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Advice for Rep. Harris on how to treat teenagers at a town hall meeting [Letter]

The following letter was written to Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican who represents Maryland’s First District in Congress. A copy was provided for publication.

Dear Rep. Andy Harris,

My daughter, Lindsey, and I recently attended one of your rare town hall meetings, and she had an opportunity to ask some questions of you. You might remember her, because the discussion turned quite heated, at least on your part. She remained calm and respectful.

Lindsey is understandably concerned about school safety. Rather than listen to her concerns, you repeatedly cut her off, picked a fight with her and mischaracterized her concerns.

From one parent to another, let me offer a few quick tips on teenagers:

1. Don’t be condescending. Her concerns about school safety are sincere. It’s clear you don’t feel empathy toward students fearful about their classmates getting gunned down, but at least try to fake it.

2. Let them speak. No one likes being cut off, especially smart, motivated teenagers who aren’t going to stop talking just because you have a microphone and hers was taken away.

3. Don’t twist their words. She asked about regulating assault weapons. You accused her of wanting to take guns away from duck hunters on the Eastern Shore. No one hunts ducks with an AR-15.

4. Their “BS meters” are accurate. Hers was on high alert as soon as you started speaking. To claim there’s nothing you can do to prevent school violence because you’re “just one of 435 representatives in Congress,” is weak. If you feel impotent in your job, resign. Others are eager to take your place.

5. Don’t underestimate them. If you think that after the town hall she - and the other young women who spoke about this issue - will simply go away, I’m happy to tell you that they’ll vote in the mid-terms, and then they’ll throw their energy into electing your opponent.

If you’ve never seen what teenagers are capable of, I think you’ll find out in November.

Stephanie Darling

Rising Sun

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