo))

We’re working on bringing people of color in more closely.
((Participant))
If you’ve never been to the inner cities, you’ve never helped a Black child, you’re a hypocrite and you have no business out there protesting, if you’ve never helped anyone at all in our communities. And people like me are really
((Debate Chair))
All right, I’m going to ask you to wrap up, unmute and…
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

The Braver Angels debate is a very safe space because we’re not trying to get anybody voted as the winner or voted as a loser.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Zoom Logo))
((Participant))

It seems like we think that all racial disparities are due to racism. I’m not so sure about that. That might be the case.
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

We’re not trying to get to any particular resolution of the problems.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Zoom Logo))

We’re not trying to vote on a way to solve those problems. We’re trying to get to a situation where everybody, with all points of view on any particular subject, can feel like they have a place to say what they believe, and more importantly, can feel where they have a place to be seen saying what they believe and understood by people who don’t agree with them, who won’t agree with them but who have everything to learn from them and who they have everything to learn from, too.
((NATS/SOTs))
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Zoom Logo))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Debate Chair))

Resolved, ‘Guns Keep People Safe.’ I’m looking for a speech in the affirmative.
((Participant))
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It’s a complex topic. So, I wrote down my thoughts.
((Participant))
Everybody deserves the right to have a gun. No, that’s not true.
((Participant))
Taking guns away from law-abiding citizens is not the way…
((Participant))
I have eleven nieces and nephews and they are never growing up in a world where someone isn’t often and randomly getting shot at…
((Participant))
The assault weapons thing, that’s a made up term, made up by gun control activists to scare people.
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Debate Chair))

And with that, the speaker is thanked. Thank you very much Madam speaker for closing us out.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((John Wood, Jr.
Podcast Host, Braver Angels))

You’re watching the Braver Angels podcast.
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

The Braver Angels podcast and Braver Angels media has been one of our longest running, most successful, I guess you might call it public diplomacy projects that does interviews with a variety of different kinds of people.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((John Wood, Jr.
Podcast Host, Braver Angels))

If there’s not always a ready compromise sort of available place to meet in the middle that leaves both sides feeling satisfied, does it mean that the work that we are doing is incapable of bearing any fruit?
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Guest))

The notion that we have to be ends-based, is, I think, part of the problem.
((John Wood, Jr.
Podcast Host, Braver Angels))
Yeah.
((Guest))
We’re in a society right now where the immediate question…
((SOT, Podcast))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

Moderation of certain things in your habits definitely is part of what depolarization is all about.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Luke Nathan Phillips
Director of D.C. Project, Braver Angels))

Moderation in your opinions, moderation in your principles, moderation in your convictions is not what depolarization is about.
And it’s possible to be an extremist in all kinds of different sects across the American political spectrum, in every party and every ideological grouping, and still be able to look at your fellow Americans, who might have completely different conceptions of politics than you do,
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Zoom))

and still be able to treat them like your fellow American citizen and help them find value in each other.
((Courtesy: Braver Angels))
((YouTube Logo))
((Ciaran O’Connor
Podcast Host, Braver Angels))

We want folks, from the far left to the far right, to feel that they can come to Braver Angels and express themselves freely and fully.
((NATS/Music))

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TEASE ((VO/NAT/SOT))
Coming up
((Banner))
Issues that Divide
((SOT))
((David P. Corrigan
County Attorney in Transgender Bathroom Case))

We are here this evening to receive public comment on a possible proposed alternative restroom resolution.

BREAK ONE
BUMP IN ((ANIM))

BLOCK B

((PKG)) LGBTQ RIGHTS – TRANSGENDER DEBATE
((Previously aired April 2019))
((TRT: 05:30))
((Banner:
Transgender Rights))
((Reporter/Camera:
Deepak Dobhal))
((Map:
Gloucester, Virginia))
((Main characters: 5 female; 4 male))
((NATS))
((Text on screen:
The rights of transgender people are being hotly debated in communities across the United States))
((NATS))
[I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,] and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
((David P. Corrigan
County Attorney in Transgender Bathroom Case))

We are here this evening to receive public comment on a possible proposed alternative restroom resolution. With respect to individuals with gender identity, if their gender identity is not consistent with their physiological sex of birth, the proposed resolution would allow those students to use a restroom consistent with their new gender identity as long as they meet three criteria.
((Jennifer Wiffen
Local Resident))

Gloucester County is a very conservative county, very right-wing because it’s a very traditional, like [fictionalized town of] Mayberry, very simple, Christianity being pushed as values, very private community, and they pride themselves in being fishermen and then just being prideful in things they do. The school board approaching this subject is huge for Gloucester.
((NATS/SOT))
We ask that all communication be presented in a decent and respectful manner which will allow for communities’ members to be properly heard.
((Vincent Staples
Transgender Student, Gloucester High School))

The transgender bathroom policy that the school currently has, it affects me directly because it is so, it is such an uncomfortable feeling, no matter which bathroom I’m using, to be surrounded by people who I don’t really feel like I belong with them. So, I am in favor of the current proposition that is being discussed tonight, so that I can feel like I belong in my school. Thank you.
((NATS/SOT))
I have been talking to my nine-year-old son about how he feels about sharing a bathroom with a transgender child and he’s not okay with it. He has no grievance against them as being students but he’s not okay, as a boy, with a girl entering the bathroom.
((Jessica Jackman
Resident of neighboring county))

To those who say they pity the students and the children who have to deal with opposite sex in the bathroom, this in no way affects them or you, just like being gay in the army did not negatively affect male soldiers. This is a harmful stereotype that we need to adamantly stand against. I think it would be a nice change to be ahead of the times and accept this change bathroom proposal and show that we are not all those types of people stuck in the past.
((NATS/SOT))
We are talking about issues that we’ve created. God didn’t create those. I mean, I just plead with you to surrender yourself to a better decision than just social and cultural issues and letting culture define our morals instead of Godly principles defining our morals. Thank you.
((Deidre Grimm
Local Resident))

I am a Christian, and I believe in God, and I believe God gave me this kid to open my heart and my mind. While your children were going to prom and doing their sports that they enjoy, my child was fighting for his life and for his right to use the bathroom. I beg you to do the right thing here.
((Jackie Smith
Local Resident))

We are all entitled our rights. There’s no doubt about that. We are in America. Now, if we have a third identity now, then so be it. Let’s have a bathroom for each. It’s mutual and equally respectful.
((Jennifer Wiffen
Local Resident))

I mean, to have a separate bathroom like a broom closet or the nurse’s station, that just makes me, reminds me, and I’m sorry to make the comparison, but it really just brings, that it’s like Jim Crow [segregation laws], separate but equal. We proved that was a false farce for the Black and White community. That’s yes separate but equal – no. It just puts a big target on that. It says you’re different, so I’m going to treat you different. And going through school here, every kid will say: Well, my parent believes this. Well, my parent does that. Or this, my belief system in a bible or this holy book tells me I should translate, having to believe this. It’s the adults that are stepping in with ignorance and not looking at the face of someone and doing, just trying, stepping forward, talking to me or talking to other people. I mean, we are only as strong as our weakest member and I’m not gonna be weak. I’m tired of being weak. I was weak living here as a child, but I found my voice.
((NATS/SOTs))
– Ma’am, times up.
– And that’s all I say. I love you all. Please do what’s best.
((NATS))
((Jennifer Wiffen
Local Resident))

This is a huge…amazing that’s it’s even getting spoken in loud voices, both affirmative and negative, to voice it outside their churches and outside their private houses on either side. It’s a good rational start. It’s a start. It will change.
((Text on screen:
In 2021, in a case that went to the US Supreme Court, the law sided with student Gavin Grimm. It was victory for transgender rights and reflected a growing acceptance of these rights across America, according to surveys))

((PKG)) GUN CARRYING PROFESSOR
((Previously aired June 2022))
((TRT: 06:52))
((Banner:
Finding Common Ground))
((Reporter/Camera:
Deepak Dobhal))
((Map:
Ashland, Wisconsin))
((Main character: 1 female))
((Sub characters: 2 female; 2 male))
((NATS))
((Angela Stroud
Professor, Northland College))

Thank you all for coming. I really agree with the sentiments that were expressed about the importance of talking about issues like this at the community level. Getting offline, off social media, and having face-to-face conversations is one of the healthiest things we can do. So tonight, we’re going to talk about gun violence, a topic that is more pressing today than it was when I started my research…
((NATS))
((Elizabeth Holland
Member, Up North Engaged))

We have to figure out a way to have a dialogue, and having somebody like Angela who is a scholar in this subject but who is also herself is a gun owner, she is kind of a presence already somewhat in the middle so that both sides have trust and respect for her and that kind of helps to start the dialogue.
((NATS))
((Angela Stroud
Professor, Northland College))

Guns are unique in their ability to provoke intense emotions and very little productive conversation across different perspectives. And this hit home for me. My book had just come out. And I was back home in Austin and I was at my sister’s house and my mom was there. And they started this debate about concealed carry [of guns] and they’re like screaming at each other. I’m standing there as someone who just wrote a book about this and not once did anyone say like well, actually is anything we’re saying true? Do you know anything about this topic? And of course, I’m the little sister and the daughter so, like probably that had something to do with it. But they weren’t interested at all in the facts. As soon as I started talking about the facts, they didn’t even want to have the conversation anymore.
Who benefits when we won’t even talk to each other about serious issues? When we’re afraid, when we’re either afraid of gun owners and guns or that we’re afraid that the government’s going to take our guns. Who benefits when we’re afraid of crime? And who is benefiting from this current political climate where we’re losing the ability to talk to each other about difficult issues? Are we benefiting? The clear answer is no. And that’s something we all have in common.
I want us to be on one team. Right? Like I’m thinking about this on the community level. And for me, that’s what democracy is supposed to be about, not get the NRA [National Rifle Association] involved in our conversation so we can’t even talk or any other lobby organization. I mean, I’m picking on them because of this topic. But the Gifford’s gun lobby groups have been as problematic. Bloomberg’s groups are not helpful. We need to do this work to a great extent.
((NATS/SOTs))
– Why don’t we confiscate cars from crazy people? Why do we only confiscate guns from crazy people?
– Got to be some regulation, stop somewhere.
– I own an AR 15. I won’t get into why, other than 38 years in the army. It’s what I’m familiar with. It’s not at home loaded right now.
– I have a huge fear of somebody has a weapon of mass destruction.
((Angela Stroud
Professor, Northland College))

When you focus just on the political level or the gun lobby level, people are very entrenched in their positions. They’re either pro-gun adamantly or they are anti-gun adamantly and nuance gets completely lost. But when you start to open the door for conversation and there’s a sense of trust that I’m not here to take away your guns, I just want to talk about are there possibilities for reducing gun violence, then people start to reveal their complexity.
((NATS/SOT))
And I’m not opposed to what you were talking about.
((NATS))
((Angela Stroud
Professor, Northland College))

At the meeting, there was one man who described how he owns an AR-15 because that gun style came up in the discussion and he approached me after the meeting and we talked a bit. And one of the things that came from that conversation was his willingness to admit that he has ambivalence about some of our gun policies. Guns take on a different meaning when you have to kind of recognize that they’re not just one thing. Gun ownership is about identity. It’s about emotions. And that in this complexity, we need to be willing to engage rationally so that we don’t just stick with these very tiresome pro-gun, anti-gun views, and instead get to a better place.
((NATS))

TEASE ((VO/NAT/SOT))
Coming up
((Banner))
Protests in a Small Town

((SOT))
((Sierra Mason

President, Ohio Community Coalition))
When people were yelling and screaming All lives matter, White lives matter, you’re racists, threatening dogs and guns, I was hurt but my other emotion was, this is why we’re here.

BREAK TWO
BUMP IN ((ANIM))

BLOCK C

((PKG)) PROTEST IN A SMALL TOWN
((Previously aired December 2020))
((TRT: 09:27))
((Banner:
Protest in a Small Town))
((Producer/Camera/Editor:
Deepak Dobhal))
((Map:
Minerva, Ohio))
((Main characters: 1 female; 1 male))
((Sub characters: 2 female; 1 male))
((NATS))

Go home. Just go home.
Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.
All lives can’t matter till Black lives matter.
Just go home. Just go home. Just go home.
Black lives matter.
Blue [police] lives matter. Blue lives matter.
All lives matter.
Just go home. Just go home. Just go home.

((Sierra Mason
President, Ohio Community Coalition))
When we say Black lives matter, we’re not saying only Black lives matter. We’re simply saying that there is a crisis in the Black community. We need to do what we can in our own cities to make a change.
((NATS))
Thank you so much.
((Scott Kiehl
Controls Engineer))
The way that they conducted themselves was very instrumental in
changing a lot of people’s minds. There it is, right there. “People that showed up probably were not going to burn our town down. But you
don’t know unless you show up. There were people there saying the N-word. There was some old guy that said it over and over again and I wanted to smack the f*** out of him because that’s wrong!”
((Bianca Houze
Bartender))
There were the few that were not a good representation of this town.
((Josh Calhoun
Oil/Gas Facility Operator))
Towards the end though, it did have positives, like everybody did
start talking. There were positive talks at the end. Even though people were still coming in the back and still yelling and having their opinion, there were still positive talks that happened.
((NATS))
((Sierra Mason
President, Ohio Community Coalition))
The conversation that we had today was important. We ought to see where they were coming from, civilly, civilly. A lot of people, when we have come as protesters, all they want to do is riot. They are the rioters. Today, there was a different story. They protested their city. We protested our message. We did what we had to do. We all upheld our First Amendment right and I’m very proud of Minerva for doing that. So, make some noise, Minerva.
((NATS))
((Sierra Mason

President, Ohio Community Coalition))
Whether the outcome was, you know, they were still mad, we didn’t feel like we got through, we got through. Whatever the outcome was, there was an open dialogue and that was very productive.
((NATS))

((PKG)) LOVE AND BALLOTS
((Previously aired December 2020))
((TRT: 03:51))

((Banner: United in their Differences))
((Reporter/Camera: Genia Dulot))
((Map: Escondido, California))
((Main characters: 1 female; 1 male))
((NATS))
((February 2020))
((John Hunter
Inventor))

Hi. I’m John Hunter. I’m a conservative. I’m a Trump supporter. I think he’s done a great job. Sure, he has a few character flaws in terms of his personality. He makes fun of the wrong people, I think, sometimes, but otherwise the results are spectacular. So, I support him fully.
((Laura Hunter
Retired School Teacher))

Hi. My name is Laura Hunter. I am a Mexican. I don’t like Trump character or policies in many ways.
((John Hunter
Inventor))

What about me? You ever asked me about me?
Come here, come here. I’ve got my, I’m holding my little guacamole.
But in my opinion, Trump is killing it and the people that the left is running right now are a clown show. It’s ridiculous. They do not represent middle class values whatsoever. So, I’m an average guy and I like people that work hard and try hard. And that represents more of the conservative thing, that these guys just want to get everyone a free pass. Well, who’s going to pay for the free pass? The guys who work their asses off.
((NATS))
((John Hunter
Inventor))

I like Trump for what he’s done for the economy and forget the immigration stuff. He’s no worse than Obama, except he is honest. Obama was dishonest about the immigration situation.
I started the water station project [for migrants crossing the desert] when all the lefties were afraid. They were shivering. They were bending their fingernails. I went and put water in the desert for the last 20 years. So, I’ve been a liberal in that sense. But I also believe in being honest.
((Laura Hunter
Retired School Teacher))

How in the world somebody has the nerve to start accusing Mexicans of being rapists, of being criminals? You can make your point, but you don’t have to belittle. You don’t have to insult. How can you teach children to be respectful if the guy in the White House is a bully? This is such an issue on John and our marriage because I don’t like bullies.
((Location: Crossing the Mexican border at Tecate, Mexico))
((Laura Hunter
Retired School Teacher))

And what I dislike about him the most is his lack of respect for women.
((John Hunter
Inventor))

I understand where she’s coming from. I have to admit, he insulted a lot of nice women.
((Laura Hunter and John Hunter))
Laura: What would you do if he insulted me? What would you do?
John: Honey, you know me. I punch people in the nose just for fun.
((Laura Hunter
Retired School Teacher))

We argue a lot about it. I have told people, “I’m not an extension of John. I am myself.” And we argue. If he is watching Fox News, I just walk away.
((John Hunter and Laura Hunter))
John: Once a year, because for the last two years, I turn on CNN, they’re bashing Trump. That’s all they do. “We hate Trump. We’re so unhappy about Trump.”
Laura: Don’t exaggerate. They don’t say, “We hate.”
John: I’m paraphrasing.
Laura: Be truthful.
John: Honey, this is my interview. She gives me five minutes. You got 25 minutes.
Laura: Sweetheart, you are doing that “Trump” right now. You are doing a “Trump” but lying about it.
John: Quatro or cinqo – one of those. I get five minutes of something, right?
I’m a big fan of Trump’s. I’m going to vote for him three or four times if I could legally do it.
Laura: Well, guess what? I’m going to block his vote.
((Text on screen:
John Hunter still prefers Donald Trump over Joe Biden.
And Laura Hunter still vows to even things out.))
((NATS/MUSIC))

CLOSING BUMPER ((ANIM))
voanews.com/connect

BREAK THREE
BUMP IN ((ANIM))

SHOW ENDS

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