They don't bill the annual Georgia-Florida football game as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" anymore -- and for good reason. Some people can't handle their "cocktails."
Indeed, all manner of boorish behavior can be seen outside such an event these days. Loutish drunks trying to pick fights with the losing side. Beer going airborne and spraying passersby. Trash everywhere. Couples unmindful that their bedrooms are miles away.
Authorities also arrested 125 for underage drinking outside the game this year. At least three people have died partying at the even since 2004.
Jacksonville deputies say the crowd was better behaved this year than last (maybe because the game wasn't close at the end). But St. Simons Police Chief Matt Doering said he was disgusted with game-related behavior in his community.
"It was the ugliest, (most) unruly conduct that I've seen in a long time," he said. "Littering was the biggest problem we had. They left behind an ungodly mess. The disrespect these people showed to our community was horrible." Other problems involved DUI, disorderly conduct and public urination.
It isn't just one event, of course. Public behavior has gotten coarser and coarser over the years as mores have changed, rules have been erased and family and church structures that used to set boundaries have deteriorated.
Government is left to pick up the pieces -- and the trash. But government is a poor nanny. It can't very well police civility unless the boorishness slips into criminality. Even then there aren't enough police to play hall monitor, and their time is better spent on other things.
It's up to us, in short, to police our own behavior.
We're not doing a very good job of it, either, and it shows up in our driving, our talking and cell-phone use in movie theaters, our lack of courtesy toward others and the language we use when children are present.
Add in copious amounts of alcohol and the passions of sport and the lines separating us from the animal world also blur.
If we no longer adhere to others' notions of propriety, then what of our own principles? The younger generation, for instance, is hyped up about saving the planet, which is all well and good -- but trashing a beach is hardly any way to show it.