H-CENTRAL COAST

Nov 12, 2012 9:22 PM by Kathy Kuretich

Are we becoming a rude society?

Has this ever happened to you... and does it even bother you? Someone walking down a public stree has to clear their throat and does so by spitting?

We asked a few folks on the street in San Luis Obispo.

"I'm guilty, but never in front of other people," said Steve Murphy of Morro Bay.

"That has always been offensive," said Arlene Bruener, a tourist from Washington.

Just look around you and you'll see it happening daily. It's gross, but is it against the law?

"There's nothing on the books for people that spit in public," said Captain Chris Staley of the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

But in some towns, like Daytona Beach, you could be arrested.

What about swearing in public?

"It's very, very prominent," said Murphy.

"I think the f-bomb is the most offensive of all," said Bruener.

Again, it's not against the law, according to San Luis Obispo Police, unless you're trying to incite violence, but this loose-lipped trend has become so problematic in one Massachusetts town, they passed a law... say a curse word, pay a fine.

"I don't think anyone's mom or spouse should be subjected to hearing that kind of language going downtown or anywhere else," said one Massachusetts man at the public hearing.

But, is that what has become of us? Laws and fines need to passed to keep our - how do I say this without being rude - less polite members of society in line?

"I think today we have a generation of parents who are afraid to reach out to their kids and teach them values that are so important," said Bruener.

You've heard the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all." But since the birth of the Internet that old school of thought is no where to be found... where people of all demographics let their various opinions fly, regardless of who they may hurt.

"People are more willing to make personal attacks on somebody than they would be if they were speaking face to face," said Cal Poly Associate Professor Lewis Call, who teaches a history of the Internet course.

"When you go on line, suddenly the consequences disappear so people can be as rude or obnoxious as they want to be," said Call.

We, at KSBY respect and appreciate our viewers - and all the opinions we get.

About 90-percent of the comments are thoughtful and insightful, but then we get other emails and comments on Facebook, which are intended to hurt... and said with spite.

Not to be rude - we've kept out who said it and who they were talking about.

Here's one example:

"They are so giggly and stupid, waving bye-bye at the end of the news.

They need to go bye-bye. The minute they screw up their lines, we change the channel. I've not made it past 4.5 minutes."

And it's not just us on-air people who get it. On our Facebook page, insults run rampant, especially during elections. Here's a sampling of recent comments:

"I just really hope this girl has not procreated. If she has, I just hope her children find their way and don't inherit her illiteracy and bigotry."

And one more:

"Communist president.. legalized drugs... same sex marriage... what a wonderful country we live in. Our kids will grow up to be lesbian hippies. Fantastic."

Professor Call said behind a computer screen people can feel more powerful, and some take on other online identities.

"They start to feel that that online existence has more reality for them, more reality for them than their real world persona does."

But it doesn't mean, those words don't hurt and offend their targets.

"Somewhere out there there's a person who's sitting in front of their computer, and they can be very upset and have a very emotional response, but the person who made that remark, they wouldn't see that, they wouldn't know about it," said Call.

Studies show there are benefits to treating others well.

Experts say, a polite person feels better about themselves, they're more successful at work, have more friends, and a happier home life... because they value human relationships.

Big payoffs, just for being nice to each other.

A 2011 poll from Rasmussen Reports found 76-percent of people surveyed said Americans are becoming more rude and less civil.

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