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Sat, Feb. 23
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Column: Watch out: The manners police may come calling

Brits behaving badly? I almost choked on my English muffin when I got an email from my English cousin, claiming that the "anti-social behavior order," or ASBO, has been designed to try and curb unpleasant, boorish behavior. Any country that still has royalty cannot tolerate the type of "bad manners" that we Americans have become accustomed to. Have a neighbor who lets his dog bark all night? Perhaps a teenager in the neighborhood who bullies other kids? Let's slap them with an "anti-social behavior order." In other words, "shape up and act civilized!!"

How civilized are we? The erosion of manners, kind deeds and socially acceptable norms has led the British government to take decisive action. This is sort of like the "polite posse," sent out to make sure that people don't yell vulgarities at each other, disgust their neighbors with bad manners and deface public property (from littering to graffiti). Kids skipping school and people yelling at each other in public places can result in arrests, fines, or even being banned from their neighborhoods!

A man in Chino Valley emailed to say that he is sick of his neighbor's front yard "junk pile" that continually expands each month. Old cars, mixed with tools, antique plows, rocks, a woodpile and an old boat have caused a "huge eyesore." What's a neighbor to do? If we only had an "anti-social behavior order," perhaps this issue could have been resolved. Anything that is deemed "upsetting" to the average citizen and "intolerable" to the common folk, may qualify as "bad behavior." Hmm... this could get complicated.

I have emailed Sheriff Joe Arpaio to get his opinion of an "anti-social" initiative. He has yet to email me back. Is that rude behavior, not to answer your email? (Only kidding, Joe). I can see Sheriff Joe taking on such a measure with his usual gusto. Citizens beware, the posse may be poised at all of the usual venues where people might behave badly - gas pumps, sporting events, crowded lines, busy shopping malls and parks - where some folks let their doggy make doo-doo and don't pick it up! Remember, acting civilized could become the law, not just a choice.

The "civilized" people of the world are fighting back! No longer we will put up with road rage, public rudeness, drunk drivers, neighbors from hell with their barking dogs, littered yards, loud music, and crude behaviors! Anti-social deviants beware: your party may be over! Just last week a woman in Prescott Valley called to say that her neighbor goes out to get his newspaper in his boxers and "it's a terrible sight." Unacceptable - definitely offensive! Guilty as charged.

A couple in Prescott who seem to have a shouting match on a weekly basis, stressing out everyone living on their cul-de-sac, would be charged with "upsetting the peace and quiet of the neighborhood." This could carry a huge fine. A clerk at the local grocery store who claimed that her job would be easy except for the occasional "rude people" could slap those cheeky pests with a "bad manners" fine.

A kinder, gentler society? Let's see if the "rules of good behavior" will make their way across The Pond. Feeing like displaying poor manners? Do it in the privacy of your own home! We must practice restraint when we're feeling a bit annoyed or irritated. Civilization, as we know it, survives only if we behave. It's not war that may kill us, but the constant erosion of sweet, polite, respectful manners. Cutting in line, flipping off other drivers, demanding refunds, yelling at people, creating "eyesores," acting rowdy, being impatient, rude, crude, mean and nasty may soon become outlawed behaviors!

Dear Readers, let us sweet, pleasant folks unite! I have more to say on this topic, but I believe Sheriff Joe is trying to call me. From bad manners to tent city? Hmm, pink underwear could be next. Not sure what is considered "proper manners?' Just act like a Brit. No accent needed.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and local realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.

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