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In our view / 'Offensive' behavior

Let's be #@!%ing civilized

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In our wonderfully diverse society, people have different ideas about what constitutes "civilized" behavior.
On Sunday, Robert Sayegh, 37, was kicked off a commercial jetliner after a flight attendant overheard him complaining about a 45-minute delay to a fellow passenger, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"I was just kind of talking to the guy sitting next to me. I said, 'What is taking so long?' I said, 'What the 'F' is going on?'" Sayegh said. "I could see if I directed it at (the flight attendant), but I didn't even speak to him."
Regardless, Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 5136, which had finally been taxiing, turned around and police escorted Sayegh off. (At this point, smart money says Sayegh's fellow passengers would rate an on-time flight more civilized than a late one, even with a occasional obscenity. But a vote was not taken.)
Atlantic Southeast spokeswoman said the incident was under investigation, adding: "We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused." She noted that the airline put Sayegh, of Brooklyn, N.Y., on a later flight to Newark.
Very civil of them. It seems to acknowledge the flight attendant likely overreacted to Sayegh's comment. Complaining to a plane seatmate, and employing swear words, may not be polite, but if getting somewhere depended on passengers' good manners, well, where the heck would we all be then?
Sayegh, meanwhile, has made noises about suing. That's his right, even if some find it a typically vulgar American response. Doesn't Sayegh, a TV producer and author, have the decency to recognize the gift of his 15 minutes of fame? He just signed a letter of intent to turn his novel into a movie. Now people have actually heard of him.
Meanwhile, coincidentally, one of the hottest books around, even before it went on sale this week, is a "children's book for adults" by author Adam Mansbach titled, "Go the 'F' to Sleep."
The book grew out of his frustrations with trying to get his then 2-year-old daughter to go to bed. People either think it's genius, or offensive.
Newspapers, TV stations and mainstream websites use "F," or some variation, to tell the story told without offending anyone. (The phrase "It offends me" is so overused it's almost obscene.)
It's a darn difficult cultural tightrope to walk and talk.
As Sayegh told the Free Press, swearing is part of the Brooklyn vernacular. "We use curse words just like adjectives."
You don't Sayegh. And it's not just Brooklynites.
But just because everybody's doing it doesn't make it right, others opine.
There's no easy answer? Rats!

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