Friday, 26 July 2013

Being Polite

"I don't see why you have to swear about it"

"I have been perfectly polite, while you have resorted to dirty language"

"I can't debate with you if you persist in that tone"

I've heard the above, or versions of the above, a whole bundle of times. And it's always an arse to shoot down, because when I do want to shoot it down as a nasty, mean, dismissive thing to say I'm almost always really really angry. So I thought I'd put up a piece here that you or I can just link to whenever someone tells us we are not debating them by the gentleman's set of rules, that explains why we're not. As politely as possible.

Remember, readers- it'd be rude not to read the whole thing.

Here is why I am not being polite:

1) You are not being polite.

That is the entire reason.

But it would of course, be rude not to provide details! Allow me to explain via the magic of metaphor.

Imagine that you have been invited to a fancy dinner party. Not a fun 'fancy dinner party' with your regular friends all having a giggle at how dressed up everyone is, but a genuine high-class dinner party with seven courses and a discreet musician in the corner you are not supposed to speak to. You arrive, and everyone is having a marvellous time. You've remembered all your manners; you are courteous and careful, and your anecdotes are amusing but not crude. The conversation sparkles, as do the aperitifs.The first course is a delicate asparagus pastry, followed by a lemon and ginger salad and then a tangy gazpacho which you neither slurp nor spill. The raspberry sorbet is sharp and clean. The steak on black bean noodles is delicately seared and perfectly flavoured, and you correctly identify and compliment the star anise glaze. Then, as the consommé that will act as the palate cleanser between the steak and the monkfish arrives, you lean over to your host and ask her, if she would be so kind, to discreetly hand you a napkin so you can wipe yourself off after you urinate in her soup.

Some things are aggressively rude no matter how politely you suggest them.

What's likely to have just happened in our conversation is that you have, very politely, asked for something, assumed something, or stated something staggeringly impolite. And then you've had the audacity to demand that I phrase my response to your incredibly insulting actions in a way of which you approve.

Frankly, you might as well just piss in the soup.

If you say something that's a display of extreme bigotry, do not expect politeness in the responses of the people you have insulted. Instead, treat the "fuck you" you've almost certainly received as the shouts of someone whose foot you have just backed over with your car. You've hurt them. You don't get to demand that they express that hurt, that anger, in a way that is acceptable to you.

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