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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at




 Lack of Manners Once Had Consequences

All right, boys and girls, here’s a little pop quiz. Today’s question is:

Are we Americans getting ruder?

Select your answer from the following:

       A.  &*@! yes.

       B.  &*@! yes you moron.

       C.  &*@! yes you #$@@&^%* moron.

       D.  Maybe.

Actually, I think I’ll go with:

       E.  Are you kidding? Where have you been? This has been going on for YEARS, and it’s getting worse all the time.

The real question, of course, is how things came to such a pretty pass. Like most of what’s wrong in the world, I think it starts with people who think the sun shines out of their … I mean, revolves around them.

In this country, they’re the ones who cut into lines, interrupt other people’s transactions, drive like maniacs, treat customers like annoyances, treat clerks and waiters like servants … you get the drift. (We’re lucky. In other countries those are the nice folks.)

And it goes further. People shout at each other an awful lot these days, and I don’t just mean on what used to be called talk shows or at professional sports. Go to a kid’s soccer game, a library board meeting, a shopping mall parking lot, the end of my block. There’s a good chance you’ll find some high-volume invective flying around. And it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. These days, he who shouts loudest wins the argument.

Why? We can blame all the usual suspects, of course – the Internet, TV, talk radio, the playground, and that loudmouth guy at work – but I see something else at work here. To an increasing number of people, manners simply don’t matter anymore.

Manners, as it was explained to me at length by my mother, are the outward expression of one’s respect for others.

Well, there you have it. This is a me-first, I’m-gonna-get-mine, agree-or-be-ridiculed world. In a situation like that, there IS no respect for others and therefore, no need for manners.

Next time you’re out to eat in a “family” type restaurant, take a look around to see how many men are dining with baseball caps on their heads. Now, to my mind, that’s rude. In fact, wearing a hat indoors is rude in itself. But while eating? The way I was raised, to wear a baseball cap and eat OUTDOORS would be a serious infraction. Indoors would simply beyond the pale.

Whenever I see this I just shake my (hatless) head in dismay.

And in the spirit of honesty I’ll add that one of the more serious violators of this edict is my own brother, who wears a hat indoors and out and at table. I sometimes wonder how it was that we were raised in the same home by such different mothers.

My mother also explained that the lack of manners had consequences. In my case, the price of bad manners was disappointing my grandparents. I cannot begin to tell you how effective that was. I wasn’t all that concerned about disappointing my parents – in fact, I was kind of used to it – but the idea of disappointing Grandma and Grandpa still gives me a pang of shame.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe we’re getting ruder because we are losing the idea of shame. After all, in a win-at-all-costs America now, and shame is for losers.

If that’s the case, shame on us.




© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.