Call me old-fashioned but I remember the days when common decency was...well, common.Whatever happened to "The Golden Rule"? You know, treat others as you would like to be treated? Whatever happened to treating each other with respect, even if we disagree? I don't know. I think we are moving away from a basic foundation of decency and respect and, as a result, rudeness is becoming more commonplace and seemingly, more acceptable. In the past month, there have been a series of shocking displays of downright rude behavior.
It started with a man who thought it was totally acceptable for him to haul off and slap a crying toddler in a WalMart store in Georgia. He defends his behavior by saying he spoke to the child's mother first and when she could not control her child, he took matters into his own hands. REALLY? Can I just say, he best to be glad it wasn't my child he put his hands on because he would not be the one currently sitting in a jail cell. He'd be in the morgue and I'd be in jail..on murder charges!
It continued this past Wednesday night when South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson yelled "you lie" during President Obama's address to Congress about his plan for health care reform. I was at work and was unable to watch the speech, but I listened to it on CNNLive. On audio, all you heard was the disruption - and then the boos of the entire chamber. At first, I thought it was a mistake. Surely, no one would be "bold" enough to disrupt the President's speech, would they?
Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a noisy environment holding a conversation and just as you say something, the room noise dies down and everyone hears you say something inappropriate? I thought initially that is what happened in the Joe Wilson situation. But if you look at the video clip, you will see that is not exactly the case. Before the "you lie" outburst, there was a disruption on that same side of the chamber. I don't know if it was Congressman Wilson testing to see if he could get away with making an outburst, but the outburst that caused everyone to sit up and take notice was not the first outburst made that evening. It was rude. It was disrespectful. And Rep. Wilson has felt the brunt of public criticism and rebuke. He has made an apology, the apology has been accepted, we should move on, right? I don't know. The jury is still out. And it will be up to the voters in South Carolina to decide next year if Joe Wilson is who they want representing them in Congress.
Then tonight, at the Video Music Awards (VMA) show, Kanye West took rudeness to another level. Taylor Swift, a young rising country star, had just been awarded the best video performance award when Kanye West came on stage, took the mic from her and then announced that Beyonce' (another artist up for the same award) had the best video ever. REALLY? I don't watch awards shows, but I saw the clip on YouTube (like everyone else who missed the awards show) and even Beyonce seemed surprised, shocked and embarassed by his outburst. Now, whether it was a publicity stunt or just outright rudeness, I don't know. It was inappropriate, disrespectful to BOTH artists, and made Kanye look like a jerk. Of course, that is just my opinion.
When Joe Wilson made his outburst, thousands of people logged onto the website of his opponent for next year's Congressional race and put their money where their protests were and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his election campaign. Since Kanye's "stunt" on the VMAs, several people have commented that they will not support Kanye anymore. Good for them. It's one thing to be vocal, another to put your money where your mouth is. Better to do both.
Rudeness is never acceptable. And we need to speak out against it wherever we see it. Whether it is the kid who doesn't give up his seat on public transit for the elderly or pregnant woman. Whether it is the stranger bold enough to slap a crying toddler in a store. Whether it is a Congressman yelling out in what he called a "town hall" moment. Whether it is an entertainer disrupting a young woman's shining moment of achievement...we, as a people, need to stand up, speak up, and denounce such behavior as unacceptable.