By Nathan Barton
On Friday, the 12th, I briefly perused The Blaze [theblaze.com] and ran across a disquieting list of stories which I believe shows how the civility of discourse in our society (not just that of the Fifty States or North America, but around the world) is rapidly disappearing. This is not, of course, a good thing (as I will explain).
Incivility or rudeness (lack of politeness) and similar terms are hardly strong enough. Consider:
- ‘Feminist’ NYT writer admits it’s hypocritical to criticize Theresa May’s [PM of the UK] attire, does it anyway
- HS assistant principal caught on video screaming, cursing at teen pro-life activists has resigned
- Republican congressman has a message for protesters who left a profane sign at his home
- Crowd boos GOP lawmaker for invoking the name [sic] of God – in a church [building]
- Hysterical Keith Olbermann calls on foreign countries to release damaging intel on Trump
- Liberal woman claims assault after being ‘offended’ by Confederate flag rug
- ‘Family Guy’ mocks Kellyanne Conway [a White House spokesperson, I think] in Emmy ad, gets destroyed by conservatives
- Professor who said ‘some white people might have to die’ is now receiving death threats
- 13-year-old Pakistani boy has his hand chopped off after asking for wages
I could go on and on. The above list (consider the source) concentrates on Tranzi/liberal attacks but it is obvious that conservatives as well as liberals are guilty. (As are libertarians and others.)
Of course, we do not see it just in the news and commentaries. We see it more and more in everyday life. Rude, uncivil interactions are more and more common. From being cut off in traffic or in the check-out line, to being given the finger by passers-by if you are doing something they don’t like, it happens constantly. We see it when cops cuss out “civilians” and the civilians cuss out the cops. When shop employees treat customers rudely – and yes, when customers are verbally abusive to store workers. When children diss their parents and everyone around them. When high school and college students treat each other (and teachers, parents, and everyone else) like trash.
Rudeness is more than just vocal, of course. It can include actions that (while not aggressive) are offensive in very extreme ways, or designed to arouse anger and other feelings. It can include “making out” in public; public urination and nudity, refusal to yield right-of-way, littering, and much more.
And it seems to be getting worse.
Many tell us that this kind of rudeness comes “from the top down.” Politicians and other celebrities show this. Others say that such rudeness proves a society is stable and sound – people are allowed to (can afford to) be rude because they know they are shielded from any severe responses by society. Others speak glowingly of our “freedom” to choose from an ever-growing array of pleasures that often are at the expense of others. More and more rejoice in the rejection and elimination of traditions and customs which are “outdated” and promote racism and dozens of other rejected philosophies. Rudeness is seen as a part of “honesty” or “letting it all hang out.” A “healthy” society, we are told, is more tolerant and diverse – so those who are not rude (or dislike it) are to blame for the impact of rudeness on their communities and daily activities.
But others have told us this incivility is evidence of the decay and collapse of society – or even that our society is already dysfunctional and the race towards collapse of our communities is speeding up. Some religious people herald it as a sign of the Second Coming. For some, it is a reason to have government control more, making society more regimented – undisciplined people are rude so they must be disciplined to NOT be rude.
I tend to see it more as a collapse of society. Politeness is the lubricant which gets us over rough spots in our interactions with each other. I think it is a precursor to even more violence, more government control, more confrontation between not just people in government or the market, but in all aspects of life.
It is seen not just in the seeming uptick in domestic violence to which police respond, but even in the fact that more and more people involved in domestic disputes are MORE willing to call for police intervention. We see it on college campuses, and we see it in schools, even in pre-schools. Rudeness begets violence. It encourages hate. It breeds fear. And the kind of fear it creates is itself damaging.
So, what can we do about it? Lets talk about that in Part 2.
Mama’s Note: I read the headlines and a few of the stories each day too, but I think it is interesting that I don’t see that rudeness, that breakdown in society much at all in rural America.
I don’t see any rude or obnoxious behavior among either adults or children here. When I first came from California, I was astonished to find the children, especially, to be polite and exceptionally quiet. They often work hard, and take their activities seriously while they have fun. No gangs or individuals hanging around, no graffiti, no vandalism that I’ve seen. The hardware store where I work leaves a great deal of valuable merchandise out on the sidewalk each day when they close, and there has been no theft or destruction of any of it.
So, I think this is more a problem in the cities and metro areas. It is none the less a real problem, of course, and may eventually spread to other areas. But I don’t feel hopeless or helpless about it.