Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Wave of Incivility"

From the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, connecting the outbursts from Kanye West, Representative Joe Wilson, and Serena Williams (emphasis mine):

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.


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.

This is just another example of how narcissistic our culture has become. Apologies have become de rigur for any sort of gaffe, but they're usually meaningless. The offenders do it because they have to, rarely contrite. Kanye's outburst was stupid, and his point--that award shows should be based on real merit--was lost. All three were disrespectful, but we are used to saying what we want in whatever forum, since we gotta express ourselves. That's our excuse; we don't mean to personally offend, you see, but we need to be heard.

1 comment:

mikhailbakunin said...

Absolutely. Decorum, decorum, decorum!