Mark Steyn solves the problem of our lack of general consensus about what to shout at speakers who deserve remonstration:
This year I marked the anniversary of September 11th by driving through Massachusetts. It wasn’t exactly planned that way, just the way things panned out. So, heading toward Boston, I tuned to Bay State radio colossus Howie Carr and heard him reading out portions from the official address to the 9/11 commemoration ceremony by Deval Patrick, who is apparently the governor of Massachusetts. 9/11, said Governor Patrick, “was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States.”
“Mean and nasty”? He sounds like an over-sensitive waiter complaining that John Kerry’s sent back the aubergine coulis again. But evidently that’s what passes for tough talk in Massachusetts these days — the shot heard around the world and so forth. Anyway, Governor Patrick didn’t want to leave the crowd with all that macho cowboy rhetoric ringing in their ears, so he moved on to the nub of his speech: 9/11, he continued, “was also a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other.”
I was laughing so much I lost control of the wheel and the guy in the next lane had to swerve rather dramatically. He flipped me the Universal Symbol of Human Understanding. I certainly understood him, though I’m not sure I could learn to love him. Anyway I drove on to Boston and pondered the governor’s remarks. He had made them, after all, before an audience of 9/11 families: Six years ago, two of the four planes took off from Logan Airport, and so citizens of Massachusetts ranked very high among the toll of victims. Whether or not any of the family members present last Tuesday were offended by Governor Patrick, no-one cried “Shame!” or walked out on the ceremony. Americans are generally respectful of their political eminences, no matter how little they deserve it.
Let’s all agree on “Shame!” as the voice from the crowd when the crowd is too polite (or deluded) to take the microphone away.