Journalists, for all their self-importance, are often a little naïve about the way the real world works. Sure, being a newsie is a grind, the hours are not great and the public holds us in lower esteem than the women who work the poles at Satin Dolls down the road from the Tick Tock in Lodi, but it beats working by a mile. Every day is a caper, and most reporters are attention-deprived adrenaline junkies who care only for the next story. Journalists are like cops, hugging the job close and savoring the rest of their life as they can.
The skills of finding out what is not known and rendering it in comprehensible ways has practical value in other parts of the economy, but the thrill of this thing of ours is not a moveable feast. The difference between a reporting job and other jobs is the difference between working for The Man and being The Man, a legend, at least, in your own mind.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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.