From Serena Williams losing it after a questionable call at the US Open, to Kanye West’s opinionated and pro-Beyonce interruption of Taylor Swift, to Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s healthcare speech…people are asking, what happened to good manners? 

 

ABC News questions whether these outbursts are an indication of a shift in national values.

 

“Why is there such an epidemic of incivility?”
“As you might imagine, all these recent outbursts have touched off a cascade of discussion about the quote unquote coarsening of our culture.”

 

Our research shows news media have ventured to explain the reasons behind the recent rudeness.

 

First, an ABC News contributor points the finger at the society’s affection for exhibitionism.

 

“George Will blames it on a Culture of entitlement where we celebrate emotional exhibitionism on football fields and cable television; we have decided it is therapeutic to express ourselves, no matter what our thoughts.”

 

KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon reaches out to a psychiatrist, who says this apparent loss of self-control applies specifically to public figures…

 

“They think they are entitled… They think they are the better person -- that they are the greatest. Negative publicity is the same as positive publicity.”


But maybe this has something to do with the U.S. society? USA Today presents a view from the head of The Civility Initiative at John Hopkins University.

 

“American society is among the most informal in the world, and often that informality crosses over into incivility … Now, you add the informality of the Internet … and all bets are off…”

 

CNN, however, looks at the issue from the context of politics and shows us other countries have seen worse.

 

“…Take the British House of Commons for example…Prime Minister misspoke about bank bailouts…[Booing wildly] In Mexico…YouTube loaded with clips of lawmakers duking it out on floor of national assembly. Politicians fight in India, in Ukraine, even George Bush must duck in some places.” 

 

Many media outlets consult Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of U.S. well-known P’s and Q’s expert Emily Post.

The Columbus Dispatch quotes her saying about the three incidents.

“Not one of those things would I blame on modern society, I’d blame them on ego and bad intentions and simple mistakes.” 

Finally, others refuse to make excuses; they just call it bad manners and express worries about the trend.

Etiquette expert Angelyn Davis: “When it comes to manners, we are at cultural low tide…the demand for etiquette training in this country has quadrupled just the last many years.” (FOX News)

Nancy Mitchell: “There’s a breakdown in civility because there are too many bad examples.” (ABC 7)

“It’s a trend in the way our society been has moving away from manners and has called that behavior acceptable instead of an isolated incident.” (FOX News)

So, what do you think? Do you think that America is making much to do about nothing, or do you think these outbursts were a legitimate comment on the nation’s bad manners?

What Happened to Public Civility?

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Transcript
Sep 16, 2009

What Happened to Public Civility?

From Serena Williams losing it after a questionable call at the US Open, to Kanye West’s opinionated and pro-Beyonce interruption of Taylor Swift, to Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s healthcare speech…people are asking, what happened to good manners? 

 

ABC News questions whether these outbursts are an indication of a shift in national values.

 

“Why is there such an epidemic of incivility?”
“As you might imagine, all these recent outbursts have touched off a cascade of discussion about the quote unquote coarsening of our culture.”

 

Our research shows news media have ventured to explain the reasons behind the recent rudeness.

 

First, an ABC News contributor points the finger at the society’s affection for exhibitionism.

 

“George Will blames it on a Culture of entitlement where we celebrate emotional exhibitionism on football fields and cable television; we have decided it is therapeutic to express ourselves, no matter what our thoughts.”

 

KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon reaches out to a psychiatrist, who says this apparent loss of self-control applies specifically to public figures…

 

“They think they are entitled… They think they are the better person -- that they are the greatest. Negative publicity is the same as positive publicity.”


But maybe this has something to do with the U.S. society? USA Today presents a view from the head of The Civility Initiative at John Hopkins University.

 

“American society is among the most informal in the world, and often that informality crosses over into incivility … Now, you add the informality of the Internet … and all bets are off…”

 

CNN, however, looks at the issue from the context of politics and shows us other countries have seen worse.

 

“…Take the British House of Commons for example…Prime Minister misspoke about bank bailouts…[Booing wildly] In Mexico…YouTube loaded with clips of lawmakers duking it out on floor of national assembly. Politicians fight in India, in Ukraine, even George Bush must duck in some places.” 

 

Many media outlets consult Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of U.S. well-known P’s and Q’s expert Emily Post.

The Columbus Dispatch quotes her saying about the three incidents.

“Not one of those things would I blame on modern society, I’d blame them on ego and bad intentions and simple mistakes.” 

Finally, others refuse to make excuses; they just call it bad manners and express worries about the trend.

Etiquette expert Angelyn Davis: “When it comes to manners, we are at cultural low tide…the demand for etiquette training in this country has quadrupled just the last many years.” (FOX News)

Nancy Mitchell: “There’s a breakdown in civility because there are too many bad examples.” (ABC 7)

“It’s a trend in the way our society been has moving away from manners and has called that behavior acceptable instead of an isolated incident.” (FOX News)

So, what do you think? Do you think that America is making much to do about nothing, or do you think these outbursts were a legitimate comment on the nation’s bad manners?

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