The Death of Civility

Maybe it’s just me, but I see a strange synchronicity between Representative Joe Wilson, Kanye and the town hall protestors. Each, to me, is a clear illustration of how we’ve come off the rails in this country in respect for one another.

At one time such behavior was limited to the athletic field of play, and even then only in certain sports, such as professional tennis and soccer, but no one, in real life would think of behaving in such a way. So, where was the tipping point where such behavior became mainstream or even encouraged, such as in the case of Joe Wilson? If I had to say, I would say the 2000 presidential election, where eager news cameras documented boorish behavior by local (and many not so local) citizens protesting even the attempt to recount ballots in the Florida election. And since this bad behavior continues to be rewarded (Joe Wilson has raised over a million dollars since his outburst, the town hall protestors have slowed healthcare reform, in spite of poll numbers suggesting otherwise, and I’m sure viewership of Jay Leno’s show tonight will be much higher than if Kayne had kept the peace), we will see more of such behavior.

See these guerrilla tactics have proven effective to the chagrin of public relations workers everywhere. But while such behavior does affect product sales and sponsorship (i.e. Glenn Beck) the Karl Roves of the world have realized that it is a very effective means to solidify one’s base and obtain press coverage to one’s cause. The AM talk show world (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc…) realized too, that it is more profitable to loyal sliver of the population, than lukewarm masses. The sponsors that remain with these provocateurs will pay top dollar for access to such a focused and rabid group.

And speaking of the masses, it seems that the latter day equivalent to the Roman edict of “Bread (fast cheap food) and Circus’ (Reality TV, sports, etc)” suffices enough to keep us disengaged and amused by the death of civility. But rest assured that this lack of attention will cost us dearly, if we don’t stand up to it now. Not just for sake of those who agree with our political and social position, but for all our sakes, we must regain what we have lost, so that processes we hold dear (honest and fair elections, equal treatment, care for those in need) may survive as well. For many of these processes are the very reasons for maintaining a society.


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