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TRANSCRIPT: Remarks from Governor Phil Scott Weekly Press Conference on Civility and Respect

February 7, 2023

Montpelier, Vt. – At his weekly press conference today, Governor Phil Scott addressed concerning incidents seen at youth sporting events over the past several months, and the need for everyone to work to be better role models.

A transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks can be found below, and you can watch the remarks by clicking here.

Governor Scott: Good afternoon. I want to start today by addressing some concerning incidents we’ve seen over the past few months at youth sporting events, from spectators in the stands using racial slurs at players of color, to the tragic violence in Alburgh recently.

Now, I understand the passion surrounding sports, but it’s clear we have a problem, and we should not tolerate the hate. And it’s not just at these events, or sporting events in general, or unique to Vermont.

I believe it’s a symptom of a much deeper problem, where there’s far too much anger, and a lack of respect in our society. We’re constantly being divided into camps, whether it’s politics, religion, race, or social issues. Everything has turned into “us versus them.”

Too many want to stoke fear - raise the temperature - which can sometimes lead to violence.

We see politicians convince their supporters that the other side is the “enemy,” and some in the national media choose to ramp up conflicts to get more views, sell more papers, or increase their ratings. And when both politicians and media are successful with those strategies, they end up pitting neighbors against neighbors.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, we’re seeing more and more of that build up, and boil over. It leads to big problems, like storming the capitol, but also on a smaller scale, like what happened in Alburgh.

None of us should find this acceptable, and all of us have an obligation to tone down the rhetoric, recognize the humanity in everyone, including those we disagree with, and just be better role models for our kids.

The idea that a brawl would break out amongst adults, in front of their kids at a middle school basketball game, is just plain sad.

Our kids watch us every single day and many of them want to be just like us. What message are we sending, what are we teaching them about how to handle disagreements, when this is what they see?

I think we should all ask ourselves what we can we do in our everyday lives to help bring down the temperature a bit and be a better human being.

Maybe it’s deciding not to wade into that keyboard feud on social media with someone you’ve never met. Maybe instead of flipping off the driver who cut you off, you let it go, and reflect on the fact that you’ve probably made a mistake or two behind the wheel as well.

We also have a responsibly in this building too, from public servants, to lobbyists, and those who report on it. Not every disagreement has to be a “battle” or a “fight.”

I think almost everyone here just wants to make Vermont a better place. So let’s use that as the starting point.

Now, reasonable people can disagree on the issues. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. But it doesn’t mean we’re not trying to do what we think is best, and it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t care about the wellbeing of others. We just have different thoughts and approaches on how to get there.

It all comes down to respect and civility, and doing our part to calm things down a bit when tensions are high, and things get heated. At the end of the day, whether you’re a parent, co-worker, public servant, or leader in any capacity, the things we say and do carry much more weight than we might think.

So before acting, just remember—regardless of age—we’re all role models for someone, and we all need to play our part. And it’s never too late to be a better person.