Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Boo? Yay? Neither?

Ohhhh, we have a con-TRAH-versy here in Kansas. Something that happened over the weekend has left my Facebook feed in an uproar and me thinking, "Huh--could I maybe, possibly, be wrong?"

Some background: It is March, and March brings Madness. Around here the madness has increased this year because the Sunflower State had two legit teams selected to participate in the NCAA basketball tournament. One of these teams (the University of Kansas) has been in the tournament every year since Adam first laced up high-tops in the Garden of Eden. The other  team comes from a school (Wichita State University) that has far less consistency in its basketball tradition, but has been a scrappy and appealing underdog for the past few years.

(That is all background and has very little to do with this issue, but now we're getting to the meat of the story.)

On Sunday these two teams had worked their ways through the first few games to play each other, and the governor of the state attended the game. This governor has been either (a) the best thing that has happened to the state since hard red winter wheat, or (b) the worst thing that has happened to the state since, well, ever. Those of us in Kansas do not believe there is a (c).

He is wildly divisive, is what I'm trying to say. You love his policies or you hate his policies, and there is no overlap whatsoever between those views.

Anyway, as Sunday's game was progressing the national television cameras focused in on the governor sitting in the stands. He was wearing a shirt that supported both KU and WSU. But as the crowd realized that the governor was on television it became pretty obvious that most of the seat-fillers in that arena did not subscribe to viewpoint (a) above. The boos rained down like hail on a new car. Holy cow, that crowd did not hold back in its heartily-expressed opinion. (The basketball commentators, obviously puzzled, theorized that perhaps the crowd didn't like his T-shirt, which was hilarious.)

Of course, I had to react to this on Facebook.

"Hahahahahaha!" was the start of my status update, and it wasn't a very sympathetic or respectful update. But then the (a)-sayers chimed in on their own status updates. "Disrespectful" was the kindest description those folks had of that crowd's reaction.

And that got me to thinking: Is an office-holder owed respect simply by virtue of the office he or she holds?

I would never support booing an office-holder at a forum that includes expression of ideas--at a speech, for example, or during a debate. Even if I completely disagree with that person's policies and viewpoints, I support freedom of speech and exchange of reason. If I disagree with a politician I have a vote and a stamp and I make my views known.

But the governor wasn't talking policy Sunday. He was attending a basketball game as the elected head of the state. He was chosen by the majority of voters, whether they now believe (a) or (b), and he had won the right to represent us on national television.

Was I disrespectful to laugh when he was boo-ed? And if so, are those who post nasty updates about the president disrespectful? How about those who boo the Queen of England?

What say you? (And please, as the best blog readers in the world, let's keep this discussion respectful.)


  1. My opinion is that people in general shouldn't get booed.

    But I guess I do especially think that someone in a position of properly-elected/appointed authority shouldn't be booed when they're not even doing anything boo-able at that moment. That is, if an elected official is giving a speech and says something everyone hates, I think the crowd could react by booing: booing what the person SAID, not who he/she IS.

    The proper way to boo an elected official for Who They Are is to either impeach them or not vote for them. Otherwise, when someone holds a position because they've done what is necessary to achieve that position, I don't think they should be booed for existing and/or for holding that position---even if I dislike the person intensely and disagree with all their politics.

  2. I don't think a person should be publicly "booed" while attending a non-political event. There should be a certain respect for someone who was elected, even if you didn't cast your vote for them. That doesn't mean I wouldn't find it kind of funny, if I saw it happening to someone I disagreed with. However, if it was someone I did agree with politically, I'd find the booing offensive, rather than funny.

    I think it is okay to boo someone if they are making a political speech. I think heckling and booing is an accepted form of disagreeing with a political opinion, although I think it should be done in a way that doesn't totally disrupt the speech.