Manners took quite a hit this year. Socially conservative types have bemoaned the decline of common decency for decades now, but the past 12 months have made even the most forgiving among us sit up and take notice. Here are the five newsmakers who committed this year’s most appalling public acts of impoliteness:
5) Serena Williams
When a line judge at the U.S. Semifinals made a questionable call, Williams had some choice words for her. Among them: “If I could, I would take this #^%*&! ball and shove it down your #^%*&! throat.” It didn’t stop there, as Williams continued cursing, yelling, and menacingly shaking her racket at the judge. Thanks to her unsportsmanlike conduct, she lost the match and has since been hit with an $82,500 fine.
4) Kanye West
YO SERENA I’M REALLY HAPPY FOR YOU AND I’MMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT KANYE WEST HAD ONE OF THE MOST DISRESPECTFUL OUTBURSTS OF ALL TIME. OF ALL TIME! Not only did Kanye ruin poor little Taylor Swift’s big VMA moment (and ultimately give her career a huge boost), he spawned an internet meme that’s given the masses a brand new way to disrespect one another in cyberspace. Pretty impressive fallout for a few seconds of Hennessy-fueled buffoonery.
3) Teabaggers and Town Hall Protesters
I’m all for free speech and healthy debate about the activities of our government, but these rabblerousers took the discourse entirely off the rails. You don’t have to agree with health care reform, but is it really necessary to bring guns to town hall meetings and compare the President to Hitler? And as for the protesters who ran into some trouble writing their signs — “Obama Is A Half-Breed Muslin,” “NO PUBIC OPTION!”– at least have enough respect for your adversaries to hit up the spell-check.
2) Joe Wilson
This South Carolina congressman was apparently so overcome with righteous anger that he felt the need to express himself in the middle of a presidential address to Congress. For his “You Lie!” temper tantrum, Wilson was rewarded with millions of dollars from his supporters and lots of publicity. But he didn’t get off scot-free: the House of Representatives passed a resolution reprimanding him, and the Democratic challenger for his House seat also received a windfall of cash after the outburst.
1) The Salahis
Say what you will about Joe Wilson’s outburst in Congress, but at least he was supposed to be there. The Salahis were much too hungry for reality TV fame to let little things like invitations or presidential safety get in their way, so they crashed the White House State Dinner for India’s Prime Minister. And they were so proud of their accomplishment that they posted photos of it on facebook.com to brag about the big-wigs they hobknobbed with. Their antics went beyond mere tackiness — they’ve had real consequences. “Gatecrashergate” exposed a gaping hole in the security of President Obama, landed his social secretary in hot water, and resulted in three secret service officers being placed on leave. Where the Salahis are concerned, calling them “rude” would be the understatement of the year.
Dishonorable Mention: Tiger Woods and His Ten Merry Mistresses
Unlike the rest of the shameful characters on this list, Tiger’s (many, many) disrespectful acts were initially conducted in private. But since the car accident that blew this story wide open, there’s been a never-ending stream of Tiger’s former jump-offs looking to get their 15 minutes in the spotlight by snitching. The actions of Tiger and his ladies are not only disrespectful to his wife and children, but are an affront to common decency in general. This list would’ve been incomplete without acknowledgment of Tiger’s sordid tale.