Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shut up and don't interrupt me

I'm sure we have heard all the Kanye West/Taylor Swift news, so I won't bother to go into it any further.

It seems interesting to me this trend as of late (well, it's been going on a long time, but just seems worse) of people feeling that their own opinion trumps any kind of civility, manners, consideration and calm, adult discourse. We've seen it in the town hall meetings and we've seen it in our own congress. After the Kanye West interruption the other night, a funny video popped up that, to me, puts the Joe Wilson interruption in the rude light it should:



Of course the Rightwing has made a hero out of Wilson's outburst, but it makes me think back to something I read years ago that put our culture of rude "me first, in-your-face" lack of consideration, shout-down, interrupting "conversation" into a different light than what I had always taken for granted as "civil". I read something Ben Franklin wrote called "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America" wherein he pointed out how our culture is viewed by other cultures, in that particular case the Indians who the white man considered "savages". In one part of it he points out the difference in our way of public discourse:

"Having frequent occasions to hold public councils, they have acquired great order and decency in conducting them. ... He that would speak, rises. The rest observe a profound silence. When he has finished and sits down, they leave him 5 or 6 minutes to recollect, that, if he has omitted anything he intended to say, or has anything to add, he may rise again and deliver it. To interrupt another, even in common conversation, is reckoned highly indecent. How different this from the conduct of a polite British House of Commons, where scarce a day passes without some confusion, that makes the speaker hoarse in calling to order; and how different from the mode of conversation in many polite companies of Europe, where, if you do not deliver your sentence with great rapidity, you are cut off in the middle of it by the impatient loquacity of those you converse with, and never suffered to finish it."

It's little wonder that the Indians saw us, despite our superior technology, as the rude savages.

And never... NEVER... would an Indian at one of their councils stand up and shout "You lie!"


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