2009.09.23 Where is Miss Manners when we need her most?

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

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?

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