Recent years have not been  encouraging for those who track social interactions for clues to the long-term health of American society.

An elected representative shouting, "You lie" at the President during a formal address to Congress. Protesters disrupting funerals of fallen soldiers with despicable messages. The boastful, the coarse, the hurtful, all of it has become acceptable in service of the newest constitutional right: My right to speak My mind, anywhere, anytime, in any fashion that suits Me.

If these things bother us, we tend to turn away from "those people" and hold onto to the hope that there are still bastions of civility in our personal and professional lives.

Multiple news sources report today that two ophthalmologists bound for last month's ASCRS meeting verbally accosted Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank on a Los Angeles-to-Boston flight. Witnesses report that the two had been drinking and loudly attempting to engage Rep. Frank in a debate over the recent health-care reform legislation, which they reportedly referred to as an "Obamanation." When he declined their challenges, tempers flared.

My word-for-word reaction when a co-worker first told me this story: "Sorry. I don't believe it. These are people who know how to act in public." I was wrong.

Anyone who knows me or has read this page knows that I take a backseat to no one in my respect for the skill, intelligence, training, dedication and compassion of just about every ophthalmologist that I've ever met. I'm privileged to cover this profession, without being a member of it. Regardless of their political views—and some have respectfully taken me to task for mine over the past decade—ophthalmologists have too much respect for themselves and their profession to engage in tackiness.

I don't know these doctors. But even without knowing them, I can say with certainty that they are intelligent, accomplished people who put themselves through an educational meat grinder to earn their position in society. Even if there was alcohol clouding judgment and fueling anger, even if the doctors did have legitimate concerns over the political direction of the country and its perceived impact on their chosen profession, the fact that two such people could engage in this kind of public behavior is truly disturbing for all of us.