I try to stay out of politics in the blogosphere-- I just don't have a thick enough skin. But this stuff has been going on all around me in every day life and it's driving me nuts. So, I'm going to vent here.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about Joe Wilson's outburst during the President's address to a Joint Session of Congress. The outburst itself bothered me, but what bothers me more is the ensuing debate. It seems to center around whether or not it is right for a member of Congress to have such an outburst. And if people's opinion would change if it was the former president speaking instead of our current one.
To me that argument is moot. A member of Congress is not allowed to have such an outburst during a session of Congress. When s/he joined Congress s/he agreed to operate within certain rules in that venue (a more concise viewing can be found here). That applied during the last administration as well. You agree to those rules, operate by them, and learn how to work within them (or change them).An ordinary citizen at a town hall did not agree to those same rules at the outset and if s/he wants to give a shout out in the middle of anyone's (including the President) speech, then fine.
But in certain venues you agree to follow certain rules. I don't interrupt my professor when s/he is talking to tell them that I think s/he is wrong. I raise my hand and state that when recognized (ok, I'm not going to lie here, chances are I'd utilize another outlet, i.e. office hours, to do so, but then again I'm not that ballsy). While I've seen things get heated during scientific debates, I've rarely seen someone interrupt the speaker (and no matter the validity of the interrupters statements, it's rarely looked upon favorably).
In summary: Joe Wilson gave up the right(? I don't think that's the word I'm looking for) to shout out during a Presidential Address to a Joint Session of Congress. He agreed to rules, knew about them, and broke them. If he feels that the rules shouldn't apply to him, then he should be a private citizen.