Clearly, piq has had some bad times in the South, and that is regrettable. I would remind him, and of those who share his views, though, that while clearly not everyone enjoys living in the South, some of us Southerners are quite happy here. In fact, I would suggest that *most* of us are happy where we are - else we would pack up and move.

My experiences in the South have been completely different from piq's. I should preface this by saying that I live in North Carolina - certainly not part of the Deep South, but this is about Southern culture in general. I have never felt uneasy asking for help, directions, or anything, anywhere in the South. I get lost in Charlotte, I can ask someone on the street where to go, and get directions, a smile, and a "have a nice day." Try that in New York. See how many people smile at you, or even pay attention when you're trying to ask how to get somewhere. Hell, see how far people will go to avoid making eye contact. It's a fun game. Point is, people don't just put on a show of smiling and such - in my experience, they mean it!

And speaking of meaning it - a number of us do do our best to act in a civilized manner, particularly in public. People scoff at the whole "Southern hospitality" thing, but it is very real, and it truly plays a role in determining our courses of action. It is part of the values we grow up with, and it may be that if you don't grow up with it, it's hard to understand. I surely can't speak for all Southerners, or even a small portion of them, but I can speak for myself - and when I hold a door open for a lady, or pitch in to get a car out of a ditch, or even do something as simple as make eye contact and smile back when someone's smiling at me, I don't do it on account of I want to uphold some sort of image about the South. I do it because the way I was brought up, it's the right thing to do.