More of us convinced politics, public talk increasingly rude

Monday, April 25, 2016

If you feel like political discourse has degenerated to the level of a playground argument, you're not alone.

That's especially true in the Republican race, where nothing has been out of bounds, to the appearance of candidates' wives to the size of a candidate's hands or genitalia or a moderator's menstrual cycle.

Donald Trump's campaign has been the locus of much of the controversy, but the trend started long before he entered the race for president.

Public controversies like President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and technological changes such as cable television, the Internet and cell phones have moved formerly taboo discussions about sex and other private topics into public, whether in a restaurant, movie theater or the office.

A study by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs found that 74 percent of Americans think manners and behavior have deteriorated in the United States over the past several decades.

It makes a difference which of those decades were your formative years.

Almost half of Americans age 18-29 think it's OK to use cell phones in restaurants, for example, compared to 22 percent of those over 60. Attitudes are similar on the discussion of sex and the use of profanity.

Some of the key findings:

* Two-thirds see political campaigns as outdoing the public in levels of rudeness.

* Only 7 percent admit to making remarks about someone's gender or sexuality in public, but 34 percent admit to using profanity in public sometimes.

* About 25 percent of the American public admits to daily use of the f-word, up 10 percent since a 2006 survey by The Associated Press and Ipsos.

* Half of us see the Republican campaign as mostly rude and disrespectful, and another 29 percent consider it somewhat rude and disrespectful -- even 8 in 10 Republicans think it's ill-mannered. The Democratic campaign is more civilized, according to the study, with only 16 percent saying it's mostly rude and disrespectful.

* Eighty percent of Americans say political leaders should be held to a higher standard of behavior than other people, and only 15 percent believe that candidates should not be sensitive to the possibility of upsetting other people while they are campaigning.

We agree that people seem to be ruder these days, but we're at a loss for a solution. We would suggest that people mind their manners in states where concealed weapons are popular -- you never know who's packin'!

Check out the original survey here: http://bit.ly/1VO5Pje

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