Category Archives: Civility

Model Naomi Campbell in Trouble Again

Naomi Campbell is at it again.  She allegedly (that’s for legal purposes) bopped her driver hard on the back of his head, which thrust his face into the steering wheel.  He called the police; she ran away.  No charges were filed…again!

She’s been accused of violent outbursts since the Nineties – money is paid/so-called anger management is had/community service is requested – but because she’s a “supermodel,” the money/hype/power behind that has kept her from the appearance she should be making:  in JAIL, JAIL, JAIL.  Ultimately, there have been no consequences that make a difference to her, and her sense of entitlement has grown to huge proportions.

Some background on her I found on the Internet:  her father abandoned her and her mother at birth; her mother abandoned Naomi for a show biz career – Naomi was even involved in show business herself at a very tender age.  I can’t be sure without knowing her up close and personal, or from psychiatric work-ups in the anger management sessions she supposedly had, but she sounds very much like she has borderline personality disorder.  That does not mean she is insane.  She’s perfectly competent and aware of her actions and knows right from wrong.

Personality disorders are consistent patterns of behavior that negatively impact relationships and work.  People with borderline personality disorder are impulsive, unstable in their moods, and have chaotic relationships (where they go back and forth from “love” to “hate,” depending upon whether or not they are getting their way).  They tend to see things in extremes:  all good or all bad.  They also typically view themselves as victims of circumstance, and take little responsibility for themselves or their problems (which is why they generally don’t improve).

Their histories show abandonment in childhood, a disruptive family life, poor communication in the family, and sexual abuse.  Consequently, they experience feelings of emptiness and boredom, and displays of inappropriate anger, impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationships, binge eating, shoplifting, and more.

They don’t tolerate being alone, which brings me back to a reported quote by Ms. Campbell published in 2006 in the UK’s The Independent: “Anger is a manifestation of a deeper issue, and that, for me, is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness.”

It’s sad, but the reality is that if there had been serious consequences for her behavior (rather than her being allowed to dodge prison time), then she might be more careful with the well-being of others.

Why I Don’t Like Reality TV Shows

Why don’t I like so-called “reality” or “actuality” TV shows?   Because they’re mean.
They are intended to be mean, because “mean” is entertaining to some segments of the audience, and that scares me. 
Throwing Christians to the lions and watching gladiators fight to the death used to be considered wonderful entertainment in ancient times.  And while I’m not comparing actually killing someone with humiliating and demeaning them, there is a continuum here. 
Christians and slaves didn’t volunteer to become fodder for death to those eating popcorn in the stands.  The people on TV do volunteer to put themselves in situations which contribute to the demise of public taste, humane behavior, compassion and sensitivity.  They humiliate themselves for attention and profit.  That they volunteer for it doesn’t make doing it to them right.  It just makes them terribly pathetic.
When people go on an “American Idol“-like program in the hopes of being discovered for their talents, a simple “winning” or “losing” seems sufficient to me.  However, having judges who become popular by hurling horrendously insulting comments seems to be the real motivation for these programs.  Hurting people in front of others is an egregious act.  Televising it, or making money off of sponsors who support it, so that people at home can feel superior and powerful (because they’re not the ones being attacked) is purely disgusting.
These shows bring out the worst in people.  Martians watching our entertainment media would probably choose not to come to our planet, or else just wipe us off the face of the galaxy, because of how humanity displays itself on television (much less the Internet and the United Nations). 
No one is ashamed anymore.  They pass it off as giving the audience what it wants.  “It’s only TV,” or “it’s only a way to make a living,” they say. 

Apologizing Long After the Offense

Lately, I’ve been asked quite often by callers if it is “okay” to apologize to someone for a wrongdoing even years after the offense.  I can understand why that question might be asked.  It can feel a bit embarrassing to have to face someone and face up to what you’ve done.  It is worrisome that they might not be gracious about your apology.   It is possible that they might “lay into you.”  It may be that they say “You caused me so much grief and pain that I can’t forgive you.”  They might not even be willing to talk to you.  Or, they might say, with tears, “Thank you.  That means a lot to me.”

It IS a big risk to take.  But the most valued things in life do come with a big risk attached.  That’s part of what gives them value.

You must remember, however, that whatever their response might be, you are doing the apology not to wipe the slate clean (damage is damage, and some never goes away), but because true repentance requires that you do what it takes to repair the damage.  That includes the sincere…sincere…apology.  None of that “if you were hurt, then I’m sorry” nonsense.  That is pure annoyance!
So, if you truly have remorse (and are not just trying to manipulate someone into a situation which benefits you), then apologize…anytime…and tolerate their first and maybe second unpleasant reaction. 
Seeds take time to germinate, and coping with an apology means the whole thing is brought up again in their minds.  Be patient and understanding.  While they may never forgive you, know that you still did the right thing.

Conversation vs. Confrontation

Let’s talk about having conversations.  You read that right – I didn’t goof and actually mean confrontation, which typically is what I hear most about on my radio program.  It is not a good plan to think of trying to communicate something delicate or important to someone by approaching them through the lenses of battle, which is what confrontation implies.

There are ways to deal with another person on difficult issues that don’t necessarily feel like the throwing down of a gauntlet (an attack against which they have to be defensive).  The moment you get someone’s defenses up, the quicker the whole situation degenerates into a “lose/lose” predicament, usually making things even worse than they were.

If the information is to a loved one, start out with a “Sweetie” or “Honey” or something that sets the tone as one of friendship, love or caring.  Continue with the explanation that it is to improve the situation that you’re coming to them (because you don’t want the relationship hurt by misunderstandings or errors in judgment or word choice).   Then they know that you are not attacking them, but you are trying to preserve the relationship and they will be more open to hearing your point of view.

It’s also important to start out with some verbal “gift,” i.e., that you compliment them with sincerity by suggesting that you understand what their position might be, but that you’re confused, hurt, upset or worried that ________ [fill in the blank].  Remind them what you’ve meant to each other and how you want that to continue, and that this is a glitch which can be remedied with mutual consideration and understanding.

If you’re up against a reasonable, caring individual, things will go well. 

If you’re up against an unreasonable, self-centered human being, things will go well if you walk away.

Rule number “PRE-one:”  Don’t wait for emotions to fester.  Handle things as they happen before you work yourself up to the point that you can’t be reasonable.

Forgiving the Thoughtlessness of Others

The other day, someone made an honest comment to me about a gift I gave them – a rude comment, but an honest one.

This is the sort of circumstance I hear about a lot on my radio program.  Callers get very upset about some small moment of discomfort, stupidity, rudeness, thoughtlessness – you get my drift.  It sends them into a tizzy, because I guess they yearn for this perfect world where everyone else’s behavior conforms to what it is that makes them happy.

People are largely busy with their own lives, and they don’t always monitor their mouths or body language.  Sometimes, they’re prone to say things without consideration of how it might be received.

So, back to my story – I just laughed.  Look, my feelings can get hurt just like yours.  But since I am “Dr. Laura,” and because I have the experience of over six decades on the planet, I have learned to choose what will annoy me.  When you have friends and acquaintances, you have to  1) cut everyone some “stupidity slack” once in a while (as you would have them forgive you);  2) look at the totality of that person and realize that, percentage-wise, they’re “fine,” and 3) decide whether or not their action was intentionally meant to do you harm or was just a quirk of their personality.

When someone is downright evil, please avoid them.

When someone is simply a bit thoughtless of others, then put them in their place…in your mind, that is.  Know that they have this “quirky-ness” and in the future, don’t have expectations for them that are out-of-proportion.

You can still be friendly, and even be friends, once you accept their limitations.

So, if you don’t have a “goat” to get, they can’t get your goat!

Using the Web to Get Revenge

In a recent radio interview, I discussed the issue of “webtribution,” a term coined by Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal to describe people who use the Internet to get revenge – i.e., publicly to hurt another human being with whom they are not happy.

The Internet is anonymous, immediate, and gratifying in the moment.  In human history, vengeance is not unfamiliar – people haven’t changed that much.  Their means of delivering pain has evolved from poison, duels, clever rumors, and Machiavellian manipulation to the world wide web.  In some ways, damaging someone’s reputation is akin to murdering them, as their reputation is devastated world-wide and forever, making it difficult for them to function in private relationships as well as in the community and at work.

To quote The Wall Street Journal:  “Most of us have heard of someone posting naked photos of an ‘ex’ online.  Or writing nasty reviews for a restaurant or book, not because they dislike the product, but because they dislike the person who created it.  Or signing up an acquaintance for [unwanted] e-mail advertising lists.” 

My opinion is that it should be illegal, as it is immoral, to post information or opinion about people without identifying yourself.  Obviously, it is also cowardly.  Google and all other such carriers should not permit anonymity.  That would immediately change the complexion of what is posted, and I don’t think they’d lose business, except from those who use the Internet for evil (terrorists of the international and interpersonal kind). 

Serena Williams’ Foul Play

I’m a female and a Jew.  I personally know something about bias, bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination.  There is no doubt in my mind that I have experienced some (shall we say) “bad luck” in my life because I fall into these two categories, but there is probably not a person on the face of the earth who doesn’t have a similar (and probably worse) story to tell with respect to the natural tendency of people to band together based on commonality, from ethnicity to gender to nationalism.  Nonetheless, we have a black President with a Jewish chief-of-staff, and a female Secretary of State.

I’m seriously tired of people pulling the race or gender card to explain away their bad behavior.  Ultimately, we are responsible for our own actions.  This brings me to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open.  Serena was losing badly in the semi-finals to unseeded, unranked Kim Clijsters, and Clijsters had just beaten Serena’s sister, Venus.  The match was at the point where Clijsters was but one point from victory, and it was Serena’s serve.  She faulted on her first serve.  Instead of just going back to the baseline to serve again, she menacingly walked toward the judge, shouting and cursing her, pointing the ball and then the racket at her, as though she were going to strike the woman.  Allegedly, she said,“If I could, I would take this [expletive deleted] ball and shove it down your [expletive deleted] throat.”

The line judge went over to the chair umpire and tournament referee as the crowd was booing.  According to news reports, Serena said,“Sorry, but there’re a lot of people who’ve said worse.  I didn’t say I would kill you.  Are you serious?  I didn’t say that.”  But the line judge said she did say that, and that with the crowd noise, it was difficult for others to hear the specifics. 

I saw that video, and having someone with that venomous rage coming at me, screaming and cursing, shaking a racket in my face (especially since Serena had already smashed a racket earlier in the game when she committed an unforced error) would have scared me too.

Serena was only penalized a point, which, by destiny of timing, turned out to be the match point.  Clijsters would have won anyway – she was playing an amazing game, and she did go on to win the U.S. Open.

So, here’s a young woman, used to success, who couldn’t handle being humbled, and she robbed Clijsters of the good feeling of trumping a tennis goddess.  This is obviously bad behavior – very bad.  The bad boys of tennis games past were also known to behave badly, but, according to news sources, they never threatened the life or well-being of a judge.  This was scary and horrendous behavior. 

The first reaction of some was to scream “racism!”  Oh puleeze.  Was anyone saying she behaved badly because she was black?  NO.  Was anyone saying she was penalized for her behavior because she was black?  YES, and that is downright annoying and dumb. 

Online, someone posted a comment after the news item, which I think is “right on.”  Here’s an excerpt:

There are reasons for rules in competitive sports or banking or finance or education or society.  The reasons [for the rules] always have to do with participants being unwilling or unable to manage or discipline their emotions when under duress of any kind.  This duress…almost always manifests poorly, but often successfully.  Serena…lost her composure in the early stages of this match, played poorly, got behind, and faced almost certain defeat.  The foot fault (which many say was correct, many say “iffy,” and some say false) was critical, but not pivotal for Serena.  She could have played through it.  She had the serve.

But she had first-serve faulted many times, and had lost every second serve point to her opponent.  So, she gave in to panic, which led her to say some astoundingly aggressive things to the line judge, who, to her credit, stayed calm, objective, and within the rules.  The referee made the proper call, and Serena lost, and then lost again by backpedaling after the match, with cover-up comments and lame excuses. 

But this is an era when elites in all walks of life take the liberty of exposing their true selves without much consequence.  It’s called “privilege,” and it is, in my mind, the downfall of the American personality, and with it, the downfall of the nation – a little microcosm on a big stage.  Pride comes before a fall.

Truth is, she knew she had lost this match, even if that one linesman’s call was bad.  Instead of letting her opponent savor the victory point, she surrendered early.  Clijster swamped her and her sister, and Williams acted like a classless brat.  And classless brats come in all colors, genders and religions.  Point…game…match.

“Please” is Now a Fightin’ Word

When I was a kid at the movies and got a little carried away with giggles or chatter with my friends, all an adult had to say was “Shhhh,” much less something as aggressive as “Be quiet!” and all our little faces would turn red with shame, and we’d say “Sorry,” and slink down in our seats.

Now, you take your life in your hands you simply ask someone to please be polite.  Fuggedaboutit!  “Rights” (meaning you can do or say anything you damn well please, and if someone doesn’t like it, it’s their problem) have trumped everything from responsibility to compassion to courtesy to politeness.

Case in point:  The New York Post reported on what happened when a well-meaning woman simply asked a 21 year old loud, cell-phone chattering female to please lower her voice.  The well-meaning woman ended up in the hospital after newly purchased, very hot coffee was thrown in her face, her hands were covered in bites, and she was kicked in the thighs with the 21 year old’s high heels.

The cell phone assailant tried to escape on a bus, but the victim chased her down the street to a nearby subway station.  When police arrived, the victim pointed out her attacker, who was arrested on charges of assault, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon (the boiling hot coffee).  All this because the little twit was simply asked to keep her voice down.

I don’t go to movie theaters anymore, because too many people think it’s their own private media hall, where they can make loud conversation and a racket with their candy cellophane.  If you dare to just ask kindly for them to keep it down, most likely you will be barraged with profanity.  And those who are nearby, who must also be annoyed, keep silent – it’s the old “don’t get involved” syndrome, which contributes to fewer and fewer folks standing up for what’s right because others are too “wussy” to back ‘em up.

I love that many establishments “request” that cell phones be turned off, although I guess too many people either can’t read the signs, or think they’re somehow exempt because of their inflated sense of their importance above all others.

It’s getting to be a scarier world out there, and not just because of rogue nations, tyrannies with nuclear bombs, or terrorists with bomb-decorated vests.  It’s getting scarier in our own neighborhoods, because people don’t feel connected anymore.  There is a persistent “me vs. the world” attitude that is destroying domestic peace.