‘Blame parents for the current lack of courtesy. Children are taught to expect everything and are denied nothingthey have no manners at all.*
The rude age
In regards to your cover story on the rise of incivility in our society, I work in the fast food industry at a drive-through window and although most customers are pleasant, what I can’t understand is why some get so irate over something that is truly insignificant (“Rude awakening,” April 5). I mean, we don’t purposely mess up orders, but sometimes mistakes happen. These people get steamed, their blood pressure skyrockets and they jump up and down like toddlers because they got the wrong coffee. That does not excuse us for our mistake, but, geez, to make such a scene in public over such a minor thing! I truly feel sorry for these people—they go through life arguing and fighting about parking places at the mall or waiting behind someone who has nine items in a one-to-eight line. Big deal. Really, big deal.
Heather Cardie, Whitby, Ont.
I’m sure you will get lots of e-mails and letters from people with stories to tell about how they have experienced rude behaviour. However, I’m not one of those people. I constantly run into people who are, at the very least, civil and who often are quite polite. Even in the service industry, the waiters, waitresses and the clerks I encounter are courteous. Rudeness certainly exists, but I’m not convinced it is any worse than it was years ago, nor am I convinced it will be getting worse in the future. Kevan Cowcill, North Bay, Ont.
Popular music is the soundtrack of our lives. In the ’60s, it echoed and reinforced sensitivity, social awareness, the environmental, feminist and civil rights movements, and protests that led to the end of an unjust war. But what can be said about the rap music playing in the heads of so many adolescents today, other than it epitomizes and encourages aggressive, violent, selfindulgent, sexist and superficial behaviour. Things are only going to get worse once these kids reach adulthood. Alan Lovegrove, Sudbury, Ont.
So your national affairs writer Charlie Gillis is ticked off with all those inconsiderate louts whose middle finger is the most often used part of their bodies. Well, he shouldn’t be. Working for Maclean’s, a magazine that recently featured a cover story on the Trailer Park Boys and a lengthy article on Tom Green, he should realize that ordinary people are not being rude. They are simply imitating those who the media holds up as celebrities. Don Crewe, Port aux Basques, Nfld.
What better way to affirm that vulgarity is alive and well in Canada than by featuring the middle finger on your front cover. Now, I just have to explain to my sevenand 10-year-old boys why I’m reading such a “rude” magazine. Rachel Sixt, Waterloo, Ont.
Despite thousands of years of social evolution, we are still animals—we fight for anything believed to be in short supply. Where animals fight over a dwindling food supply, human beings might kill for supremacy on the highway or the best concert seats. Regrettably, with our current society focused so intently on what we may have to give up, co-operation, mutual respect and good behaviour become dependent on whether or not we perceive there is enough of everything to go around. Lynn James, Hamilton
No justification We are writing to express our disappointment in your publishing Barbara Amiel’s support for the murder of a Muslim cleric and spokesman for Palestine (“Justifiable homicide,” Column, April 5). If anyone had submitted an article calling the murder of Ariel Sharon justifiable, I am certain you would brand it as terrorist hate literature. Yet you provide a cloak of respectability for Amiel’s brand of hate. When you choose sides in such issues, you abandon your responsibility to your readers to inform, not to inflame. Shame on you. Marjory and Frank Smith, Woodville, Ont.
Just a note of appreciation for Barbara Amiel’s forthright and honest reporting of Middle East issues. With all the misinformation and disinformation flying around regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, her tell-it-as-it-is style is a breath of fresh air. The Israeli government should be honouring her for being one of the few journalists outside of that country with the chutzpah to write the truth when most of the world’s media continue to promote an anti-Israel bias. Keep it up, Ms. Amiel. Roy Trepanier, Caledon East, Ont.
I am outraged that you provided Barbara Amiel with a full page to vent her hatred while hiding behind all the usual platitudes. Amiel can certainly express her malevolent opinions in the comfort of her own kitchen, but I do not want to have to read it in a public forum. Howard Smith, Hartington, Ont.
Canada the violent
In dumping the blame for hockey’s brutality at the door of the NHL’s New York City head office, you conveniently ignore the reality that hockey violence is primarily a Canadian product (“No end in sight,” Cover, March 22). Todd Bertuzzi, Marty McSorley, Matt Johnson, Dale Hunter—Canadians all. So are almost all of the league’s penaltyminute leaders, though Canadians now make up just over 50 per cent of the players. It’s time to take a hard look at our own thuggish hockey culture. Glenn Martin, Oslo, Norway
My family and I attended a WHL game in Regina last year. We told the kids that if a fight broke out, we would leave. There were no fights, but there was an incident. Two players who desperately wanted to fight were held apart by two linesmen until they were manhandled into the penalty box. It was not a fight—it was the embarrassing inability of two young and talented men to control their emotions. Lindsay Hognestad, Regina
Canadians should remember that in the early 20th century, another one of its beloved sports once nearly disappeared because of uncontrolled violence—lacrosse. Before the NHL drops entirely off the face of the sports landscape, it might be relegated first to the fringes of TV along with roller derby, spelling bees and darts. What will the NHL do then to attract large multinational sponsors and TV contracts? Allan Koyanagi, Mississauga, Ont.
Acts of senseless violence in our homes, on the streets, on world battlefields, on TV and in movies are becoming increasingly ferocious. What will it take for the NHL to stop endorsing the same in “our good old hockey game”? Some of us still believe in playing fair. Dorothy Giuliani, Bums Lake, B.C.
Why is it that in “Kids vs. career” (Cover, March 15) you gave the impression that only women stay home with the children? Men also stay home with children while women continue their career. I, for example, have stayed home with my three children, now 16,15 and 12, since their birth. It was most enjoyable being there for their emerging needs at home and school. David Galbraith, Edmonton
Is the choice between child rearing and professional fulfillment not a struggle for men as well? Do men not head out the door to work with a yearning backward glance? Do men not feel guilt about missing the best years of their children’s lives? I wonder if there has really been much change, or if there is still a huge gender split on the issue. Carol Redmond, Toronto
I am amazed that no one has commented on the danger that a father, who may be paying the bills today, decides tomorrow to move in with someone else—while the wife is left, late in life, with no career experience and, therefore, no job prospects or pension. Statistically, this is a big danger, and something all women should consider before agreeing to stay at home full-time with the kids. Kristina Bruhn, Ottawa
What kind of message does government send by providing nothing for stay-at-home parents?
I feel sorry for a woman who feels insecure about choosing motherhood over a career in fear that others would view this choice as demeaning. Imagine, motherhood as a demotion. Sadly, those who feel external pressures to achieve social worth and acceptance often wind up unhappy and frustrated with their lives. Pierre Maranger, Orleans, Ont.
It is unfortunate that being a stay-at-home mother has been so devalued by our society. Government is eager to subsidize daycare for working parents, but provides nothing for people who stay at home, and who bear the full responsibility and cost of daycare. What kind of message does this send to women who wish to stay at home? Clearly, it tells them they have little or no value to our society. Robert Mohr, Revelstoke, B.C.
In the UpFront section (“ScoreCard,” March 15), you gave the thumbs-down to a decision by Ottawa to grant $200,000 to the World Championships of Adventure Racing, a sort of six-day triathalon, to be held in Newfoundland this August. The thumbs down implied that taxpayers were to be the casualties of this decision. I beg to differ. Not only do the province and the organizers deserve credit and financial support for attracting and hosting such a prestigious, world-class event but, more importantly, the athletes deserve the financial support the grant will provide. Canada needs to attract more such international athletic events. A big thumbs-up to the Rock and organizers of the Adventure Racing Worlds. Jim Oliver, Simcoe, Ont.
Statement of love
Your March 29 article “Honeymoon heaven” along with a picture of us by Niagara Falls on the magazine’s cover has been one of the most fantastic experiences of our lives. We understand there are people who believe same-sex couples should not be allowed to redefine marriage. What these individuals don’t understand is that we aren’t redefining anything. We are adding to marriage. We are a committed couple who love each other and want our relationship to be recognized by our family, friends and government. And, most importantly, by God. Those who believe that marriage is only for having children are mistaken. Couples don’t get married to have children, they get married because it is the final demonstration of love and commitment.
Michael Orr and Thomas Pate, Omaha, Neb.
Here’s my answer to your March 29 samesex marriage cover question “Got a problem with this?” You bet I do. I object to being branded as homophobic simply because I hold a viewpoint different from those in the gay camp. And I also object that the same-sex marriage issue is being compared to African-Americans once not being allowed to drink from the same water fountains as Caucasians. By inference, that makes me a racist for disagreeing with the gays on this issue. That comparison is dangerous and unfair. Chris Hemkay, Williamstown, Ont.
I am a U.S. citizen with a Japanese samesex partner of 11 years. We immigrated to Canada primarily because of the Canadian perspective on gay issues. Shortly after we arrived here three years ago, a census was taken. Imagine our delight at being able to check the marital status box, “commonlaw.” By the time the next census comes around, we can even check “married” if we choose. The mere fact that many Canadians don’t see what the big deal is about recognizing gay relationships, is a very big deal to us. Thank you, Canada. Suzy Nachtsheim, Gabriola Island, B.C.
Allan Gregg is a perceptive and highly respected observer of Canadian politics, but he must have had a headache when he wrote “Why don’t people vote?” (Essay, April 5). Canadians do vote when they think it’s necessary. For example, they have wiped out the Mulroney Tories and the B.C. NDP. When there are no compelling issues, the vote falls off.
Gerald Woods, Pender Island, B.C.
It makes no difference if one votes. As soon as the votes are counted, the elected leader vows to keep his promises to the electorate, but a week later it’s all forgotten—and the dance begins again four years later. Harvey Holloway, Grande Prairie, Alta.
Strangely, the arena where the ordinary citizen has the most influence, and is most directly influenced, is also the one with the least voter participation. Municipal elections put local people into power who make decisions that affect us in our everyday lives, including such mundane matters as roads, transportation, water, sewerage and even when and where we can or can’t go shopping. Yet turnouts for municipal elections are typically the lowest of all three levels of government. Richard Weatherill, Victoria
I was encouraged to read Allan Gregg’s constructive solutions to the present indifference towards politics. Using citizen assemblies, encouraging charity and social development service, and eliciting input from volunteer organizations and NGOs are ideas that deserve a closer look. If Canadians feel their voices matter, they will be encouraged to participate. Henry Lammers, London, Ont.
Rude Rage: Tales of random incivility
In our April 5 cover story “Rude Awakening,” we asked you to send us stories of boorish behaviour. And did you ever. Hundreds of them. Here are some of the more colourful—and appalling—rudeness-victim testimonies. See more at www.macleans.ca.
Setting: An accountant’s office for my 2 p.m. meeting. He arrives at 2:25—for his 1 p.m. meeting. He saw me at 3:05. He invited me into his office by yelling “Hello!” twice as if I were guilty of an attention deficit. He didn’t use my name nor introduce himself; didn’t shake hands, didn’t apologize for the Wait. His entire attitude was pure flip-off. And this is someone who’s in business—born in a barn, perhaps, but still in business. Avril Dell, Toronto
My husband and I were shopping at a Home Depot. When it was our turn to pay, the cashier had to call for a price check. The man in line behind us started to berate me, yelling, “Get through the f—ing line. I’ll pay the difference, just get your ass moving.” Finally my husband had had enough, walked up about an inch from his face and started letting him have it. I was really traumatized by this episode. I have MS and it caused me to have a relapse for weeks following.
Alda McCulloch, Burnaby, B.C.
My heart-stopper takes place on the subway: A person enters, consumes a huge fast-food banquet in fewer than three stops—with the attendant smacking of lips and finger-licking to savour all the ketchup and salt—throws the packaging under the seat, burps, then glares at those looking on in amazement. Evan Thompson, Toronto
A young man walked up to one of two tellers at a bank, who began processing his business. Suddenly, the man’s cellphone rang. He ended a short conversation with the words “I’ll be right there.” Then he walked out to continue his conversation in person with another young man in a car parked by the front door. Meanwhile, the teller—stuck in the middle of this idiot’s banking procedure—couldn’t use her computer to serve other customers. When he finally came back, many in our line of 20 demanded that he go to the back. He rudely replied, “No, it’s my turn to be served.” This proves that cellphones do indeed cause brain damage. John Velchak, Toronto
He grabbed the name tag on my uniform and ripped it off, revealing my black lace bra. Then all hell broke loose.
I am a single mother of a five-and-a-halfyear-old boy. Wherever I take my son, he holds doors open for people. But nine out of 10 people walk by him without saying thank you or even looking at him. It breaks my heart. What makes it even harder is that he always says, “You’re welcome.” Sarah Hughes, Kingston, Ont.
The term “customer service” is used way too loosely these days. I have a small student loan and had a simple question about paying it back, but the call to the bank made me so angry. This woman talked to me in a snarky tone, cut me off mid-sentence and even raised her voice to me. I didn’t treat the bank like that when I asked to borrow money, so why should they treat me like that when they want it back? Denise Muise, Tusket, N.S.
In 1999,1 became a Toronto Transit Commission operator. Since then, I’ve been assaulted twice, had someone spit in my lace, and been abused verbally dozens of times. All of this I’ve handled and will continue to. It’s the constant, casual, unthinking rudeness that’s eating away at my soul. Every day I have to struggle against giving in to simply hating everybody. John McElwain, Whitby, Ont.
I was working a San Diego-to-Toronto flight as an Air Canada in-flight purser. As passengers were boarding, a man came on with two hockey-bag-sized rollerboards and backpacks on both his chest and back. I smiled and told him, “I’m sorry, Mr. X, but we’ll have to check one of your bags—the flight is full and you’re over your allotment.” His reply: “Just let me go to my seat.” Me: Mr. X, you are over your allowance for bags. You can’t bring that on. Mr. X: You touch that and you’ll be sorry. Me: Is that a threat? Mr. X: No, a promise. Me: Well, Mr. X, please step off the plane and return to the gate. Mr. X: You f—ing bitch! He grabbed the name brevet on the breast pocket of my uniform and ripped it off, revealing my black lace bra. Mr. Y, in line behind him, grabbed him in a headlock while I simultaneously pushed him off me and, suffice to say, all hell broke loose. The end of the story? I wiped my tears, pinned my dress, let Mr. X ride to Toronto, thanked Mr. Y and doubted my career choice for 24 months after that. Michelle Pian, London, Ont.
Recently, a friend and I decided to have lunch in the food court of a local mall. With only me and my friend in line, I ordered a chicken Caesar salad. The guy behind the counter whined, “The chicken is going to take 10 minutes to heat” and then he let out a long sigh. So I changed my order to the salad without chicken. Once again he looked at me like I was insane and grumbled that the “romaine lettuce isn’t broke up yet.” I thanked him, turned and went to the Burger King next door. Meanwhile, my friend, crumpled on the floor in hysterics, proceeded to order a “chicken Caesar salad, please.” Wanda Bond, Picton, Ont.
Last December I greeted a fellow who walked into the art gallery where I work. He responded: “You couldn’t pry money out of my cold dead hand for any of this stuff.” Katherine Whitehead, Vancouver