What It Means When Even Michael Nutter Thinks We’re A-Holes

This isn't about the murder rate. It's about our city's lack of basic human kindness.

On Saturday night, a 23-year-old Temple grad was beaten to death by strangers because he yelled at an inconsiderate cab driver. Way to go, Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter was right. We are assholes.

What does it mean when your city’s biggest cheerleader is sick of you? It means it’s time for a change.

Only 16 days into 2012 and the city already has more murders than dates. In the first 14 days of the new year, our city suffered 14 homicides. Life doesn’t get much grimmer than that.

Blame the economy, joblessness, a struggling education system, a lack of police on the street, or a breakdown of family values. In small ways, all of it is true and none of it is true, but the takeaway is simple: Philadelphia is full of people—idiots and assholes, according to Mayor Nutter—who think that violence is the answer.

But violence isn’t the city’s only problem when it comes to interpersonal relations. This isn’t exactly a newsflash for residents, but we’ve gotten ourselves a reputation for being a little, um, ornery most of the time. Maybe it won’t stop the assholes from beating an innocent kid to death, but it would certainly help morale—and maybe prevent a few senseless acts of violence—if we could all just try being a little nicer to each other.

Move your backpack off the bus seat so the old lady can sit down. Hold the door for the person behind you. Don’t pee anywhere besides the bathroom. (Lookin’ at you, Mummers.) Use a trashcan—especially if you’re in Center City and there’s one on every corner. Instead of sucker-punching the dude who cuts in line at the bar, perhaps, just say, “Hey, I was next.” Don’t block the box.

I’m not suggesting we do anything crazy like say hello to our neighbors or volunteer at homeless shelters. But maybe, just maybe, if we all make tiny efforts individually, we, as a city, can collectively stop being assholes.