Wednesday, June 11, 2008


How should one behave at a graduation ceremony?

Making news this week were the arrests of seven people in South Carolina, at two separate graduation ceremonies, after they yelled following the naming of graduates whom they apparently were happy for. This, despite multiple warnings from the school administration that this was not to be done. Of course, when interviewed, they both downplayed the "disorderly conduct" and complained that others did the same thing without being removed by police.

A high school (or college) graduation ought to be a formal time of congratulations—when the accomplishments of four years of honest and significant work are honored. The primary complaint in the SC story was that the yelling by one group made it difficult for the next person to get their appropriate due, or even to have their name heard. While true, I think a more significant issue is present: A ceremony of honor should not be equated with a sporting event or other, less significant event. We don't yell in church. We don't yell at weddings or funerals. We don't yell during a significant speech. To keep oneself quiet while someone is honored is to place attention upon the honored one, and off of oneself.

And this is both appropriate and proper.

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