Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


We the people? You can have ‘em, sez me

posted by Rod Dreher

We went last night down to Penn’s Landing, on the Delaware River waterfront, to attend the Ice Cream Festival, and to watch the fireworks. The fireworks display was fantastic, one of the best I’ve ever seen. But it’s the last one I’m going to with the kids, or ever. I don’t enjoy crowds as a general rule, but last night’s was way more than I can take. Matthew, our sensory kid who sometimes struggles with intense crowd situations, was pretty close to meltdown by the time it was over.It wasn’t that the crowd was unruly, at least for me. It’s just that it … was. It took a long time to find a place to park, a long time to get onto the site, and a really long time to get out, and to drive free of downtown Philadelphia. We got home very late, and slept right through the alarm this morning, missing church. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find that I don’t have much tolerance for those sorts of experiences anymore. It’s something you do for the sake of the kids having a good time, so you suck it up. But there’s something else going on, I think. Depending on the crowd, I guess, a certain number of people just don’t know how to behave. About 10 minutes before the fireworks began last night, a group of about eight older teenagers, the guys covered with tattoos, pushed to the front of the section where we were so they could see. People — some elderly, many with kids, had arrived two hours early or more and held that spot, but these teenagers just did what they damn well pleased, and everybody else just had to deal with it. The frustrating thing about it was everybody simply had to accomodate them. I don’t think it occurred to any of the rest of us to tell them to back off, that they were being unconsiderate and unfair to everybody else. Why borrow trouble — especially if you have kids with you? That group of teenagers — boys, mostly — made it perfectly clear by their manner that they were going to do what they wanted to do, and if you had a problem with that, you’d have the whole lot to deal with.Half an hour before that, a clearly angry security guard stormed up and told a group of people who were sitting in a dangerous place on a wall to get off of it; judging from the back and forth, he’d told them to get off the wall in another place on the waterfront, so they just relocated to this one and resumed their behavior. One woman in that group started mouthing off to the guard in a loud, highly dramatic way. It was slightly unnerving, because you didn’t know how this was going to turn out. She was clearly playing to the crowd, or what she hoped would be a crowd that would back her. It didn’t happen, and somehow the tension was defused. But what she was trying to do was serve as a kind of spark that would set the crowd off. At least, I got the impression that she wouldn’t have minded that, because this guard had cheesed her off. Luckily, that didn’t happen. The Ice Cream Festival was an event inside a large tent at Penn’s Landing. It’s a cancer fundraiser. Ice cream companies — Ben and Jerry’s and many others — donate their products. You pay $5 to get in, and can have all the ice cream you can eat. The line to get in was, unsurprisingly, very, very long. I waited in it with Julie and the kids till the gate, then Nora and I walked down to get a place on the waterfront. If you throw a fit and won’t eat your lunch, even if Daddy tells you you have to eat your meat if you want ice cream later, these things happen. Anyway, about 40 minutes later, Julie and the boys showed up, and she was livid.”Never again,” she said. “That tent is jam-packed, and Lucas nearly got trampled — literally — by these idiots demanding their free ice cream.” She explained that the whole experience was ruined by small mobs of people who were bound and determined to get as much ice cream as they could manage, and who would throw elbows to get to the front of lines, demanding, “Gimme a Klondike bar! Yeagggh, they got Klondike bars!” Julie said these nitwits were out of control. She went to a security guard and told him to do his job.”That could have easily turned into an English soccer hooligans situation,” she said, still visibly shaken. “There was only one way out, and those people were close to being out of control.”All over ice cream. Again, a good thing is spoiled, or nearly spoiled, by idiots who don’t know how to behave in public. They don’t know how to control themselves, and, because they don’t respect others, don’t understand why they should control themselves in situations like that. Well, the fireworks were pretty great, and as far as I can tell, there were no serious problems, but I can’t say it was worth the hassle. Because of the massive crowd, we spent more time getting to the waterfront and getting back than we did experiencing the actual event (plus the pleasure of spending $30 for parking). And having to deal with menacing jackasses at the Ice Cream Festival and elsewhere really took away from the fun. Downtown Philadelphia, where Penn’s Landing is, has had problems with flashmobs this year, so it’s by no means the case that concern over crowd violence is merely an example of overanxious parents. See this:UPDATE: I thought later this morning about how when in Cambridge, England, in June of ’09, I was warned against going to the local Strawberry Fair by locals who said it had become notorious for drunkenness and hooliganism. Does anything sound more bucolic than a Strawberry Fair in a charming old English university town like Cambridge? As it turned out, I had already made plans to go down to London on the Fair day, so I missed it. Apparently last year’s fair was the last straw for the Cambridge police, who asked the city to refuse to license the 2010 Strawberry Fair — and the city complied. How about that: a lovely event for the community, especially for children, something as gentle as a Strawberry Fair, ruined by idiots who cannot control their drinking and public behavior.



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thomas tucker

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:11 am


I have noticed the same phenomenon. Compared to when we were kids, the levels of bad behavior in society have risen exponentially. It is magnified in crowd situations and in large cities. There is less of it in small towns and smaller cities.
I think we are reaping what we have sown as a society, and we have extolled the individual, “self-expression”, looking out for number one, and materialism while progressively diminishing traditional Christian values. It’s been a long time coming. But at this point, we are living on the fumes left over from Christian morality- it is apparent in many different ways including crowd behavior, corporate behavior, Wall Street behavior, and others.
word captcha: decade approve. Not.



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Theophilus

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:16 am


It’s really too bad to hear how badly behaved people were. If it’s any consolation, it isn’t like that everywhere. I attended the Canada Day fireworks in Winnipeg on Thursday, and that was a pretty great environment. None of that sort of hooliganism, the public transit authority provided bus shuttles to free parking lots outside the park where the fireworks were, and it was just a really good time. Maybe the relatively small size of Winnipeg played a part, though. The whole city is only 650K people, and there was a second set of fireworks downtown, so only about 30K people were present.



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Mary in Philly

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:41 am


Dear Rod,
Now you know why we in the ‘burbs just buy some extra ice cream at the grocery store, stay home and watch the fireworks on tv. I’m lucky in that I live on a hill and can look out my study window and see the “high ones” of our local fireworks display without leaving my desk.
If you ever frequent the “Super Fresh” grocery store, look for “Skinny Cow” “truffle” popsicles. They’re only 100 calories each and they’re delicious.
Mary in Philly
captcha: Mashhad that



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Franklin Evans

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:50 am


Theophilus, your comparison attempt was a reasonable one, but flawed. Philly’s population is about twice that of Winnipeg, but the “draw” area extends well beyond the city limits, putting it closer to 10 times instead of 2. There’s nothing like Penn’s Landing for July 4th (and New Year’s Eve, fair warning to Rod), and people drive in from South Jersey as well as the PA suburbs.
As for Rod’s main commentary… I don’t know if you remember, Rod, but I’ve posted a rant or six along those same lines here and elsewhere. That and $1,000 will get you treated at the ER for daring to speak up against bullies.
One addendum I’ve not brought up before, but thought to: Parc, the restaurant your niece liked so much, as well as the next two on the block, turn a triple-wide sidewalk into extra income (without paying the city for it) at the expense of ordinary pedestrians being able to walk down the street, at least on that side of it. Where else can you think of where restaurant owners thumb their noses at citizens for the sake of better profit? You should see people with strollers or in wheelchairs try to navigate that stretch (Locust to Walnut). As nice as your eating experience there was, I tell people who ask that we boycott any restaurant that blocks sidewalks with chairs and tables. Parc is on that list.



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LutheranChik

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:54 am


Here in outstate Michigan, with a plethora of lakes and a good number of weekend cottagers who set off their own rather elaborate (and I’m sure illegal) fireworks on the 4th, we’ve taken to just driving around the county and watching the show from the road. I should add that we live only a couple of blocks from our community’s big July 4th public festivities…but for many of the reasons you mention we find it prudent to get out of town.



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Oengus

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:59 am


Rod: “Again, a good thing is spoiled, or nearly spoiled, by idiots who don’t know how to behave in public.”
Rod, I can’t help but wonder. Is there a correlation between the multicultural cosmopolitan index of a locality and its level of public idiocy? In other words, the more “diverse” a place is, the higher the level of public rudeness and hooliganism will be.
Didn’t somebody do a study showing that in places where there is more “diversity” the people there actually trust each other much less. Perhaps the situation you experienced is related?
Captcha: devote fall



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armchair pessimist

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:15 am


Yesterday was the 3rd. What gives?



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Sheila

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:22 am


Once again, if you listen to the video you will see that this has to do with teenagers.
A – Many of them have basically grown up wild. Little or no parenting. Please remember, we are but one generation from barbarism.
B – The teenage population is one of the hardest hit by D.2. The traditional summer jobs are taken by adults trying to support a family (Lord help them). They are bored, frustrated and more than just a little angry.
C – The politics of fear and rage is particularly influential as they are hormonal to begin with.
I wish that the talking heads of all political strips would engage their brains before opening their mouths and think about the influence they are having on those too young or uneducated to understand the real issues under discussion.
Pray for our nation we really NEED divine intervention.



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Michael C

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:41 am


I object to the idea that this is a result of a collapse in religion. This is as a result of a collapse of concern for your fellow citizen. That does not depend upon religion.
My children and grandchildren do not behave like this, and they are atheist or pagan or some such.
Humanists mostly practice what they preach, ie, the Golden Rule.



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Michael C

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:43 am


Incidentally. It is Gay Pride Parade day in Toronto today. There will be at least a million people there. I am pretty sure nothing like this will happen.



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Franklin Evans

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:43 am


Oengus, you ask a fair question. My personal experience, however, rejects the notion you propose. The more insular and homogeneous the neighborhood (speaking, of course, mainly about those neighborhoods of Philly with which I am familiar), the more xenophobic it is, the more suspicious of “strangers”, and the more hostile to difference.
There are notable exceptions, but they have one strong characteristic in common: They are commercial districts as well as residential neighborhoods. The Italian Market (for non-Philadelphians, that’s where the two famous cheese steak shops are located) and Chinatown have very diverse foot traffic, and vendors and merchants have a vested interest in making their visit as pleasant as possible. The residential demographic in each one is obvious from the name.
One more personal/anecdotal observation: The most diverse of any common-type neighborhood is the one where college students live. There, the distrust level is based upon the frequent turnover of renters.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 4, 2010 at 11:45 am


I am also reminded of being warned by locals in Cambridge, England, when I was there last summer to be wary of attending the town’s Strawberry Fair. Too much drunkenness and hooliganism, they warned. Really? I thought? What could be more bucolic and charming than a Strawberry Fair in a beautiful old English university town? As it turned out, I had plans to go down to London that day, and missed the festival. Good thing, too: it was a boozy mess.
I just checked and found that the 2010 Strawberry Festival in Cambridge was cancelled because the police asked the town not to license it this year. What a shame that a yob minority has to ruin a communal event that decent people enjoy — but no doubt the town did the right thing.



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Jake Meador

posted July 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm


Rod – Have you seen this Front Porch article? http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2010/04/we-are-all-goldman-sachs/
Your comments reminded me of that piece.



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stefanie

posted July 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm


We have avoided our local 4th of July celebration for years, as it is a “draw” for people from miles around who don’t want to go into downtown St. Louis. On the last 4th, we took a drive out to the country around the outer suburbs (where the locals set off mass quantities of fireworks in their back yards), just to watch the sky light up. There was so much smoke, every time a firework went off it cast this weird, diffused light over everything. They don’t need no stinking “community days” out in the country, LOL.
creepy captcha: “the mobbing”



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Sterling Crews

posted July 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm


@ Franklin Evans – I agree with your points about the homogeneous neighborhoods and hostility to outsiders. However, I do have to say that Geno’s (probably the most successful business in that neighborhood) doesn’t exactly try to make itself welcoming to different ethnicities (plus, their steaks aren’t all that good). Though that doesn’t refute your assertion.
As for Parc, the city probably doesn’t mind it using the sidewalks, as Rittenhouse Square has plenty of sidewalk space for people to use.
Speaking to the general point of the post, I think the behavior Rod noted has less to do with diversity than with large events. My personal guess is that people lose a lot of civility at large events, especially weekend summer events when free items are one of the draws.



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M.Z.

posted July 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm


There is a certain irony in humanists setting themselves up in cultural ghettos. When people seek to specifically exclude themselves from the larger community, why the hell are they surprised that they don’t enjoy the community the one day they deign to mix with the commoners? The petty bourgeois outrage is a bit much. Have you ever thought why we have one of the largest police states ever? Have you ever thought why we have more people in prison than were held in gulags we so quickly condemn? This is the US.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm


Oh, give me a break, M.Z., with your holding up incivility and incipient hooliganism as a sign of cultural authenticity. “One of the largest police states ever”? Give me a break. If we have generations raised without any effective sense of internal restraint and self-governance, we will have more prisons. The people who suffer the most from anarchic behavior in society are not people like me, who can stay more or less insulated from them in our middle-class neighborhoods; it’s the decent poor and working-class people, who because of economic circumstances cannot escape.
Last night’s event was meant for the whole community. It was free, except for the ice cream festival, where kids could enjoy a lot of ice cream for a relatively small donation. As far as I know, there were no real problems in the broader event, despite the air of menace at the ice cream festival. But again, I can afford to take my kids to good ice cream shops whenever I like to, and buy them what they want. I can afford to give my kids a decent day out. Big public events like that are best enjoyed by folks who don’t have the resources to do for their kids like I can do for mine. That you would somehow extol threatening and rude behavior, and condemn people who object to it, marks you as a certain kind of bourgeois. I bet you’re popular in your academic department, though.



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Ken

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm


The people who suffer the most from anarchic behavior in society are not people like me, who can stay more or less insulated from them in our middle-class neighborhoods; it’s the decent poor and working-class people, who because of economic circumstances cannot escape.
Darn right. We have our house on the market right now because the neighborhood’s in decline, but there isn’t much in town in our price range. Last night some neighbors decided to shoot off fireworks practically across the street, and they weren’t shooting off the little kind. My wife was afraid the cinders would start a fire on the roof.
Sorry about your rough experience, Rod. Why security guards couldn’t have escorted those teens right out of the park, I don’t know.



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Peterk

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm


want to control the ice cream festival? easy solution, make the price of admission $20 and not $5, that will keep the rif-raf out, make a price for family.
“The traditional summer jobs are taken by adults trying to support a family (Lord help them).”
and part of the problem is the minimum wage. youth don’t have any job skills and yet businesses are being told to pay them over $7 an hour. better to hire an adult with a variety of job skills that you can use instead of a youth with none.



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Marifasus

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm


Rod, you’re on fire! What a great series of posts since Friday.
Sorry for your family’s miserable time at the festival/fireworks, that sounds indescribably awful. Yes, there’s way too big a percentage of people capable of terrible public behavior. Disturbing.



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Jon

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm


Like Rod I can’t stand dense crowds and I avoid them like the plague. I’ll be in Michigan later this month and I will give the Ann Arbor art fair (one of the best in the country) since I haven’t been for ten years, though I suspect my tolerance for those crowds will wear pretty thin pretty fast.
And there’s nothing new under the sun about crowds turning bad. Twenty years ago when I was in college a drunken mob (by no means all students) trashed downtown Ann Arbor after a basketball championship. Forty ago there was a rock concert that included open murders. Going back further Ameican history is hardly lacking for riots and lynchings. People gathered together in a throng become the great beast Alexander Hamilton derided.



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thomas tucker

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Jon- yes, you can pick isolated examples from times past, but I think what used to be an exception is now a general rule. The level of coarseness and bad behavior throughout society is pervasive now.



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thomas tucker

posted July 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm


With regard to the role of religion, or lack of religion, on this condition now, I would say that even the pagans and atheists are benefiting from the residual and rapidly diminshing influence of Christianity.



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Houghton

posted July 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm


Rod, I’m curious about something, since I also lived on the East Coast for a time. People are going to get mad about me about this, but I find a cultural difference in the behavior at public events on the West and East Coasts versus Middle America. There’s more civility and calm at most public events in flyover country, at least from my anecdotal experience.
Though I also have to say — after going to the grocery store yesterday, I began to wonder when ubiquitous tattoos, muscle T’s, greasy hair and general slovenliness apparently became the uniform for America. Can’t we do better?



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M.Z.

posted July 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm


The behavior at festivals is little different than what you see at an inner city McDonald’s. It is little different than what you see after 9:00 PM at a county fair. It is little different than what you see at most any bar that doesn’t have microbrews on tap. The behavior isn’t exceptional.
Captcha: properly grinned



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Richard

posted July 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm


I sympathize entirely with you, Rod. A few years back, I had a similar experience at the Jambalaya Jam. I am a fairly big guy – 6’1″ and 250 – but people tried to butt in front of me as if I wasn’t there. I finally got in the face of some woman who tried to get between me and my daughter and she seemed completely taken aback. Not sure I’d do that with a group of teens, especially with my kids in tow.
I hate to say it, but the culture of Philly’s people is headed into the toilet in large part. I’m sure Franklin Evans will take exception to that, but the city has long since abandoned ideas about accountability, civility, and responsibility. Even City Council is more concerned with exacting reparations fro slavery than dealing with the school problems.
As much as I think Rendell stinks as Governor, I loved him as a Mayor. Maybe he’ll come back and bail out His Honor Mike Nutter?



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Matushka Anna

posted July 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm


Just a counter-experience:
Last year for the 4th I decided that we as a family would go to the community concert and fireworks display they offer in Birmingham, AL. I was worried because we typically avoid “events” like the plague since I have a fear of crowds and it’s too stressful to enjoy anything.
As I said, we went anyway. I was so pleasantly surprised. The concert was by the community orchestra and was outside. We spread blankets and folding chairs. The children there were well-behaved and everyone enjoyed the music. A medley of military songs was played at some point and veterans from the different branches stood up as their “song” was played and each branch was applauded. Everyone stood up for the national anthem. After the concert, the fireworks started which necessitated a slight change of venue (walking about a block) where people set up chairs/blankets where they liked. There was no hooliganism. The town was covered-up with people but people driving were considerate of those crossing streets. It was such a nice experience. I’m only sorry we won’t be able to be there this year. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience this year, Rod.
(wow, captcha: Washington respect)



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Cecelia

posted July 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm


I think it was the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty – huge fireworks as part of the celebration – I was part of a large crowd watching from the Jersey side – memorable night – fantastic fireworks and at one point – the whole crowd broke out into a rousing version of God Bless America. People had radios playing the musical accompaniment and when it got to the end and the Star Spangled Banner the whole crowd stood and sang along. I must say it was a rare occasion when I saw a huge crowd behave well and show a lot of patriotism.
My town has a old fashioned sort of 4th – all day long celebration in a town park – games, pie eating contests, picnicking, bands and fireworks in the evening. We’ve been going for over 20 years and never once have I had an unpleasant experience. But that is a homogeneous group in their own town with their neighbors – I’d bet that makes all the difference. Plus the parents are there to monitor their rowdy teens.



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kevin s.

posted July 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm


“I wish that the talking heads of all political strips would engage their brains before opening their mouths and think about the influence they are having on those too young or uneducated to understand the real issues under discussion.”
Yeah, I’m sure these degenerates were merely overstimulated by an especially brisk discussion on last week’s Meet the Press.
Young people will be thugs. The difference is that, nowadays, we simply tolerate (and thereby reward) their behavior. If anyone stands up to it, bystanders will gladly sit idly by as that person is beaten.
Consider this. What percentage of parents actually make good on the threat of withholding ice cream for failure to eat dinner? Especially on the east coast? Three percent?



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Jon

posted July 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm


Thomas Tucker,
As I said I avoid anything more crowded than a busy stores at Christmas or maybe a nightclub on a popular night (and I’ve been known to leave those places if the crush gets too bad), so I don’t know much about these things. Still, I recall a whole rash of “town-trashings” after major sporting events in the 80s and 90s. Something similar happened all over SE Michigan when the Tigers won the World Series in 1984. And bad bahevior at rock concerts (fights, drugs galore, public elimination, etc) is legendary ever since Woodstock.
I suspect the Ann Arbor Art Fair, if I make it there, will be as I remember: hot and sweltery, crowded as can be, but mannery still. That’s the kind of event that attracts mainly middle and upper middle class people, and rather few teenagers and children. Also, while there are bars along the Ann Arbor streets there’s not that much boozing associated with it.
But the last time I was in a big uncomfortable crowd outside was five years ago. One of my younger relatives was celebrating her 21st birthday in Ybor City in Tampa– party central for people her age. Ugh! I swore that night I would never set foot in that place again. Drunken kids everywhere, some throwing up on the sidewwalk, some looking ready for a fight. I didn’t like drunken 20 year olds when I was one and never want to go back. The crush so bad that by the time I arrived at the indicated bar I was ready for five shots of tequila myself. It made Bourbon Street in New Orleans look like a monastic retreat!



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ctb

posted July 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm


It is also crowded but I would be interested if next year you attended Narbeth’s celebration and see if your experience is any better.



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Denis

posted July 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm


Those unruly Amish, with their hats and their pitchforks, and their appetite for ice cream!



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Edward

posted July 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm


I´m really sorry to hear that Americans have started behaving like Brits. I thought you guys were politer. Certainly I’ve always noticed that Americans, as a whole, seem less thuggish than Brits.
Were you in an area which allowed concealed carry? The kids might not have behaved in that way if you had been.



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Peter

posted July 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm


Happy Crumudgeon Indepedence Day to you and yours.



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thehova

posted July 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm


I love to be drunk in public. So I guess I’ll refrain from judging on this matter.



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M.Z.

posted July 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm


As long as you get drunk on wine, you should be okay. PBR, Miller, and Bud will not be tolerated.



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Kirk

posted July 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Recap: Woe is me! Breakdown in overall civility. Social fabric tattered and torn. (Could it be caused by the declining influence of the Christian religion?) Woe is me! (By the way, I overslept and didn’t make it to worship this morning. Oops.) Woe is me!
The irony is rich.



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Franklin Evans

posted July 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm


Richard, you’ll find (perhaps) surprising agreement from me on most criticisms of my fair city. What I will submit for clarification are some details that get overlooked by broad statements such as yours.
Philadelphia, from its inception, is a city of neighborhoods. Most of the named areas — Kensington, Fishtown, Port Richmond, Manayunk, Germantown — were independent municipalities before being absorbed by the city. They’ve retained their boundaries in the identity sense, and they do have distinct “personalities” in comparison to each other. That, I hasten to add, is independent from the generic ills (and benefits!) that can be endemic to urban residential neighborhoods.
From my POV, having lived in other areas of the country long enough to get a clear sense of the local “personality”, it’s people. It’s just a change — cyclic, [d]evolutionary, call it what you will — that we who have a long enough span of time notice and bemoan. I’ve lived in the city for almost 33 years, most of that in my current neighborhood, and I see the same behavior sets — trivial though their expressions might seem, at least in isolation — that indicate a general attitude: My convenience is king. If I “get there” first, no matter how obstructive or disruptive my action or behavior might be, I claim the right to get away with it not only in the legal sense, but also in the social sense.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been the target of disapprobation by everyone else affected by a boor or bully, simply because I was the only one to speak up to that person. Don’t rock the boat, don’t point out rudeness or be seen as rude yourself. Our basic sense of community, of sharing a living space cooperatively, is dying. Rod’s family’s experience, extreme thought it was for the number of people at the event, was entirely and totally familiar to me.



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Appalachian Prof

posted July 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm


M.Z., would you have enjoyed these incidents had they happened to you with your children in tow? Please explain.



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Franklin Evans

posted July 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm


Prof, I don’t think MZ expects to be taken seriously in this thread.
Edward, are you actually a Brit, and are you actually that clueless about personal firearms in the US?
If nothing else, and I would like to muster a civil tone here but I’m struggling, it seems like the proverbial no-brainer to expect a massacre in a crowd that size should someone be so crazy as to pull a weapon, conceal-carry permit or not.



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M.Z.

posted July 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm


Kirk sums up my opinion on this pretty well.
Would I have enjoyed these incidents? Who knows? I have been to quite a number of firework shows drawing over 50,000 people. I did drive to some of them, but that is generally the first mistake. Tonight, I will be walking to a firework show. There will be 10-20,000 people there if the weather holds out. There will be plenty of drunk people. Some people might be smoking weed. Others might be making out. My children are mostly oblivious to it and don’t care.
This is about my 5th year living within 3 blocks of the most popular public beach in the county. On a given weekend there will be 500-1000 people camped out, and I will often be one of them. I’ve managed to get along fine. But Rod made himself clear. He prefers private activities with someone directing each and every interaction. He doesn’t want to have to put up with others. I have grown to appreciate real community, a real shared commons. Some people just like to romantically write about it.



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michael

posted July 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm


I hate crowds of people and avoid them at all costs, to the extent possible, for reasons Rod says. Anything involving low prices is extra bad because you get all the riff-raff. The only thing with crowds I will visit is the Dodger games; crowd control is pretty good.



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Ken

posted July 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm


I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been the target of disapprobation by everyone else affected by a boor or bully, simply because I was the only one to speak up to that person. Don’t rock the boat, don’t point out rudeness or be seen as rude yourself.
I believe you, and it’s that disinclination to stand up to the incivil among us that I don’t understand. The lovely neighborhood my wife and I live in has professional people, grad students, and retirees, but it’s slowly being ruined by the boorishness of a few people lacking in middle class values, most of them relative newcomers. The rest of us commiserate, but I’m the only one who calls the cops.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm


Recap: Woe is me! Breakdown in overall civility. Social fabric tattered and torn. (Could it be caused by the declining influence of the Christian religion?) Woe is me! (By the way, I overslept and didn’t make it to worship this morning. Oops.) Woe is me!
Oh, please. Who said jackasses at a street fair were harbingers of the Apocalypse? Some of you people just go out of your way to find something to complain about regarding me and this blog. Go read something else if you don’t like it here.
I have grown to appreciate real community, a real shared commons. Some people just like to romantically write about it.
This is one of those statements one simply has to roll one’s eyes at, like the kind of people who pine away for the lost authenticity of Times Square, when it had hookers and junkies and porn theaters.
He prefers private activities with someone directing each and every interaction. He doesn’t want to have to put up with others.
I don’t want to have to put up with people who menace others, either because they themselves are drunk, or don’t respect the right of other people to enjoy themselves in peace. I especially feel this way when I have my children with me. I know, it’s shocking.



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stari_momak

posted July 4, 2010 at 9:46 pm


The traditional summer jobs are taken by adults trying to support a family (Lord help them).
Uh, maybe you show take a look at immigration…
http://www.cis.org/teen-unemployment
In Cali, a lot of the jobs that used to be done year round by teens are now done by 30 year old immigrants with three kids in the school system. Importing an adult to flip burgers or mow lawns is a loosing proposition for society — but when a group has a plethora of ethnically-based organizations shilling for it, what’s good for society as a whole goes by the wayside.



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stari_momak

posted July 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm


Hmmm, most of the crowd in the ‘flash mob’ seems to have something in common. Can’t quite put my finger on it … but somehow they seem, well, different from the guy who was attacked.



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Catherine

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm


I’m sorry, but I missed the point that you may have been trying to make here. Crowds are challenging, and often times unruly and unpleasant (nothing new….. you take your chances.) Younger generations sometimes slip through the cracks on mannners and concideration; particularly when both parents work, and they may (or may not) be on their own a grat deal of the time. BUT I thought this was a Christian forum…. not just a place to vent.
There was no mention of prayer (for others or for your family), no mention of anything redemptive (that I could find.)
Maybe I am in the wrong Beliefnet section!



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thehova

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm


Rod, I’m not sure if you’ve been to a sporting event, but crowds tend to be much more polite. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I think it might stem from the fact that more conservatives typically attend sporting events and conservatives care more about manners and order.
Although, come to think of it, I’m not sure that will be true in Philadelphia…..maybe Philadelphia is the problem.



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thehova

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm


ha, I meant to say, “Rod, I’m not sure if you’ve been to a sporting event LATELY”. Heh, I’m sure Rod has been to a sporting event.
My dad hates crowds and the sense of disorder. But he love going to a baseball game, which is a very ordered affair. And they often have fireworks. So it might be a fun option to take the family.



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daisy

posted July 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm


Have you ever thought about going to a tiny little village somewhere? I think you’d be happier.



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Peter

posted July 5, 2010 at 12:10 am


Went to the National Mall this evening for the fireworks. It would have been Stari’s worst nightmare. Immigrants not speaking English, lots of brown and black people, even some Jews in yamikas. Not a single incident of violence or unrest.



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Erin Manning

posted July 5, 2010 at 12:11 am


My family and I just got back from a fireworks display in a small town about ten minutes away from the town we live in (our town doesn’t have its own display). It was absolutely lovely–our first time at this particular town’s celebration, but definitely not our last.
When we arrived, people were parking up and down the streets near the small park where the festivities were located. We crossed through the parking lot of the town’s brand-new, beautiful library, and made our way to the park just beyond. We’d never been there, so we were surprised by the bandstand–and the band setting up in it; we were also surprised that concrete benches near the band were still only sparsely filled, as most attendees seemed to prefer setting up chairs and blankets on the grass.
Since we hadn’t brought a blanket, we sat on the concrete benches, toward the front where the band was–though I was prepared to move in case the seats were reserved for the elderly etc. They weren’t. Several other family groups joined us, ranging from older couples to families with young children. The children were with parents or older siblings, and none of them were behaving badly.
The band, an all-volunteer band made up of members of this small community, started playing. They began with the National Anthem, for which everyone stood and many sang along; then they played some John Williams music, Sousa (of course), and some less-familiar pieces. They played with enthusiasm and skill, and lots of people around us were clapping their hands in time to the music. A family group walked past us, the little girl, probably about six, marching delightedly along to the Sousa march that was playing.
As the sky darkened the fireworks began to appear–directly over the library which was immediately behind and to the right of where we were sitting. I’ve never in my life been that close to the fireworks–it was amazing, magnificent! The band continued to play for most of the display.
When it was over, there was no mad, trampling rush to get back to cars. People started straggling out at a leisurely pace, talking and laughing with each other. There were police helping to ensure everyone’s safety, but they didn’t have to stop traffic for people to cross the street in front of the park and library–cars just stopped in a neighborly fashion to let the crowd disperse.
In hundreds of small towns all over America tonight, thousands of people experienced what I did. Maybe some big-city displays were like this, too–but maybe it takes the feeling of being among neighbors and friends to keep us all a little kinder, a little more friendly, a little more patient, and a little less selfish or pushing than we otherwise might be.



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Rod Dreher

posted July 5, 2010 at 12:25 am


There was no mention of prayer (for others or for your family), no mention of anything redemptive (that I could find.) Maybe I am in the wrong Beliefnet section!
Oh, right. “Dear Lord, if I ever get it in my fool head to go down to a Fourth of July event downtown again, especially the Ice Cream Festival, please strike me down. Or better yet, send a bear into the festival tent to devour the greedy urchins who don’t know how to behave in public. Thank you for listening. Amen.”
Satisfied?



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The Sicilian Woman

posted July 5, 2010 at 1:39 am


I forgot who made the comment about solving the problem of the all-you-can-eat ice cream thugs (did I really just write that?) by raising the price, but I think he’s onto something. Those people are the same mentality of those who trample people to death in Walmart (or anywhere else) as has happened in those Black Friday sales.



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TheFireird

posted July 5, 2010 at 1:45 am


I watched the DC fireworks from the Marine Corps Memorial this evening, and our whole party had a great time. We were a crew of young families with little ones, and there was nary a curseword, a fight, or quarrel. Everyone had a good, mellow time and then everyone went home and the worst part was the traffic. There were some exuberant teenagers being unruly in the good natured teenage way typical to school groups from the Midwest and South.
Incidentally, police presence was large and visible, and alcohol was prohibited. I don’t think the two are unrelated. I hate events with lots of drunks and few police.
I also agree that the rise of tattoo culture coincides with the decline of real culture.



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Grumpy Old Man

posted July 5, 2010 at 2:37 am


This is a black phenomenon. Time to face it.



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Geoff G.

posted July 5, 2010 at 2:59 am


This is one of those statements one simply has to roll one’s eyes at, like the kind of people who pine away for the lost authenticity of Times Square, when it had hookers and junkies and porn theaters.
Hey! I kinda like hookers and junkies and porn theaters! (You know who else liked hookers at least? But I digress….) They tend to be right smack dab in the middle of the most interesting neighborhoods (fun fact for M.Z.: there’s a very cool Belgian bar right across the street from an “inner city McDonald’s” and a few blocks down from a porn theater…that’s what’s cool about real cities: you get everything and everyone within walking distance, which is arguably no longer true about Manhattan). Besides, back before Disney took over the place, at least a trip through Times Square didn’t cost you a fortune.
I’ve been in some pretty massive events in my time…one of the biggest being when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and a spontaneous crowd formed on Yonge St. Lots of fun, no hooliganism at all from what I can remember. On the other hand, I also lived downtown, so I could walk to where the action was. No doubt if I had driven downtown, I would have been annoyed too.
Most recently, I was a volunteer for SLDN at this year’s gay pride celebration downtown in Denver. Tons of people, with no incidents at all that I either saw or heard about. I got there early (I opened the booth that day) so parking was no trouble at all…didn’t even pay (I knew where to go).
And lest you think it was all drag queens and guys in jockstraps (which sometimes seems like the impression the media would like to give), for me the highlight was running into a booth run by an immigrant woman, apparently from Morocco (she might have even been one of those Muslins I keep hearing about!), with some absolutely amazing food. Imagine that…a Muslim immigrant running a booth at the local gay pride and doing some outstanding business…not exactly the kind of story the xenophobic right would want you to hear about.
I think that points to the major difference between Rod and me. While we both do appreciate our space, I can’t possibly imagine living anywhere except in a city surrounded by lots of different people representing all kinds of different cultures (ethnic and otherwise).
Maybe it comes in part from being a member of a minority myself. Sometimes I hang out with my own group, but I also love being around people different from me too. But I can see how that might be overwhelming and put you on edge, if you’re used to things being a certain way.
And if you are on edge, you might pay a lot more attention to the few potential threats rather than to all of the wonderful people and things going on around you. You might be more attuned to the annoyances and the rulebreaking going on and less attuned to the fun people are having.
I actually agree with M.Z. on one point; the car is a really good indicator of the problem here. Rod’s coming into town with a suburban (and decidedly non-crunchy) set of expectations about how things will work: you drive right to where you want to be, find easily accessible cheap (or free) parking, and then walk a little way to wherever you want to go. Sure, maybe there’ll be a little traffic here or there, but things will generally move in accordance with the needs of the person driving a car.
But it doesn’t work that way in cities. A car is almost always a massive liability in a city, unless you’re filthy rich. You walk, or ride the bus, or bike, or ride the train or subway. Heck, re-read Theophilus’s post…even in a smaller city like Winnipeg, public transit is the way to go for big events. But the suburban mentality equates “bus” with “poor trash” and won’t even consider the possibility.
If you want to have a crunchy-conservative way of life, you pretty much need to live in a rural or small town environment. If you want a neocon way of life (drive everywhere, materialist, disposable, megachurch worshipping, everyone’s-the-same, faux-conservative), you live in a suburb or exurb.
But if you want a crunchy-interesting way of life, with lots of opportunities—artistic, cultural, intellectual, religious, even gastronomic—requiring lots of flexibility and adaptation, you live in a city. (And yes, I did just call “conservative” the opposite of “interesting”)



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Jon

posted July 5, 2010 at 7:36 am


Re: Besides, back before Disney took over the place, at least a trip through Times Square didn’t cost you a fortune.
Are they charging admission now? My one visit to NYC ten years ago I did wander through Time Square and it was totally free, other than the McDonalds where I paid rather startling prices for a value meal.
Re: A car is almost always a massive liability in a city
Geoff, I think you are overstating this. It would be true absolutely in NYC, but elsewhere not so much. I live in Baltimore, a stone’s throw from the Harbor. I do bike to work, weather permitting, and I appreciate the fact that most of the places I customarily go are within three miles so I spend rather little time in my car when I do drive. But the car is still a necessity. There’s no other way to lug groceries and garden supplies home, take cats to the vet, go places at night, or take the occasional trip to farther-out Beltway venues or out-of-town entirely. I do my best to avoid downtown dring peak hours, but otherwise it really isn’t too much a hassle driving in this city.
Re: But the suburban mentality equates “bus” with “poor trash” and won’t even consider the possibility.
Buses are a pain in the derriere, poor folk or no. They are a horribly inefficient way of getting places. When in college I rode the Ann Arbor city bus to classes (I lived on the outskirts of town, not on campus) during the winter, and the accursed thing meandered all over town on a route that resmbled a fractal, taking forever to get to campus; I could have walked faster! To be sure, some cities have express bus service: my older step-sister uses such to get to her job in downtown Minneapolis. She and other commuters leave their cars at a free parking lot on the outer loop beltway, and the bus whisks them downtown with no intervening stops, then circulates around downtown to get people reasonably close to their destinations.
By the way, I do agree with you about cities. I could see living in the country perhaps (well, maybe), or in a smaller city with its own history and character, but I absolutely do not want to ever live in suburbia again! Still you and I do not have children, and that changes everything. I think Rod’s main issues wth the crowd revolved around concerns for his kids. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like being a parent but I do understand it puts a different spin on everything.



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Knezdan

posted July 5, 2010 at 8:57 am


Rod: I wish I would have known that you were looking. There are many suburban communities that offer great fireworks without all the sturm und drang! We wathced fireworks at Avalon at the Jersey Shore. Sorry your “Welcome America” was not that welcoming.



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stari_momak

posted July 5, 2010 at 9:23 am


Sure Peter, providing ‘bread and circuses’, or at least circuses, to a heavily policed crowd which is substantially whiter than the city due to outside visitors (I’ve been to the Mall on the forth) can work out on occasion. But then again I can list occasions where similar large gatherings don’t work out (say, ‘Puerto Rican pride day in New York, 11 June 2000 — google it — or the ‘Mardi Gras’ in Seattle 2001. Or the recent ‘victory riot’ in LA after the Laker’s NBA championship. Or Rod’s ‘flash mob’, or New Orleans after Katrina…. but you get the idea.
But Peter, tell us. Do you live in Washington? Send your kids to DC schools? Assuming you have any. Even the Obamas and Clintons sent their offspring to 70% white Sidwell friends rather than 90% ‘black and brown’ local schools.



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Franklin Evans

posted July 5, 2010 at 9:40 am


With due respect to those whose contributions here are based on anecdotal examples — and while the focus of this topic is Philadelphia, one can extend the core facts beyond Our Fair City — I (and I believe Rod) am pointing to a generic phenomenon.
We can explore the various details, mechanics, and theoretical causes, but it comes down to a simple notion: When large numbers of people gather, what group dynamics can we expect and how will that particular crowd handle certain sets of circumstances?
I have an online acquaintance who used audio data to track and analyze group behaviors at football (soccer) matches in England. The data he gathered, and the personal skill he acquired, were telling.
Local police and security were very sensitive to the outbreaks of violence at matches. They were very frustrated that by the time they could show up at an incident, dozens of people would be involved and they had low expectations of being able to avoid it turning into a riot. My friend made hours of recordings of “crowd noise”, looking for correlations between the types of noise and group behavior, and found some startling things. He found that he could predict when a localized gathering was ramping up to violence, and used untrained ears to verify it. We react emotionally to noise, just as to sight and odor. As the tensions begin to build in a group, one can discern that increase by the changes in the sounds they produce.
A football match is a very restricted environment, to be sure. Extending that analysis to other sorts of gatherings could easily be problematic, and doing initial data gathering could be very difficult.
My point is that we can use common sense to measure situations. We can see a large group trying to cope with inordinate crowding, and while we will observe most people doing their best to tolerate, we can also observe that certain behaviors will act as immediate catalysts for bad outcomes.
Getting back to the mundane: Our culture, you know, the one some lambast as elevating the individual over everything else, has valid markers to it. The philosophical aspects remain arguable, but the practical ones are always there, and we don’t need to know if the perpetrators or majority are Christian, Bahai or New Agers. All we need to know is whether some minority — having been conditioned to expect passive surrender from others regardless of provocation — will show up and make everyone else uncomfortable.
If you want to point to a moral breakdown, extend that passivity to the neighborhood where one or two houses are occupied by bullies. In an era when police forces are minimal, where they can’t get to all the calls of serious crime like burglary, mugging or worse, why in the name of every god do people depend on them for social conflicts like excessive noise? What is wrong with six neighbors all knocking on the miscreant’s door together, civilly demanding that they stop their noise? What is rude about that? Where does it say, in the abstract philosophies touting the individual, that we must accept bullying or just plain rudeness?
At that level, I strongly suggest that complainers look in the mirror? Don’t like the inconvenience of excessive music at 2am? When was the last time you observed someone blocking a traffic lane to get their latte or dry cleaning, or worse did that yourself? Did you speak up? Did you observe others speak up? How did the bully respond?
Sure, these are all trivial things. But as symptoms of a greater malaise, of a society where “individualism” is all about getting mine and the hell with everyone else, and the complainers are doing it too, it should surprise no one that complainers like myself and Rod face ridicule and sarcasm in a thread like this. From my blog:
aleksandreia.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/feckless-ethics-or-the-new-pseudo-morality/
aleksandreia.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/parents-bad-parents-dangerous-parents/
aleksandreia.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/how-you-drive-shows-what-sort-of-person-you-are/



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stari_momak

posted July 5, 2010 at 9:50 am


I’m always struck at the combination of arrogance and provincialism of people like Geoff, who think that a ‘food tent’ at a gay pride parade represents anything resembling real culture. I’ve lived a lot of places, and travelled to a lot more, and let me tell you, some of the most monocultural (Japan, Korea, small town Bavaria, Spain) are among the most interesting and, more importantly, authentic.



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Indy

posted July 5, 2010 at 10:04 am


Bad stuff can happen anywhere, the causes just are different. You can be in a big noisy, overly “exuberant” crowd in the city and have things go wrong. Or not. You can be in a small town and have things go wrong. Or not. Look at this awful story from today’s New York Times, “Horses Kill 1, Injure 23 at Iowa Parade”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/us/05parade.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
The person killed was the wife of the man driving the carriage for which the horses bolted. Sad story.



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Kirk

posted July 5, 2010 at 10:26 am


Oh, please. Who said jackasses at a street fair were harbingers of the Apocalypse? Some of you people just go out of your way to find something to complain about regarding me and this blog. Go read something else if you don’t like it here.
Rod, you missed my point. If the lack of civility is caused (if only in part) by the decline in the influence of Christianity (as was suggested by a commenter, not you), then ISTM your cavalier attitude about church attendance will contribute to that decline. What does it teach your children when you sleep through the alarm for church but manage to get up every other day for work?
Captcha: this crying



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Franklin Evans

posted July 5, 2010 at 11:00 am


Kirk, I think I see where you are headed, and I don’t fault the focus, but you use a style of argument that puts a thing in isolation as rebuttal to a general case.
In your example, the fallacy is that isolated incidences will shape our children. The failure there is that raising children is about consistency of example, not just example. Do you acknowledge that no parent is perfect, no parent can be perfectly consistent in one or two things let alone everything? So, picking something like being exhausted and unable to get up in time to go to church as an exemplar of parenting just shows (and I don’t mean you are doing this capriciously) a vast ignorance of daily life with children, and that children don’t need much education or maturity to respect their parents as role models despite their imperfections, and especially despite their mistakes.
I never fault a parent for making mistakes. I will fault a parent for making the same mistakes over again, for failing to treat their children with the minimal respect of apologizing to them as warranted, and for failing to share their knowledge and experience as flawed adults so that their children in turn can be effective parents.



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Peter

posted July 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm


“But Peter, tell us. Do you live in Washington? Send your kids to DC schools? Assuming you have any.”
I did live in the District and sent my kids to public schools. I now live in an inner suburb and send my kids to public schools that are majority non-white yet send about 90% of the students to college



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John Beeler

posted July 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm


What? You mean Fluffya can be rude? That its people have attytood?
Seriously, those people were rude. What surprises me is you’re about my age and arguably have seen more of life and the world – you used to work in New York and DC, right? … and Dallas isn’t exactly Mayberry either – yet this shocked you?
High-church libertarian curmudgeon



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stari_momak

posted July 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm


majority non-white yet send about 90% of the students to college
Would that be a heavily Asian school? And why did you move out of the district — moving is, after all, an expensive proposition. Embrace the diversity, Peter.



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Peter

posted July 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm


“Would that be a heavily Asian school?”
Hispanic and African American. We moved to the ‘burbs because the suburbs in DC are more diverse than DC itself, in any ways. Most parts of DC are pretty white, something that you’d really love except for all the gays and jews.



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Mark in Houston

posted July 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm


At the risk of sounding like a spokesman for the NRA, I’ve noticed things like this tend to happen more in places like Philadelphia and Boston than Houston or Dallas. I wonder if the reason for that is because in the latter two cities, there’s a good chance that some of the middle-class dads in the festival crowd are legally carrying firearms, and the hooligans know that and thus are a little more careful with their behavior.
Captcha words: mismatch cities (no joke)



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Rick Road Rager

posted July 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm


These young “people” were just expressing their RIGHTS to Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness!!! Golly gee whiz; why do they have to put up with all those parents, kids and senior citizens who are in their way???
After retirement, I subbed in local area schools for about five years. The work wasn’t hard and the money was pretty good, but I finally gave it up! I reached the point where I wanted to reach out and either smack them alongside the head for their incredibly boorish and/or insulting behavior OR actually “kick their asses” out of the classroom.
Sad to say, I am beginning to see some of these kinds of behavior in my own grandchildren!! But at least their parents will support our efforts to help them raise reasonably civilized human beings. . . I hope.
All part of the Great Narcisstic Age in the good old USA, I guess.



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Peter

posted July 5, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Pennsylvania is a concealed carry state. There are plenty of armed middle class dads with guns in Philadelphia. It also has some of the highest gun-related violent crimes in the country.
There goes that theory.



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Mark in Houston

posted July 5, 2010 at 9:23 pm


“There goes that theory.”
Well, it was worth a shot. Ta-dum-psh!



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Geoff G.

posted July 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm


I’m always struck at the combination of arrogance and provincialism of people like Geoff, who think that a ‘food tent’ at a gay pride parade represents anything resembling real culture. I’ve lived a lot of places, and travelled to a lot more, and let me tell you, some of the most monocultural (Japan, Korea, small town Bavaria, Spain) are among the most interesting and, more importantly, authentic.
“Provincial”—You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Especially if you’re trumpeting some small town anywhere as not being provincial. Here’s a hint: small towns (and monocultures generally) are by definition provincial. The antonym would be “cosmopolitan,” which is certainly nothing that you would ever be accused of. Perhaps you’d better start hitting the ESL classes again Old Bean.
Incidentally, I’ll gladly match both your foreign travel and experience living abroad any day. It really doesn’t do to accuse someone of being “provincial” when they’ve spent time living in places ranging from some of the greatest metropolises in the world to small villages of 300 people or so (in the West Country, here’s a link so you don’t have to Google it to find out where that is).



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted July 6, 2010 at 12:42 am


Crowds suck, adolescent males in groups often behave boorishly, and people often behave badly when competing for access to free ice cream.
Did I miss anything?



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JasonM

posted July 14, 2010 at 11:38 am


Hmmmm… “Even City Council is more concerned with exacting reparations fro slavery than dealing with the school problems….” Anti-Asian pogroms in the Philly schools… “Hmmm, most of the crowd in the ‘flash mob’ seems to have something in common. Can’t quite put my finger on it … but somehow they seem, well, different from the guy who was attacked.”
I wonder, could there, just possibly, be a racial element here? Could it be that Mr. Dreher’s sense of fair play and Christian charity led him to be compelled to forbear to mention any physical description of any of these incivil young people? Could it be that simply stating the facts about bad behavior by African-Americans is considered “racist”?



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