Friday, 18 Jan 2019

Miss Manners: Bring the social rule "no political speech"

Dear Miss Manners, My husband is a Republican confirmed in a social environment of blue left state. We like to joke that our marriage is mixed: Democrat and Republican.

A little political discussion added spice to our friendly meetings. These discussions were to be started by both parties and ended with my husband's defense against a room full of conflicting parties. I proudly add that he could defend himself and keep his cool.

However, one of our friends, whom we have been trying to see for several months, recently confided that she was avoiding us because she did not want to attend a party with my husband because of his political views.

She and her husband were, we thought, close friends. We took a vacation together and we met frequently. She has not called since, but she sent us an invitation to a holiday cocktail party.

We refused, thinking that it would be both awkward and pathetic to appear at such an impersonal gathering after his meeting. Needless to say, rejection hurts both of us. We would like to think that our lively conversation on many topics would be sufficient compensation for a difference of opinion on a subject.

Although we hate to lose friends, we see no way to remedy the situation. Do you have any suggestions?

Invite them to a party. After all, they made an opening by inviting you. And announce that you invoke the old rule against political speeches at social events.

You will say that civilized people must be able to express their differences without rancor and listen to each other, and Miss Manners would agree in theory. But not, nowadays, in practice. People are too raw. And even if your husband shows admirable respect for people with differing opinions, others may find it difficult to do so.

You may remember that the rule also prohibited social conversations about religion and sex. Sophisticated people make fun of such restraint. But Miss Manners can think of situations where social conversations about abortion and gender identity might not be a nice party.

Dear Miss Manners, It pains me to see so many people still smoking cigarettes. You see, I have been smoking for about 10 years and I stopped more than 40 years ago. Last year, I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Fortunately, thanks to immunotherapy, my prospects are good. Would it be polite to distribute cards to strangers in the street stating, "Please, stop smoking." I quit smoking more than 40 years ago and I've still cancer "?

And would you have stopped earlier if a stranger had given you a card? Especially a card stating that stopping smoking is not a protection against a possible illness? Could not these people decide that like quitting smoking did not help you, they might just as well continue to smoke?

With sympathy for you and appreciation for your concern for others, Miss Manners hopes to dissuade you. You are probably not a doctor and you are definitely not the doctor of these strangers. You may not even be sure of the relevance of your antecedents, because while smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, there are also other causes that have affected even non-smokers.

And what you would certainly be talking about is embarrassment and maybe anger.

The new columns of Miss Manners are posted from Monday to Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website,

2018, by Judith Martin

Miss Manners

Judith Martin, Nicholas Martin and Jacobina Martin


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