Miss Manners, Where Are You?

Image courtesy Datelinenews.org

I’ve been noodling around with this piece for over a week, haggling with myself over what angle to take, when Providence (not R.I.) pummeled me with the story of the kids right here in Greece, NY who relentlessly, savagely, and ruthlessly bullied their school bus monitor, 68 year old Karen Klein. Captured on video by one of their gang, these kids were 7th and 8th graders – old enough to know better, old enough to have been taught some manner by their parents, and old enough to bear significant consequences for their actions. Parents? I heard a report, though I cannot find the source, that one  parent thought the whole thing was blown out of proportion.  Are you kidding me??? This morning on Today, Matt Lauer said he wished he could say the names of these bullies right there on national television, which, of course, is not (unfortunately) possible.

In my early-week noodles, I wrote this:  “Okay, I admit it. I’m of the older (and wiser) generation dubbed Baby Boomer. I am proud to wear the label thusly. I am especially proud because I grew up in an age where manners and gracious behavior were taught, practiced and observed with MUCH more frequency than they seem to be today.”

What I really wanted to say when I wrote that was that kids today have neither the manners nor respect that any infractions thereof in “ancient” (our) time would have resulted in dire consequences. But see, I didn’t write this because I felt like an old judgmental frump, worried about losing my clout of voice amid a mass of poorly mannered young boobs.

Okay. The fact is that not every kid bullies or has poor manners. Many are socially adept, respectful, and comparatively mature. Kudos to you kids, and may you be on thresholds of great success. Perhaps the issue is that the poor mannered ones are louder and more evident that their gracious counterparts. On the other hand, and sadly, perhaps there are just indeed more of them.

So when every news medium in the country blasted this story, and when a global collection to send Mrs. Klein on a “little” vacation reached over $100,000 in a single day (it’s not over $200,000), I knew I had my angle all along: manners are a dying breed, outrageous behavior (bullying and unspeakable rudeness) is alive and thriving. I also knew that beau coup people of all ages are sick and tired of a generation that simply doesn’t give a rats ass about inflicting pain on other people. I knew, therefore, I am not alone.

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