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PostPosted: 16 Sep 2009, 20:50 
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Grand Poobah
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http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfa ... d=talkbox1

Why Joe (and Kanye and Serena) Won't Apologize

We have entered what columnist Kathleen Parker calls "a political era of uninhibited belligerence," that is finding expression in sermons, at town hall meetings, on radio talk shows, even on the floor of Congress -- especially when we differ. Why are people so angry and belligerent, and so willing to express their anger publicly? Why has our civil discourse become some uncivil? What does this public anger say about our private faith? What should we do about it?

Whether or not the current climate of political incivility in our nation is worse than ever is debatable. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker admits as much in her excellent piece bringing attention to this issue. But even if out-of-control protesters at town hall meetings and obnoxious outbursts from elected officials are nothing new, the current wave of incivility has soaked all areas of our culture in a way that is unprecedented and demands an explanation. And that explanation will help us understand why Rep. Joe Wilson refuses to apologize to his colleagues on the Hill for his outburst last week.

Over the past seven days, we have been treated to obnoxious outbursts by leading figures not only in politics, but in sports and pop culture as well. In addition to the heckle heard round the world issued by Rep. Wilson, there was the verbal attack launched by Serena Williams against a line judge at the U.S. Open, and the boorish behavior displayed by rapper and music producer Kanye West when he grabbed the microphone from award winner Taylor Swift at MTV's Video Music Awards.

All of these stories are rooted in the same basic fact: speakers who think it's all about them. And if it isn't about them, they seem to think it must be about some other individual who is even more important than they are. Apparently though, it's beyond any of the offenders' ability to appreciate that civility is about all of us.

Civility is about creating a culture of mutual respect, not simply making sure that the biggest celebrity in the room has their moment. But Serena doesn't get that, and neither do Kanye or Joe. And that's why they can not or will not offer meaningful apologies for their bad behavior.

Kanye West has tried to apologize twice, once on his blog and once on Jay Leno. He blew it both times. In each case he referred to having stolen Taylor's moment. West doesn't understand that what he did was wrong, threatening and self-centered. He simply acknowledged that his completely narcissistic behavior cut into another celebrity's moment of self-centeredness!

Ms. Williams, having nobody famous to whom to apologize, has yet to properly acknowledge the implications of threatening a line judge with bodily harm. Like Mr. West, Ms. Williams fails to understand that it doesn't matter how much pressure she was under, it's not about her! She was wrong and she should simply say that, apologize for it and shut up. The storm would pass and she would be forgiven. But that seems to be beyond her.

Apparently, it's beyond Joe Wilson also. He apologized to the President and he has no plans to apologize any more, not to his colleagues and not to anyone else. Like Kanye West, Wilson seems to think that his words caused a personal hurt to the President and he is willing to apologize for that, but not for anything else.

Wilson sees the president like West sees Taylor Swift i.e. another star whose moment he stole. It's a personal thing, Wilson seems to think, so why bother apologize to his colleagues? Were this attitude not so pervasive in our culture it would be hard to believe that one could so misunderstand the moment as Rep. Wilson does.

He just doesn't get it. Wilson doesn't appreciate that House rules which ban screaming out things like, "You lie!" are not simply about protecting the man at the mic, they are about creating a culture which encourages the free exchange of ideas. When that culture goes off the rails we all suffer and that's why Joe Wilson owes his colleagues and the nation an apology.

Because Wilson seems to labor under that same misunderstanding that civility is linked to celebrity, he can't and won't apologize. Perhaps next election his constituents will elect Kanye or Serena. They are not so different from Joe and one sings better and the other has a much better serve.

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PostPosted: 16 Sep 2009, 21:03 
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Grand Poobah
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a blog post on Southerners and Wilson's outburst.

Quote:
“You Lie!”: Southern Unhospitality and the Charles Sumner Attack
By Laurie Israel
Joe Wilson’s (Rep. South Carolina) uncouth and aggressive heckling of President Obama during the President’s speech on health care reform at the Joint Session of Congress on September 9 (“You Lie!”) is now part of the fabric of United States history. Wilson’s behavior is firmly rooted in southern culture and history. There is a particular institution in the south of violence (verbal and physical) that pervades up through modern times, starting in the early history of this country. Below is a very notable example that I was reminded of this week after the “You Lie!” incident.


http://laurieisraelthink.com/2009/09/12 ... er-attack/

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PostPosted: 16 Sep 2009, 23:39 
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As to incivility, the New Left of the 1960's and early 1970's was extremely infamous for that, though I don't recall many details. The Berkeley "Free Speech Movement" got known as the "Filthy Speech Movement", for instance.

It's now the Right that's taken up incivility; the isn't much of the New-Left incivility anymore. Their position is:

When someone heckles one of their heroes, it's depriving that hero of their freedom of speech.

When they heckle someone they dislike, it's depriving them of their freedom of speech.

They think that they have an absolute right to heckle, but that nobody has the right to heckle them.


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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2009, 07:19 
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The right and the left seem to keep switching to me.

:dontknow:

It's never right correct to be uncivil in that way, though.

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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2009, 09:12 
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A symptom of the impression of who is "on top".

Left-Right, Black-White, Religious-Atheist, Male-Female, Old-Young, Gay-Straight, Immigrant-Citizen, etc.

Jess is right, no one should act in a manner that is uncivil. It won't, alas, stop the behavior in those that feel they will not be heard in any other way...

As to celebrities and politicians...business as usual... :dontknow:


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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2009, 09:31 
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Commentator Michael Kinsley wrote back in 1993 about how Right-Wing P.C. Is Still P.C.; he started off by noting
Quote:
Political fashions drift from left to right. The enthusiastic sectarian style of American communists during the 1930s and 1940s traveled with the neoconservatives when they washed ashore as immigrants to the land of conservatism during the 1970s and 1980s. The rallying cry of race-blind equal opportunity, which was of little interest to right-wingers during the heyday of the civil rights movement, was later taken as the right's own in the struggle over affirmative action. And now, having spent recent years diagnosing a virus of democracy they label "political correctness," some conservatives seem to be succumbing themselves.


And so it is with incivility and heckling and the like. Though I don't recall Democratic politicians fearing the displeasure of the more obnoxious antiwar activists the way that Republican politicians now fear the displeasure of the likes of Rush Limbaugh.


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