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Radical Civility Progress Report

RadicalCivility.jpgWell, it's the end of Week One of my Radical Civility campaign. What can we say? Has the world changed? Have rude people suddenly been transformed from Goofus into Gallant?

Probably not. But it's early days yet. Rome wasn't built in a day and we won't stamp out movie texting in just a week. Today I want to do address a few reader comments:

Roberta Dolores Gregor of McLean took exception to the movement's logo:

Your logo, while addressing civility is in itself lacking. One does not eat, drink or smoke with gloves on. Black or white, or pink! You may shake hands with them on, but generally a man takes his off for that purpose. With 18 button gloves we would pull the hand part down, tuck it into itself and eat your dinner in that manner. Or, remove them entirely, very slowly, an art in itself! As you can see I am a fossil, but it is more than past time to go backward in that direction. Forward is not so pretty.

I agree that gloves--like hats--have their own rules, but the Radical Civility logo is like a coat of arms, chock full of symbolism that I hope transcends the mundane worry over when and how to wear gloves. If I may: The china tea cup denotes gentility. The black glove is not of the sort worn by a gentleman while he drives a four-in-hand or strolls along the boulevard. It is the sort of glove worn by a hitman, say Robert Shaw in "From Russia With Love." It is meant to convey a bit of muscle behind the dainty tea cup. Here is the logo as reproduced by a top Washington photographer:


The news that I'm Twittering about Radical Civility (@radicalcivility) prompted Silver Spring's Hetty Lipscomb to wonder "But doesn't Twitter undermine civility?"

A very good question. I am platform neutral and technology agnostic. I believe that Twitter is not itself evil, just as a cellphone or a Blackberry (or a watch with a garotte) aren't evil. It's what you do with them--and when--that has the potential for evil. Twitter in the lobby of the theater and you're not disturbing anyone. Twitter during the movie and I'll want to pull out my garotte watch.

So too might Broadway diva Patti LuPone. She stopped a recent performance in Las Vegas to dress down an audience member who was texting. She reportedly said: "The thing is, the people who text, they don't seem to understand that we can see you. If you really need to do that, why don't you just leave?"

Hurray for Patti. I'm thinking of making her the official Broadway diva of the Radical Civility movement.

Do you have suggestions on how to keep the momentum going? Feel free to leave a comment below.

By John Kelly  |  June 26, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Radical Civility  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Random Acts of Rudeness
Next: Radical Civility Works! A Report From the Front


Quoting John: "I am platform neutral and technology agnostic. I believe that Twitter is not itself evil, just as a cellphone or a Blackberry (or a watch with a garotte) aren't evil. It's what you do with them--and when--that has the potential for evil."

So, inanimate objects are not evil. How does this reconcile with your stance that handguns and semi-automatic rifles (what you mistakenly call assault rifles) are evil?


Posted by: DLDx | June 26, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm ready to discuss the "civility" issue, John...if you are.

Posted by: jackbattlecreek | June 26, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I was expecting you to quote some famous etiquite experts....PATTY LUPONE? I bet she's a sweetheart! We should all take a step back and listen to Patty's advice.

Posted by: jackbattlecreek | June 26, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

OK John...Nothing seems to be happening here....this is a "campaign"?

Posted by: jackbattlecreek | June 26, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I guess I mis-understood the instructions and now I am "barking at the moon."

Best regards....

Posted by: jackbattlecreek | June 26, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts on the Patti Lupone incident in New York. It was reported that the person was an accredited photojournalist. However, as a theater reviewer, I can say that this is still not acceptable. When we write reviews, the show's publicity department sends us approved photos to post or print with our reviews. If you are a professional photojournalist that has an agreement with the theater, the cast and crew would be informed, you would have strict regulations about what you can and can't do (most likely including no flash photography). Most of this is usually done on a dress rehearsal or preview showing run and would *NOT* be done on the penultimate night performance of a run. Personally, I think that if this person's employer ever found out about this incident, that photojournalist could have lost his job over the incident. Then it would be more than just rudeness, but it would also be professionally incompetent.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | June 26, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Old folks at our Senior Center are notorious. First, they don't realize their phone is ringing. Then they can't find it in their purse. When they finally locate it, they answer aloud in the middle of a lecture or film.

Posted by: OldLady1 | June 26, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

When I commuted to work on the MARC trains (I'm now retired), and someone would start a loud conversation on their cell phone, I ignored it at first.

As the days and weeks rolled on, though, the rudeness became a bit too much to continue to tolerate.

Eventually I hit on a plan - I'd try to move to the seat directly in front or (preferably) in back of the offender, pull out my cell phone, then talk into it with enough volume that the offender could clearly hear me - using five words over and over and over.

The words? Those infamous Verizon ads - "Do you hear me now?".

Usually did the trick in a few minutes, sometimes seconds.

Sometimes the offender would try to get my attention by stating (actually loudly stating) "Do you mind?". If they did that, I would just ignore and continue with the "Do you hear me now?"

Many times I got a 'thank you' from other passengers, sometimes immediately, sometimes after the offender left the car/train.

Posted by: critter69 | June 27, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

To critter68 - I love what you did. I wish I had been there to witness it for myself.

Posted by: spg2dd | June 27, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Or how about this one?

"Can you repeat that? The guy in front of me is talking so loud that I can't hear you."

Posted by: cmecyclist | June 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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