And now their parents may be taking a lesson from their children.
But for different reasons that lie at different ends of a spectrum.
At one end, we see that children are uncivil to each other because it is widely viewed as “being cool.”
At the other end we see two-year olds being uncivil to their parents in erupting in a temper tantrum simply in order to get some attention.
Where do we adults find ourselves in this spectrum? Unfortunately right around the latter, with the two-year olds.
Where adult incivility all began is up for debate, but where it became most apparent to me was during the town hall meetings of August, something that I have labeled the Angst of August. It was there that we saw the first obvious cases of adults behaving childishly.
Shouting down opposition.
Making wild false charges that they know to be inaccurate (this used to be called lying).
In the end, this was not to make a political point. Not to control the message. It was to get attention to your side.
To get the attention of the media.
And boy, oh boy did that ever work.
It worked so well that Congressman Joe Wilson (R – Racist Redneck) is now famous, and some would say infamous, for shouting “You lie” at his president as he was addressing a joint session of congress. He got hundreds of inches of press. He got to twitter about it and be quoted on TV over and over again. He got to be interviewed on Fixed News.
And he got a million dollars from racist rednecks from coast to coast.
Lesson: incivility succeeds.
So despite the House resolution to “disapprove” Joe Wilson’s action, a resolution that we now see got all Democratic congressmen to vote for it, less 12, and all Republicans to vote against it, less 7, Joe Wilson escapes virtually unscathed with a resolution of rebuke towards him falling very nearly along party lines.
And with all of that money, and all of that press.
Want more evidence that incivility is becoming the rule rather than the exception in our society?
What about the rapper Kanye West who interrupted the acceptance speech of Country singer Tanya Swift at the VMA awards the other night? This uncivil man dismissed the winner’s victory as a lie without using the “L” word. The lie being that “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Yes, he later apologized, but the apology was somewhat self-aggrandizing with him comparing himself to Ben Stiller’s character in Meet the Parents. Excuse me, but Ben Stiller’s character was always well-meaning and his actions constantly misinterpreted. This was not the case with West’s uncivil behavior. West was being a dirtbag and no one misinterpreted his meaning.
But guess what? Kanye West got to be on Jay Leno’s new comedy show because of his uncivil behavior.
He got some attention, just like a two-year old would in a temper tantrum.
What about tennis star Serena Williams? She took umbrage at a line judge’s call and laid into her with massive usage of that very bad word (fortunately you can’t really hear it in the clip I link to). Williams behaved badly and got lots of media coverage for it.
Perhaps she will get to do an AMEX commercial after she retires just like John McEnroe did.
Incivility succeeds. Incivility sells.
Incivility, I fear, is here to stay unless we ignore these media-greedy jerkwads and withhold our approval, our attention, and our dollars from them.