Etiquette in the News, Vol. 17, Issue 30

At times Etiquetteer has to wonder if people are actually behaving worse than they used to, or if the press is just writing about it more. Recent news stories of Absolutely Appalling Behavior have been more than distressing to Etiquetteer.

First, we have the case of a white man asking a black woman if her daughter showered before swimming in a hotel swimming pool. This is wrong on so many levels it makes the head spin. First, and most obvious, it's bald racism. Second, it's rude to comment publicly on the manners of total strangers. The excuse that he "was perfectly within his rights to ask such an intrusive question" is no excuse. We have the right to do many things that we should not do, and this is so very clearly one of them. If this man really did have concerns about the hygiene of a fellow hotel guest, he should have directed them to a hotel staff member. But the fact of the matter is, if he was really that concerned about hotel pool hygiene ("Google it"), he should have reconciled himself to going without a swim.

Next is the mysterious resignation of Harvard Pilgrim CEO Eric Schultz for "behavior that was inconsistent with my personal core values and and the company's core values and code of conduct." The mere phrasing of this statement, as well as the absence of any specific follow-up in the press, indicates that some Very Powerful People are trying to spare a scandal, and perhaps Mr. Schultz's reputation, as much as possible. Now everybody can have an off day every once in a while, but that usually doesn't lead to resigning from a high-profile position after a three-week investigation. And while humiliation should never be the goal of a public announcement, honesty should be. As distressing as this no doubt is, Etiquetteer hopes that more information will be forthcoming, if only to cease a lot of Unseemly Speculation.

Then there's the spectacular fall from grace about three weeks ago of Roseanne Barr after an especially racist tweet. (Etiquetteer is a bit late to the ball on this, as the rest of the world has already stopped talking about it. Sic transit gloria Dei nuntium.) This experience should prove to a whole lot of people, regardless of their views, that sharing every Random Thought in Your Head as it appears is not a very good idea. Let that thought marinate for a bit before firing into the Internet; you might feel differently about it in an hour. We must always remember President Lincoln's good advice to write the angry response to the letter - and then not send it.

Of course Etiquetteer never understood how Roseanne Barr could ever be considered seriously after her unpatriotic rendition of the National Anthem in 1990:

And since it's Father's Day, let Etiquetteer conclude with the words of his own Dear Father: "We must concentrate on lovely, pure, and virtuous things."