I think it started with, "You lie!", those famous words from Congressman Addison Graves "Joe" Wilson, Sr. (R-SC), when he disagreed with something President Obama was saying in his State of the Union Address in 2009. Of course, he was a republican, and of course he was from the south, and of course he was yelling this to our first African American president. Say what you will about whether Mr. Wilson would have shouted this out, or even shouted at all if the president had been white, there are still some very hurt feelings that prevail in certain parts of the country, that have to do with a particular side losing in the most pernicious war of our history. Etiquette, gentlemen, etiquette, unless of course the application would apply to certain American subgroups previously denied access to the White House as a permanent resident. In Mr. Wilson's district, I guess, of which he is the role model, one applies the rules unequally when it comes to respect. Why Mr. Wilson chose such an august occasion to change the tenor of the traditional rules of congressional conduct such an event as a State of the Union speech can most likely be traced back to the decision by one, Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati, to mount a television show showing us just how dysfunctional regular Americans can be given the opportunity to act out in front of a camera.
Mr. Springer launched his show in 1991, and advertised it as an alternative to Phil Donohue and his ilk, but the ratings were not satisfactory and in 1994, he and his producer revamped the show to include "regular" families in scripted fights and public disclosures of heretofore private circumstances. Springer came by this naturally, we are to, assume, as he was once arrested for soliciting a prostitute while on the Cincinnati city council. He was found out through the fact that he had written the hooker a check and the check had bounced. This reaffirms my own personal notion that there are certain categories of people in the world that you do not piss off, and one of them would seem to be prostitutes. In any event, ratings exploded, which left the more sedate programming scrambling to catch up.