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Debate erupts at Tampa health care meeting. Who won?




[Karen Miracle pushes Barry Osteen, right, who was debating her husband, Garry. “We have the best health care system in the world and I’m completely happy with what we have,” Osteen said. Chris Zuppa | Times]

A town hall meeting on health care reform exploded into chaos, with cat calls, jeering and shoving among the Tampa crowd.

Tp_310170__all_16 "Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!" dozens of people shouted as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, struggled to talk about health insurance reforms under consideration in Washington, D.C.

When Castor spoke, her words were immediately drowned out by groans and boos from the audience, estimated by Tampa police to be about 1,500.

"Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" "Read the bill!" "Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!"

The spectacle at the Children's Board in Ybor City sounded more like a wrestling cage match than a panel discussion on national policy, wrote the St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith.

You can see the chaos in video Smith shot at the meeting. And this photo gallery shows an opponent of President Obama’s health care plan getting slapped. 

The debate has exploded on the story with more than 800 comments posted this morning.
 Readers are criticizing President Obama's health care plan (and Castor, all supporters), others are attacking the protesters and their tactics. Similar scenes are likely to be repeated across the country as lawmakers head to their home districts for the summer recess.

Tampa reader Jane from San Antonio says: "I'm appalled that there can't be intelligent and civil discourse regarding health care."

 "What do these displays say about our democracy?" asks Jim from St. Pete. "It is a sad state of affairs when we are no longer capable of conducting a civilized debate about the issues that matter most to our nation. We have become our own worst enemy! Grow up or we're doomed!"

Tell us what you think about the what these protests mean. Who wins in this kind of debate?

[Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 3:55pm]


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