Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Southern Manners On Decline, New York Times Says

Actually the headline reads "Southern Manners On Decline, Some Say," but I fixed it for them.

They start their story off in a metropolitan Atlanta bar, and a dispute between a bartender, two African-American men, and two European-American women. None is specifically identified as being from the South, yet we're told that somehow this matters to the story, as if the simple fact of presence on southern soil imparts southern gentility.

The incursion into the south of transplanted Yankees is mentioned, along with an unwillingness to assimiliate:

Dana Mason, who teaches second grade in Birmingham, says manners have been at the lowest level she has seen in her 36 years in the classroom. Parents who move South tell her they don’t want their children to learn to say “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am.” Too demeaning, they say.

They forecast good manners for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which will be here in Charlotte in September:

The country will have a chance to see Southern civility on display next fall, when Charlotte, N.C., hosts the Democratic National Convention.

Life in Charlotte is not as pleasant as it once was. Like many American cities, it has its share of road rage and rudeness. And although crime rates have dropped, in May the city called out its Civil Emergency Unit and arrested 70 people who rioted two hours after the end of a Nascar event.

But in the best of Southern tradition, the city will try to lead with its manners come September.

“It’ll be all sweet tea and hush puppies,” says Michaele Ballard, a writer and lifelong Southerner.

We'll see. I plan to be out of town on vacation that week so I don't have to deal with it, since I'm a hotel worker.

I'll give the last word to Florence King, who wrote of Southerners in her book With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look At Misanthropy:

South Carolina novelist Blanche McCrary Boyd writes: "Southerners are polite as cattle, except when they're not. When they're not, they might shoot you or chase you around the yard with a hatchet."


wally said...

Bob, I hope your readers take the time to actually read the article. They'll get a different impression of the story than the one you're trying to push.

Bob said...

@wally: That's the joy of having my own blog, Walt. I don't have to push anyone's impression of a story other than my own. And the comments section serves the role of a forum sufficiently to allow dissent.

wally said...

I just wonder how many of your readers take your impression at face value and don't bother going to the source. In this case, at least, that would be an eye-opening exercise.

Bob said...

@wally: *shrugs* It's not as if I have that many of them, anyway.