2009.09.23 Where is Miss Manners when we need her most?

Written by David Green.


September used to be known for the end of summer, the beginning of the school year, and the start of the football season. But not anymore. September 2009, will probably go down in history as the month rudeness ruled the country.

Would anyone ever have heard the name of South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson except for his outburst during a joint session of Congress when he shouted “You lie!” at President Obama? I certainly was unfamiliar with him previously, how about you?

To his credit, President Obama was quick to accept an apology and express a desire to move on. Not so fast to forget were those who filled the campaign coffers of both Wilson and his expected re-election opponent with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised at bad behavior coming from a politician, but from tennis star Serena Williams? At the recent U.S. Open, an upset Williams threatened to shove a (insert your own “F” word here) ball down the (repeat “F” word if necessary) throat of a line judge.

It was a performance way out of character for Williams, but reminded me of the 1980s when tennis was largely known for the foul language of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Both were legendary players, but on the other hand, it’s tennis we’re talking about. Back then, about the only time you heard the sport mentioned was when Connors or McEnroe acted up. Come to think of it, when was the last time you heard Ms. Williams mentioned before her F-bomb outburst?

And then there’s rapper Kanye West. Best known for interrupting a Hurricane Katrina fund-raiser a few years ago to express his opinion that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people,” this time West lowered his sights a bit and took on a teenage girl. West went on stage and grabbed the microphone away from Taylor Swift during the MTV Video Music Awards.

West was annoyed that Swift had won an award that he felt should have gone to Beyonce Knowles. He interrupted the teenager’s acceptance speech to let everyone know his feelings. The firestorm he set off might just make him think twice before he speaks in the future, if that’s possible. At least, whoever runs these events should consider keeping West as far away from microphones as they can, if it’s even necessary to invite him at all.

Published reports indicate that virtually everyone backstage jumped to Swift’s defense after West’s outburst. Later in the broadcast, Beyonce herself won an award and called Swift out to have her moment in the spotlight without a West intrusion. I hope Beyonce’s parents were watching to witness what a classy daughter they raised.

West got what he deserved later in the week when word got out that President Obama had called him a “jackass.” So far, Obama hasn’t apologized for the choice of words, either. Good for him.

Maybe we should thank West for his efforts in uniting the country. I suspect former president Bush has at least privately regarded Kanye as a jackass since his telethon outburst. Now President Obama has joined in. Their shared loathing of West may be a basis for bringing them together.

And then there was my own surprising little experience with someone else’s rudeness last week. While in Wauseon, I pulled up behind a car at a red light and while waiting for the light to change, I noticed one of those chrome “Jesus” fishes mounted on the back.

When the light turned to green, the car sat there without moving at least seven or eight seconds. Figuring the driver might be reading his Bible instead of watching the light, I tapped my horn once to alert him. Not even a beep-beep, just a single beep. I guess that was one beep too many. Mr. Jesus Fish rewarded me with an obscene hand gesture, then went on his way.

So much for loving thy neighbor. What would Jesus do? Not that, I’m fairly certain. But what can you do with a person like that? I have no idea who it was, of course, so they will get away with it, at least this time. And that’s really too bad. He could have benefited from a lesson or two in manners. And who better to teach it than Beyonce’s parents?

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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