grumpy old man.

I’m about to sound like a grumpy old man. I’m aware of it and I own it because, in this regard, I think I’m more correct than not.

You may have heard about the three young women who were kicked out of a Philadelphia shopping mall this week for refusing to remove hats they were wearing containing the phrase “Fu*k Cancer,” (the ‘c’ in fuck was replaced by a pink ribbon). Mall officials said the issue was the profane statement on the hats.

Zakia Clark and her sisters refuted, correctly pointing out several retailers at the King of Prussia Mall openly sell shirts and garments emblazoned with profanities. That’s a very good point. If it’s okay to sell it, why is it not okay for shoppers to wear it?

But my “grumpy old man” rant has nothing really to do with this injustice, perceived or otherwise. It has to do with the coarsening of society. I’m hardly a prude. I’ll laugh at a dirty joke as quickly as I’ll tell one. But we seem to have no sense of boundary any longer in polite society. I’ve noticed this erosion over the past 10 – 15 years and it’s very disappointing.

We seem to have switched to a “me first” mentality instead of empathy and respect or those around us. It’s not just profanity. The most common abuses occur when a person has a cell phone in public. Everywhere has become the appropriate place for a phone call—in the queue at a store, in the restaurant dining room, in a public restroom. I don’t blame the phone. I blame the person.

When did manners and politeness become elective? When did loud, boorish behavior become the acceptable norm? And who taught people that was okay?

We live in a time when people have an inflated sense of entitlement and self importance. I am not speaking to any sort of political ideology, so strip that from your thinking for a moment. I’m speaking directly to behaviors observed. It’s the “I can do what I want” mentality that leads people to believe it’s perfectly okay to be as profane, as obnoxious and as self centered as possible with little consequence.

Think about this the next time you go to a ballpark. It’s gotten so out of hand that stadium officials have implemented a number you can text during the game to report offensive behavior. It makes you wonder who are the parents of these people, which reminds me of a story.

A few years ago I was exiting the RCA Dome after a particularly disappointing playoff defeat for the Colts. Fans in the concourse were, as you can imagine, dejected and upset. Many were acting out, shouting their expletive-laden tirades at whomever would listen, with little regard for the little kids in the concourse. I spoke up, telling them to calm down and keep their voices down. A nearby father thanked me for thinking of his young son who was by his side.

And then he jumped into the chorus with an expletive-laden tirade of his own.

I give up.


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