Celebrity Deathmatch: Miss Manners vs. Emily Post
Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to live in a country with Free Speech. People can say whatever they want, and I'll support their right to say it. But, would it be too much to ask that they think before they speak, and spare a thought for those they might offend? I try to teach this in my classes - yes, boys and girls, not only is what you say important, it's how and when you say it that gets the message across.
I have one student who just personified this appalling decline in manners. Let me set the scene for you: Early September, new teacher, new students, everyone dressed in the school uniform dress code (khakis, collared shirt). One student in particular stands out, as no one can really tell if this student is a boy or a girl. Seriously. See, this student would make a cute girl, or a heart-rendingly beautiful boy: big blue eyes, impossibly long eyelashes, flowing shoulder-lenghth golden hair, clear skin, rosy cheeks, and ruby-red mouth devoid of cosmetics. To make matters worse, the student has a name that works for either gender. Even I'm not sure of the cherub's gender. I had planned on visiting the nurse to check the student's emergency card for gender when the incident occurred.
It's obvious that the other students are puzzling over this student, when one just asks "Hey, kid, are you a boy or a girl?" The class was divided in reaction - half were staring at RudeGirl, openmouthed with shock (as was I), and half were laughing like loons. Obviously, I shut her down, but the damage had been done. The poor student flushed and mumbled "I'm a boy" and everyone settled down. I was heartsick for the poor boy to be called out in front of the class like that.
It seems that middle-school students are not the only ones lacking in manners. My friend Dave sent me a story from the LA Times about a juror who was taken to task for yawning loudly during the juror selection process. This juror then, without apology, told the judge that he was bored. The judge held this man in contempt and fined him $1000 (later reduced to $100) for the offense. If you don't think yawning loudly is an offense, you should hear Dave yawn. I could hear him clearly through a concrete & cinderblock wall every school day for 4 years.
This is clearly my personal opinion, but I think that it's time for everyone to take a course in manners and etiquette. Yes, even tactless me thinks it's time for everyone to learn basic courtesy, elementary etiquette, and common decency. You can tell me your opinion, too. I promise I won't laugh in your face. After all, that would be rude.