I was looking forward to an ugly debate over civility at City Hall Wednesday. You just don't come across oxymorons like that every day.
It's like a tax check-off to save endangered tax cuts. Or a 9-11 commission to find out why we were surprised by a surprise attack.
But City Hall tops them all. They might have the greatest collection of oxymorons in the whole wide world of rhetorical sports.
A parade of certifiable yahoos lines up at the microphone each week to shout profanities, insults, racist slurs and misdemeanor stupidities. And then they put the cherry on top of the mud pie by demanding ... respect.
Council members stare at their desks or listen with blank faces like judges at a bad talent show.
If the rants go too far, the mayor might ask a cop to eject someone. But mostly, they sit there and take it. The shouters know the trick is to dump the sludge in the last 15 seconds of their two minutes of microphone fame. Those who get ejected come back next week for an encore.
So Councilman Pat DeWine proposed a new rule: Anyone ejected from a council meeting will be suspended from public comments for 60 days.
But six votes to pass it were not a sure thing.
This is the same City Hall that had a riot in a Law and Public Safety meeting - a classic oxymoron. So hearing that council might not pass tougher rules of behavior was like hearing that New York City can't get enough votes to deny a hotel reservation to Osama Bin Laden.
But City Council came through. Everyone voted yes except Chris Smitherman. He seems to think cops who are even accused of using the N-word five years ago should be fired - with a real torch - but people who shout and scream it at council meetings just don't get enough respect.
"We can't arbitrarily say what is disruptive and what's not," he argued, drawing disruptive applause (an almost certain indication that you're on the wrong side of an issue at City Hall). "What policies do we put forward that bring this kind of thing on?" he asked. "We must hear the voice of the people."
The other council members showed amazing self-restraint. They should have answered that the only policy needed to bring it on is a plugged-in microphone. The voice of these people sounds like the hate-speech dictionary.
They did explain that the real "voice of the people'' is being bullied and drowned out by the shouting yahoos.
"Disruption is contrary in my mind to free speech,'' said David Crowley, while someone waved a sign saying "Mayor (n-word) Charlie.''
Mayor Charlie Luken banged a gavel to stop the heckling and jeering. "I can't hear the solicitor because of the bullhorn (outside)," he said.
Smitherman proposed his own anti-disruption amendment - drawing more disruptive applause. He said citizens should be able to start over if a council member is not paying attention. Welcome to 14 hours of mandatory verbal abuse.
"It just gets worse every week,'' DeWine said before the meeting. "Last week we had all these kids down there, 10-year-olds visiting City Hall, and these guys were just screaming."
"What people saw in the riots was no sense of order and it started here.''
Four years later, nine out of 10 elected leaders of Cincinnati
agree that name-calling, obscenity, slander and threats are not a good idea at public meetings.
I guess progress in Cincinnati is not an oxymoron.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8301.
Speed claims another teen
Shootings laid to guns on street
Fernald's nuke waste refused
Lakota schools cutting teachers
Museum makes much of cicada invasion
IN THE TRISTATE
Crest Hills project voted down
Fund raising is ramped up
Homeowner continues fight vs. gun club
City Council cracks down on disruptions
Tax ruling stymies plans
Frustrated solicitor exits post
Greenhills buys Tasers
White Pillars tops list of projects
Developer cites blight study errors
Red tape stalls counties' plans
Public safety briefs
Kings campus lead cleanup on target
Trustee to fight harassment count
Historic site invites rights pioneer
Sealing records OK, says court
Lucky Pocket Piece? In 1929, it fell short
Is shelter quick to kill cats?
Plan seeks to transform barn
Crowley: Talkative Bunning stirs up the gators
Bronson: Council votes not to respect shouts of hate
Reaching Out For Kids plans 1st golf tourney
Harry Kroeger loved his work fighting fires
Parsons suspect from start
College student charged with DUI after hitting bus
Budget blame game begins
Start times won't change
NKU chief presses lawmakers for budget
Senate gives final passage to marriage amendment
Another session with no budget
Kentucky news briefs