Where are your Manners?

September 12, 2009

I can hear it as clear as a bell in my mind: “Chryssie…where are your manners?”  It was something my mom said to me when I would shovel food in my mouth at the dinner table or when I would accidentally burp out loud after drinking a coke.   She didn’t yell about it, just playfully scolded so I would remember next time to behave more mannerly.   Teaching good manners is something I’ve always tried to be conscious of as I’m raising my daughter.    We are not born knowing how to use a napkin at the table or to chew with our mouths closed.  Gentlemen have to be taught to open a door for a lady, it’s not some innate law of nature knitted deep into the Y chromosome.  

So Wednesday night when President Obama was heckled on national television by a member of Congress during a speech on health care reform I thought,  “That man’s mother obviously didn’t teach him any manners.”   When I learned the heckler was Republican Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, I was shocked.  Southern mothers ALWAYS teach their sons manners.  I can say this with certainty because my family is from the South.  It’s as much a rite of passage as lathering up for their first shave or buying their first corsage for a prom date.   

Click here to hear Joe Wilson's outburst

Click here to hear Joe Wilson's outburst

What could have possibly possessed this man who was elected by the good mannerly people of South Carolina to cast aside all rules of decorum and shout “You lie!” at the President of the United States in the middle of his nationally televised speech?  It’s a rhetorical question; I don’t have an answer but it’s been bothering me since it happened.  

We occasionally run video of lawmakers in other countries who settle their differences by throwing punches or slapping each other.  One time I even saw a man pull off another man’s toupee in frustration.  Whenever I see that I always think “Thank goodness that would never happen in the U.S. Congress.”   That’s why the outburst cut me to the core.  There was something so uncivilized about it.  Something so unmannerly.  Something so un-American.

Congressman Wilson has apologized to the President, and the President has accepted his apology.    But I’ll bet the congressman is dreading going home to see his mama.  You know the first question she’ll ask him: “Son, where are your manners?”

Click here to see Kanye's bad manners at the MTV Awards

Click here to see Kanye's bad manners at the MTV Awards

Serena Williams at the US Open

Serena Williams at the US Open

POSTSCRIPT:  Over the weekend, there were two other horrible examples of bad behavior/bad manners on national television.  Serena Williams at the US Open, and Kanye West at the MTV Video Awards.  I’ll bet their mothers are ashamed too!



  1. But I’ll bet the congressman is dreading going home to see his mama. You know the first question she’ll ask him: “Son, where are your manners?”
    Funny. With the holidays around the corner I think it’s going to be pretty interesting at their dinner table. Our President accepted his apology and even though a mothers love is unconditional we moms still know how to parent our adult children. Chrys, you planted a vision in my head of his mohter saying “son, where are your manners?”. He was in the company of his peers and our President. I know his mama taught him that it’s ok to think, it but don’t say it our loud. LOL.

  2. I think that manners as well as respect are in a sad state not only in American but around the world. I was saddened that an adult in an elected position, regardless of his personal feelings on the issue at hand, would be so rude as to shout at anyone in a public meeting, much less the President of the United States. How do we expect our children and teens to learn to be respectful when we have highly paid elected officials who blatenly show disrespect. This is not a matter of political differences, it is a very basic lack of basic acceptable behavior we would expect at the preschool level.

  3. Ahh, but Joe told the truth.The president was/is ling about the so called reform.Read H.R.3200.The is no written exclusion about abortion,ill legal immigrants.So It could very easily be put in after then bill passes.

  4. Just to be clear: I’m not debating who’s right politically. I’m saying it’s an example of the bad manners people have come to routinely exhibit. I thought it was horrible when Congress booed President Bush, too but I didn’t have a blog then.

  5. I am sorry to say that this incident goes beyond the lack of civility now attendant to today’s political discourse. This incident exposes a bubbling cauldron of racial mistrust, dislike, whatever you care to call it.

    Since the “shot heard ’round the House” was uttered, political pundits have given this issue what will be a radioactive half-life of indeterminate length. Some have even pointed to the elephant in the room; the level of vitriol which has spewed forth since President Obama became a legitimate presidential candidate. This has allowed the fear-mongers to have a field day playing on the fears of the uninformed (and informed!) by not only playing the “he does not know what he is doing” card but also casting aspersions on his veracity. Time was, a man (or woman)’s credibility, the name that you carry was everything. True, we have lost quite a bit of such personal capital in the “situational ethics” era that we have found ourselves in, but at the end of the day, calling a man a liar (especially the “leader of the free world”) is a charge that is damning beyone belief. Memory only serves to one other such publicized incident (Sen. Inouye and his “what a liar” comment during the Watergate hearings), but even THAT was not directed at the Commander-In-Chief).

    This is unfamiliar territory that we all tread: the staunch supporters of President Obama, those on the fence for varying reasons, and those “not in my country” adversaries. We do not know where this is all going to go (and I do not just mean the Health Care debate); people have changed enough to elect an African American president, but is there enough change to let him do his job, make the hard decisions? Please do not take these comments as acquiescence to the proposed health care plan; there are holes in it assuredly. We must just honestly assess (in the room of our own) what motivates our support or opposition to this plan (and to this presidency itself). That assessment might reflect some ugliness within us, but it is necessary for us to be good citizens of this state. Oppose if you must, but just as you know it is wrong to yell “fire!” in a crowded theatre, know it is also wrong to yell “liar!” in a crowded House chamber. Especially with so much at stake.

  6. Ah, I never dreamed my lessons on manners would end up on a blog someday! You learned them well, my girl, and I didn’t even think you were listening! Thanks for doing me proud. 🙂

  7. I wonder if Chrys took her husband aside and talked to him about manners after he was tossed from a game on Memorial Day..there was chest puffing, dirt being kicked, and a lot of shouting. You talk about bad manners, there were kids in the stands who might’ve heard some bad words.

    From Chrys: Jack, I think you’re confused about who my husband is. I’m married to Tom Runnells, bench coach for the Colorado Rockies. He was not thrown out on Memorial Day or any other day this season. (Although he has been tossed from games in the past, he always watches his language because he’s mindful of the youngsters in the stands.) Thanks for reading the blog!

  8. Amen Chrys!
    Perhaps we should teach a course in manners in school and if you don’t pass you don’t graduate. I am getting really tired of the rudeness on the highway where someone always thinks his time is more valuable than everyone else, speeding by you and cutting you off to save themselves a couple of seconds, which they lose at the next light anyway.

  9. I see bad manners almost every day. It’s like we’re living in a society where anything goes. If parents don’t set a good example for their kids, where will we end up. I hold doors open for people who march through as if that was my job – no thank you – nothing. That’s just a small example. It is surprising though that people of notoriety would be so mannerless. What a poor example they set.

  10. I make phone calls to people at their homes as part of my job. I can’t count the number of times a child between the ages of four and thirteen has answered the phone rudely. Everything from, “What?” to “Who the hell are you?” If parents aren’t willing to teach a child how to politely answer the phone, why are they so supprised when they end up in trouble as teens? Teaching self respect and respect for others seems to have gone to the wayside for a lot of parents these days. If we think people are unmannered now, think how bad it is going to be in twenty years when this generation is running things.

  11. I also am appalled at the lack of manners displayed by high profile people. It seems it doesn’t matter to many of them that they are thought of by their fans/constituents as role models. This lack of manners is indeed all around us. For example, my daughter works as a bank teller. She has told me that she has been called “every name in the book” by customers who are dissatified for some reason with the bank. Rather than practicing respect and diplomacy when upset, so many choose to simply explode. I remember staying at the Ritz Carlton some years ago, and I loved their motto: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
    We would all do well when we are upset with others to repeat that motto to ourselves.

  12. Oh I don’t know if the congressman’s protest can be considered more than lack of manners, precisely what Chrys is referring to, Robert, not Watergate-class criminality.

    Anyway, when one is Entitled, one needs no manners. Just move the heck over.

    This sense or nonsense of Entitlement runs through our society. We have, therefore we deserve more, more time, more privilege, more consideration, and most of all, More Attention. We’re so strung out on ourselves we don’t care to think about how we look to others. Because we do live in this Free Country, we need to be that much more grateful for our freedoms, not misuse them.

    Oh I know, we are all A WORK IN PROGRESS. Yep.

    My mom passed away last week. Of course she wasn’t perfect, but she did have class. While everyone else let it fly, my mom would simply and clearly state her thoughts, always timely, always in context; taking into consideration, who the hearer was.

    People simply don’t care what anyone thinks. This is sad.

    On the coach behavior, that was a personal slam on the same level as the bad manners herein referenced. Grow up Jack.

  13. Thanks, Mom! 🙂

  14. Manners? Isnt that learned in the home?
    Since the late 1960’s you can see that manners and morals have taken a huge drop in the USA.
    So has the number of people going to church.
    The old saying is you “learn what you live”.
    And so has the IQ of the country dropped.
    I think it has alot to do with accepting other cultures into our lives and being more liberal in our acceptance of others ways of life.
    I mean have you really ever listened to rap music? And rap isnt the only negative music , you can include most popular music, the simpsons, etc etc. They learn what they live.

  15. I saw the congressman, the tennis player, and the rapper I think they’re a terrible. But It goes far beyond that the other night my son and I were watching a cartoon where it seemed as if every other word had to be bleeped out. You go to a soccer match for five year olds and and parents are cursing at referees. I guess that’s why a vice presidential candidate described herself as being like a pitbull with lip stick.If you watch sports at any level you see coaches yelling and screaming @ referees. How can they teach players respect.When I was a little boy I was lied on by an adult I was punished severely. Not for what she said I did but being disrepectful towards her afterward. After all she was an adult.

  16. Phil…you’re right! It used to be the teacher was always right…the adults were always right…and parents taught their children to take responsibility. Now, parents fight each other, the teacher, and any other adult instead of using it as a teaching experience for their kids. I long for the days when civility and kindness were the norm, not the exception!

  17. Chrys,
    I have had the very rare ocassion of being in the same store as you have been when shopping, and may I say Reily is one of the most well behaved little “Lady” I have seem in many years. My congrats to you and hubby for teaching her proper manners.
    How ever I cannot say the same for others, as it believe their children were raised by those who were taught no manners what so ever.
    Chrys, I cannot say that I am another Julia Childes or John Ashton as I have been rude at times as has many others I am sure. BUT, when you are in a store and someone elses kids are running all over breaking things and even stealing things and their parents and others wonder why the costs are so high maybe the should think of one of the many reasons why.
    This ordeal with the Gentleman for South Carolina I do agree was rude, and that I am saying from a Republicans point of view. If he was going to make an open comment he should waited until Obama was done THAN made his comment with an explaination.
    I as a tax payer do not like Obama but mine are personal reasons no political and I keep my comments to myself and those family and friends that share the same feeling as I.
    Several years ago I was in a store in Cleveland and one of my children made a remark to a lady…..”daddy that lady is fat”, John was only 5 or 6 I told him that was bad manners. The lady made a comment about me raising my children to keep their mouths shut in public. I made John apologize to her for his comment of which he did than made he apologize to us as her kids 6 of them were running all over the plae one kicked a lady and she was to interested in the mannerism of my children. We paid for our idems and left with her still running her mouth. 16 years later to the best of my knowledge she is still complaining.
    I now have 23 grand children and 9 great grand children and NONE have bad manners.
    Swatting a kid on the sit down place is ok al long as you follow it with a rwason why they got the swat. Beating a kid??????? Lets put it this way I reported my best friend to the police AND testified against him for “spanking” his child…..the child was hospitalized with bruises. He has not spoken to me for the last 6 years. His wife is no longer on the scene.

  18. Thank you for the compliment, Murry!

  19. I just read the comment from Murry and not to change the subject but just curious, he said his dislike for president Obama was “personal and not political”. Murry do you know the president personally? Did you attend the same college’s of higher learning? Did you grow up in or live in the same neighborhood? If your answer is no to any of these questions then please tell us your reason for your “personal” dislike for President Obama?

  20. Sorry Chrys for using your blod to teach someone some manners on asking questions in other peoples blogs but he opened the door for my comment about proper manners of individuals…..but….

    Bill, you are a prime example of Manners.

    Apparently you have no manners but not to mention thay you cannot read as well. So, for the sake of your question about Obama please allow me to refresh your mind…..”I as a tax payer do not like Obama but mine are personal reasons no political and I keep my comments to myself and those family and friends that share the same feeling as I.”…..I have personal reasons for not liking this man, and it is not up to you to pry your nose into my personal affairs.
    Maybe someday when you grow up and become a big boy I will explain my reasons…..until than could you please not be so arrogant and nosy?

  21. Okay, boys…you’ve both had your say. I won’t approve any more tit-for-tat. 🙂

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