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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


April 13, 2012

The Furor of Free Speech and Good Manners

Harry M. Covert

In a day and age when lots of people wear their feelings on their sleeves, is it possible the American society has become a bit too soft?

 

Really, now, in a country where freedom of speech is holy, as it should be, isn't it time to begin teaching good manners, beginning with the children in public schools, and for adults who go looking for reasons to be insulted?

 

In days past, before the term bully or bullies became a cause célèbre, neighborhood playmates would recite "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Of course, that's not true because words do hurt. The proliferation of social media, cable radio and television, and newspapers has brought attention to silliness and things that were never discussed in the public prints.

 

A Virginia politician lost his U.S. Senate seat because he referred to an opponent's worker as "macaca." His opposition, with the press leading the way, couldn't resist insisting the phrase was a racial term and an insult. One reporter ambushed the same campaigner at a public luncheon, and asked on camera if he knew his mother was Jewish. The startled senator didn't know and replied as such. Hogwash and poppycock on both accounts.

 

Marion Barry, the Washington politician, said a few days ago that "Asian" businesses should be run out of his Eighth Ward district. Of course, former Mayor Barry apologized. There wasn't a great deal of criticism for him. This man is a disgrace to good politicians and public service. The feds have had him in custody and under investigations many times. Seems like they are getting tired of arresting him.

 

Then there's the Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, fired after four years. The million-dollar coach is married with four sons, and had an 'inappropriate relationship.' This all came in the wake of his motorcycle accident with a companion. He finally admitted to an 'inappropriate relationship' with a 25-year-old woman whom he had hired in the football office. He even gave her $20,000 from his own funds and asked the State Police not to report the accident or name his girlfriend.

 

Such low class and no morality. The lack of both seems to be haunting collegiate sports, at all levels. Imagine, football and basketball coaches in the millionaire classes.

 

Now, while the governing body of college athletics attempt to clean up its billion-dollar annual revenues, it would do well to start teaching manners, personal character and similar things while they prepare the coaches and the players for unbelievable paydays in the professional leagues.

 

A college president's wife was called upon to teach an etiquette class to incoming freshman athletes. Talk about a tough job, she could barely get them to say "Thank you, no thank you or please."

 

The free speech business is absolutely protected; but sometimes common sense should tell people to not always speak verbally when thinking aloud.

 

Several sports figures come to mind and these well-paid figures don't have brain one and get away with the most insulting and stupid things. Recently, we heard about the verbose, profane Miami Marlins baseball manager who caused a furor among the Cuban community saying "I love Castro" in a national magazine. How dumb can a guy get in Florida? If Cuba had astronauts, would they be called Castronauts? Okay, that was funny in the 1960s.

 

This is remindful, too, of the college-educated coach yelling at his team at halftime: "You guys are just dum (sic) and you spell that, d - u - m." It's a true story.

 

One of the best collegiate basketball referees was ready to officiate a big rivalry in North Carolina recently. Three former players, known for their baiting of officials, were taking their seats, and started making their snide remarks to the official, whom they knew. To avoid any problem, they were kicked out of the game. The official was castigated, but he did the right thing.

 

The idea is: its okay to insult anyone and everyone and anytime. The cantor now seems to be: "It's easier to ask forgiveness than ask for permission." That sounds good, too, and works a great deal of time and the insultees still seeth and cry foul until someone else is insulted.

 



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