It’s sorry enough that so many public figures are making fools of themselves with bad behavior. Every bit as unacceptable is that people in positions of responsibility are so reluctant or afraid to put these wayfarers in their place. At least the U.S. House of Representatives has bucked this trend in the Joe Wilson case.
Take the case of Serena Williams, perhaps the best tennis player in the world and the darling of many sports fans. She had temper tantrums at the recent U.S. Open tournament in New York and drew two censures that were a factor in her losing a semifinal match she might have won.
First off, Williams slammed her racket after she disappointed herself, and that drew an official rebuff. That was mild compared to the menacing demeanor and blue language she used later when an official called a foot fault that ensured her defeat. The furious Serena, clearly not the dear, sweet soul some think she is, used the f-word at least three times in approaching a female official and threatened to shove the ball down the official’s throat.
Such behavior should have erased Williams from the premises, right there. To be sure, she drew a $10,500 fine, a drop in the bucket considering her earning power, and got a little flak. But next thing we know she’s back in good standing and teaming with sister Venus to win the female doubles title and more adoration from a doting crowd. Serena never should have been allowed to continue competing in the tournament.
We have to blame the U.S. Open people for being too timid. Their decisions did not reflect favorably about the guidance tennis is supposed to have. Later, of course, Roger Federer got profane in his male singles title match and also needed to be censured. But would he even have let himself get carried away if Serena Williams had been kicked off the premises?
During an address to Congress, President Barack Obama was branded as a liar by a Republican loudmouth who later apologized but who drew surprising support from some corners. Too much has been made of this. The legislator apologized but the break in decorum was bad enough that the U.S. House formally rebuked him. That is uncharacteristic of how Congress people tend to take good care of their own, and it was a welcome and refreshing turn of events for many.
Then there was the incident where entertainer Kanye West, who apparently had been drinking heavily, leaped onto the stage during an awards presentation, and made it clear he felt somebody other than the young woman being honored on stage should have won the award instead. He, too, apologized, but he merits heavier censure from people in his own field instead of the “boys will boys” acceptance he got from so many. This kind of outburst is totally unacceptable.
During an off-camera moment, President Obama is reported to have called West a “jackass.” Good for Obama. That’s exactly how West behaved in this instance. And the president should not apologize because his evaluation was accurate.
We can expect more boorish muckerism until the reactions to such are so definitive that people are not encouraged to keep indulging in it.
At least members of Congress had the good sense to slap down Joe Wilson, something he fully deserved despite his prompt apology.