The death of civility

So for you scoring at home: in a span of five days, in three different fields, we’ve seen the death of civility in all its glory.

Entertainment: At the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West barged onstage at Radio City Music Hall, took the mic out of the hands of a stunned Taylor Swift, and basically said Beyonce should have won! Perhaps West had an excuse: He was seen guzzling a bottle of cognac in front of TV cameras earlier in the evening.

In sports: At the U.S. Open, Serena Williams berated a lineswoman in words that could make John McEnroe blush! She might have had an excuse: the defending champ was about to be bounced off center court.

But the winner comes from politics: Joe Wilson, Congressman from South Carolina. Wilson barked, "You lie!" at President Barack Obama, in the middle of a joint session of Congress. His excuse seems the thinnest: He was caught "in the moment" and got carried away. He suddenly forgot he was in Congress, and channeled the blue seats at a Ranger game. Sure, happens all the time – in the second grade! Wilson said he "was asked" by the Republican leadership to apologize. They made him do it! And then on his web site insists he will not "be muzzled!" Muzzled? You mean being told to act like a grown-up makes you feel muzzled? You had more to say? Maybe with words that had more than one syllable? Geez, now I can’t wait for the State of the Union!

South Carolina historically seems to have a shortage of southern gentlemen. In 1856, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks walked into the Senate chamber and beat Massachusettes abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner with a cane. More recently the state has produced the nation’s chief cad, Governor Mark ("Appalachian Trail") Sanford, but he only beat himself!

There are those who believe that the President should not be treated as a king, and should be challenged. But let’s not turn Congress into the British or Taiwanese Parliament with a southern accent. Joe Wilson is fast becoming the darling of the hard right. And more importantly to him, he says he’s raised $1 million since shouting down the President!

Only a day earlier President Obama lectured school kids about what it takes to be a success: work hard, do the right thing, respect others. It’s pretty clear that Serena Williams and Kanye West and Joe Wilson missed the speech. Kanye did apologize on Jay Leno, and appears to be genuinely sorry. Serena is not quite as sorry, since it took her two days to say the word in public. And what about Joe? Well, the cash is flowing in, and he has now proven that, in this country, and for Joe Wilson, sadly, mouthing off pays off.

President Obama was heard calling Kanye a "jackass.” We can only imagine what he had to say in private about the "distinguished gentleman" from South Carolina!

Dick Brennan: Dbfox5news@aol.com


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