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Thursday, November 4,2010

A gathering for moderation

East Lansing holds a satellite “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

by Gretchen Cochran

Thursday, Nov. 4 — Mid-Michigan political junkies gathered Saturday at Reno’s East Side in East Lansing to become part of comedians Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.”  


With the help of Facebook and other social media, the Washington D.C. rally spawned sister rallies at 800 gatherings in 67 countries and drew an estimated 215,000 people to the grounds of the Washington Monument.


The East Lansing gig, hosted by Tim Nester and his partners at TalkLansing Radio, attracted about 25 locals who laughed and cheered to the nearly-life sized televised figures of people satirically calling for the softening of debate in terms of decibels as well as discourse.


Gathered as if for the Michigan State University football game that would follow, the men and women, perhaps 40 to 70 years old, took in the TV mayhem, and chatted between numbers.


“It’s time for people to come together to the middle,” said Ari Adler, 43, who does public relations for Delta Dental of Michigan. “Our society can’t survive if we remain so polarized we can’t even talk.”


Terry DiPierro, a retired Lansing teacher, said Stewart’s and Colbert’s television shows on Comedy Central make the insanity of what is happening in society and the political world bearable.


She blamed the news media for the polarization and distortion of public discourse.


“I fear for America’s future and its economy. The people are terrified. Terror brings on unreasonableness and people begin scapegoating (sic), blaming one another.”  


“We’re really not so far apart,” said Mark King, a Lansing musician, emphasizing that friendly debate would reveal that.


Walt Sorg, a partner in the TalkLansing Radio station, was in Washington and expected to talk online with the Reno’s group but D.C. communication systems were jammed with the unusually large crowd.


The Lansing radio station’s goal was to create a Mid-Michigan “meet-up” type of thing, Nester said.
“We wanted to take the temperature down,” he said, referring to the tone of this last election cycle.
“Most of us are in the middle, just trying to live our lives. After all, 100 percent of us agree on 80 percent of the issues,” Nester said.
“We just have to dial down the emotion or we will lose what we have.”
Adler spoke of his two young daughters and the kind of world he hopes they can look forward to — one of debate, not divisiveness.

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