A Crisis Of Civility

Exploring the horrific death of Long Island Wal-Mart employee Jdimytai Damour, Kirsten Powers writes, “Incivility isn’t just accepted these days–from celebrity news to TV shows–it’s glorified:”


Last week, the Oxygen Network debuted the third season of “The Bad Girls Club” – like seemingly all reality shows, a toxic celebration of rude, mentally unbalanced people shrieking at each other.

Oxygen’s Web site features a section hailing these “Destructive Divas”: “From home break-ins to club toss-outs, these girls are bad. The girls get kicked out of three clubs – all in the premier episode!”

The show is the most-watched Oxygen original series ever.

One “bad girl” brags on the premiere: “I like to push people’s buttons. I have jealousy issues, I’m very rude, conniving, and opinionated . . . I’m just a bad person to know. If someone was picking on me because I was, like, a cute blonde girl, my first instinct would be to tell them they are ugly.”

I would plow over someone at a Wal-Mart to get my hands on discounted lip gloss.

P.M. Forni co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project in 1997, and has rung the alarm bells on the collapse of civility. While Americans still have manners, he says, we’ve lost “the manners of past generations.”

Big deal, some will say – those “manners” are just outdated customs. No, Forni argues in his book “Choosing Civility”: They’re the glue that holds society together.


Compare Long Island 2008 with Manhattan in 1939.

(Found via Kathy Shaidle, who has some thoughts on both Powers’ essay and the misremembered legend of Kitty Genovese. For my own recent video look at anger in America, click here.)


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