Uncivil Liberties

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering: What is up with all of the public displays of rude behavior lately? If you haven’t been under a rock in the last several days, you witnessed a clip ofSerena Williams having a tantrum on the court a la’ John McEnroe (expletives and all), you saw Kanye West snatch away what should have been a shining moment for young Taylor Swift at the VMAs, and Joe Wilson shout you lie toPresident Obama during a televised speech. you have also likely seen clips of fellowAmericans engaging in shouting matches during town hall meetingsand sign toting tea party-goerswith signsdepicting our President as Hitler among other things.What has happened to respect, professionalism, decorum and just plain good manners?

The problem is not in the fact that people disagree with others, it is in how they choose to communicate their disagreement.Serena, Kanye and Joe have every right to feel the way they do and every right to express it. As we have all been taught from an early age, however, there is a time, a place and a way in which to express yourself. And you can do itin a manner that will not make you look like a jerk. In spite of apologies made, the bottom line is that no matter how strongly a person feels about something, that alone does not justify the outburst. it shows a lack of self-control and a lack of good judgment.

Rude behavior suchas the instances described above are nothing new, butthey do seem to bemore common. Why is that?Personally, I like to blame the trend on Simon Cowell.

That’s just plain rude. This was the first thought that crossed my mind a few years ago when I first heard American Idol’s Simon Cowell critiquing would be contestants for the show. his mean-spirited and offensive commentsdid not sit well with meand I came to the conclusion that even if show producers were willing to put up with such rude behavior, Americans would not and, thus, his days on the show were numbered. Was I wrong. What I did not realize at the time, wasthat he was the show. Week in and week out, viewers tuned in to hear Simon blast seemingly tone deaf contestants with cutting critiques which frequently included terms such as hideous, appalling and abysmal to describeperformances. Some contestantsseemed genuinely hurt by the comments, oftenin tears when interviewed for a response. In others, it aroused anger and disdain toward the British judge. Either way,his comments evoked emotion which was exactly the point.

This same insensitivity has permeated nearly every other reality show in existence. We are now also seeing it in the media. has this on the air rude conductreflecting a total disregard for the feelings of others impacted the way we conduct ourselves in communicating withothers?I am not aware of any formal studies to reflect this, but I would venture to say that although rudeness appears to be more prevalenttoday than in the past, itjust appears to be sosince it has become an inextricable part of regular television viewing. the conflict and drama resulting from rude behavior apparently makes for good ratings.

In light of National Outburst Week, declared as such by the Huffington Post, perhaps it’s time to revisit the basics of common courtesy andsocial etiquette. you know what I mean. the teachings or our parents, clergyand school teacherswho repeatedly told us to treat others asyou would like to be treated and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.So, the next time you think the line judge was wrong, or you think the wrong person won the video music award, or you think what the Presidentsaid is inaccurate, think twice before you open your mouth to speak. It’s better to think now and avoid apologies later.

Uncivil Liberties


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