Monday, September 14, 2009

You Cannot Be Serious!!!!

Whatever happened to notions like civility, decorum, self control, keeping it to yourself if "it" isn't very pleasant? In recent days we've had several public displays from people acting as if they didn't know no better when of course they did. Rep. Joe Wilson got the ball rolling by shouting out "you lie" when the President of the United States was speaking during Obama’s address to Congress. Since then he has offered a mild apology, refused to repeat it, and has yet to acknowlege that in addition to being obnoxious and incredibly disrespectful to the office of president in general and President Obama specifically, he was also dead wrong because nothing untruthful was being said.

The kindest thing I can think to say about Wilson is that at least he kept his rude language clean. This certainly can't be said of Serena Williams who lit into a line judge for calling a foot fault on her during a critical point of her semifinal match at the US Open versus Kim Clijisters. It was an awful call at a terrible time. The match should have been decided by the players, not an official. Serena Williams deserved to be allowed to fight to the last point to defend her title, as did Kim Clijisters. They, along with the fans, were robbed of match point taking place on court with the ball in play because of what I consider to be unprofessional and very unnecessary interference. But none of this excuses the response that followed from Serena. She visibly took a moment to collect herself, but instead of using it cool down apparently employed it to decide she'd rather make her point than continue fighting for the match. So she proceeded to berate the line judge using far harsher language than the patented "you cannot be serious". It would not be a far stretch to categorize her reaction as threatening, although by the time she was informed that an additional point and therefore the match was being given to her opponent as result of her unsportsmanlike conduct, she seemed resigned to the outcome. In the press conference afterward all traces of anger were gone, but this did little to erase the image of Serena's outburst. As a professional athlete she is a role model for kids whether she wishes to be or not. As a prominent African American athlete in a sport which doesn't feature a great many of them, I feels she bears a little extra responsibility to present herself with class and composure, win or lose. Extra magnification of her behavior may not be particularly fair, but I don't see it as asking for that much either. It's not as if professional athletes aren't compensated well enough to require some decorum. She can continue to be emotional and fiery. If she wants to remain dismissive of the efforts of her competition, chalking up losses to bad play on her part rather than good play on theirs, so be it. But she should be able to express her frustration with words that are acceptable to say in front of your church. Raise the volume if you must, pace and stomp if necessary, but keep the content of your rebuttal clean.

Like Rep. Joe Wilson, Serena Williams got caught up in the heat of a moment. I don't feel the same can be said for Kanye West. Was it surprising that Taylor Swift won an award for best video by a female artist rather than Beyonce? Perhaps. Highway robbery? Maybe, although the matter is subjective and by definition a matter of opinion, not fact. Was it necessary to jump onstage during the girl's moment to express this thought? Absolutely not. Perhaps Kanye has impulse control problems, or maybe he has a compulsive need to draw attention to himself whenever the spotlight happens to be directed elsewhere. Regardless, I can see getting overheated over the subject of healthcare, or on the battlefront when contending for a Major tennis championship. But to act like an ass over the chosen winner of a video award in a category you're not even nominated in is inexcusable. There are more entertaining and dignified ways to be the squeaky wheel.

Those are my opinions on these matters. I won't be budging from them anytime soon. What do you think?

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