Roger Simon: In America, incivility is the new normalROGER SIMON
June 12. 2012 10:48PM
Would you believe me if I told you that 82 percent of Americans believe the media are more interested in controversy than facts and that 62 percent find the media's tone 'uncivil'?
Yes, I'm sure you would.
Also, two-thirds of Americans are tuning out political advertising, and 54 percent are tuning out election coverage.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans 'have lost hope that our political parties can discuss matters civilly.'
Only 17 percent of Americans have not experienced uncivil behavior in their own lives, with our most frequent encounters occurring while driving (60 percent) and shopping (49 percent).
Some 34 percent of us experience uncivil behavior at work, and 28 percent of us have to deal with it in our immediate neighborhood.
And what do we do about it? We wait for Apple to come out with an iDrone so we can take our revenge. No, wait, that's not part of the new study I am unveiling today.
Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, in partnership with KRC Research, will soon release its survey, 'Civility in America 2012,' and I have been allowed an early look.
And just in case you were planning on feeling good today, don't bother. A majority of Americans say incivility will get worse in America. Why?
Politicians bear the brunt of the blame (63 percent), government officials (57 percent), the economy (57 percent), America's youth (55 percent), media (50 percent), celebrities (42 percent), corporate America (42 percent), Internet/social media (38 percent), sports figures (29 percent), cellphones/smartphones (23 percent), and Twitter (21 percent).
Wait. Twitter is the least uncivil aspect of American life? SMDH.
But what is uncivil behavior? To me, uncivil behavior is anything you do that I don't like, including clipping your fingernails in public. (C'mon, get a room.) The study, based on an online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, says civility is 'polite and respectful conduct and expression.'
Like there's a lot of that going on. 'We are suffering from a national civility disorder that is leading us down an unhelpful and unhealthy political path,' says Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate.
Asked to rate groups, media outlets and individuals from most to least rude, the public came up with these uncivil/civil ratings:
Political campaigns: 76/18; government: 69/25; pop culture: 65/24; American public: 63/32; media: 62/31; schools: 62/30. (The full rankings and study are linked in my column on Politico.com.)
Rudeness is becoming the new normal. One year ago, 33 percent of Americans accepted incivility 'as an inherent part of the political process.' But this year, that figure has risen to 40 percent. That's an increase of more than 21 percent in just one year.
'Thus, the shock value of contentious and uncivil discourse may be wearing off,' the survey concludes.
Some 44 percent of Americans say they ended a friendship or other relationship because of rudeness; 39 percent said they defriended or blocked someone online; 23 percent said they quit their job; and 13 percent said they moved their residence.
'To maintain our democratic and open society, we must find common ground,' says Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick.
I have crunched my own numbers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the resident population of the United States is 313,715,956.
If I subtract those who are uncivil and then subtract the very young and the very old who cannot be blamed, plus people who pretend to be civil to our face but stab us in the back, that leaves just two people in the entire United States who are actually civil: you and me.
And I'm not that sure about you. Creep.
Roger Simon is POLITICO'S chief political columnist.