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Bad manners live in the barnyard

September 19, 2009

This has not been a good week for manners.

While watching President Obama on TV deliver his speech and rationale as to why we should support health care reform in our country, I couldn't believe my ears when I heard a loud "You lie" come from the Republican section of Congress during this session.

Whether you acknowledge or not that many politicians happen to lie on occasion, the fact that one politician would point out another politician's swaying of the truth in open Congress in front of millions of people was somewhat startling. I actually couldn't believe my ears.

"Regardless of party, can't we demonstrate a little respect for the president," I urged out loud. "Didn't your parents teach you any manners?" I yelled into the TV.

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After concluding that bad manners must surely exist in Congress, I decided not to watch any more political speeches that week.

I own the remote (most of the time) and can change the channel, so I exercised my prerogative.

Later in the week, I thought I would watch some tennis. Things were going well in regard to manners until I got to the match between Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. Serena then went on a rampage and was overheard using a couple of expletives I hadn't heard much since my prison days to express her displeasure over an umpire's call.

Roger Federer even got into the foray in his match when he also openly and testily challenged a call.

Don't we have any manners left at all?

I turned off the tennis matches and said enough is enough.

As I pondered the issue of manners, I remembered a quote of Mark Twain when he said, "There is a good side and a bad side to most people, and in accordance with your own character and disposition you will bring out one of them and the other will remain a sealed book to you."

Apparently, people are more inclined these days to display the bad side of their character instead of the good side.

Well, enough tennis and bad manners for me for one week.

I'm going to enjoy some TV and watch some good manners somewhere. I kept changing the channels. Ah, how about some music?

I thought I would switch to the MTV Video Music Awards. Wait a minute, there is Taylor Swift receiving an award for Best Female Video, but who is that grabbing the microphone out of her hand. That's Kanye West ... what's he doing there?

After a few seconds, I soon discovered that he didn't agree with the decision to give Swift the award, grabbed her microphone, and told the audience that Beyonce's video was much better and she should have gotten the award.

What? Can't I find a channel where there might be a few good manners on display?

Not long after the West fiasco, President Obama put things in perspective when he reportedly said "that Kanye West is a jackass" for his behavior during the MTV awards.

There I feel much better now. The president has placed things in clear perspective.

People who display bad manners, indeed, act like jackasses. If the shoe fits, wear it, I concluded.

In closing, I think it might be a good idea to have someone write an essay on the "disappearance of manners." Just maybe it will make us think a little and become more civil in our behavior.

It is pretty obvious to me that bad manners seem to bring out the worst in people. It is truly barnyard behavior.

Maybe Twain had it summed up best when he concluded, "It is a mistake that there is no bath that will cure people's manners. But drowning would help."

Next time you want to exhibit bad manners, give some thought to the comments of Mark Twain ... and the animal you most likely resemble.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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