Questions of Civility, and More
Kanye West, left, at the MTV Music Video Awards. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) on the floor of the House of Representatives on Sept. 9, 2009.

Kanye West, left, at the MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. Right: Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) on the floor of the House of Representatives on Sept. 9, 2009. (AP photos)

American public life has always had its rough edges. But lately, they seem rough all over:

In town-hall flip-outs and the shout of “You lie!” from the floor of Congress. In Serena Williams’s tennis tirade, Roger Federer’s angry oath, Kanye West’s limelight rudeness, go-back-to-Africa posters on Capitol Hill.

Jimmy Carter now says loud and plain that the coarsening of American politics right now is racism, straight up. He may be right. And the coarsening may be even wider than that.

This hour, On Point: Americans behaving badly. What is going on?

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


From Washington, we’re joined by Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist with the Washington Post’s Writers Group. A Republican, she has taken heat in the past for criticizing some of the more extreme language coming from her own part.  Her column today is headlined “Injury in the Insults.” 

Also joining us from Washington is Kevin Blackistone, a national columnist for AOL and former sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News. He also teaches sports journalism at the University of Maryland and is a panelist at on the sports cable channel ESPN.

And from Philadelphia, we’re joined by Camille Paglia. She’s a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, a columnist for, and one of America’s foremost cultural critics.

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