Own It or Shut It – Manners Matter

You may or may not have heard of Judith Martin. For many decades, she has written a column called Miss Manners. It’s a combination of etiquette and humor, as evidenced by some of her book titles – “Miss Manners’ on Painfully Proper Weddings” or “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.” Since my name was Judith Martin, I felt I had to check out her work, and agreed with both her judgement and her wit. She’s a lot of fun to read. 

The fact is – manners do matter. 

In a 1995 interview, she said, “You can deny all you want that there is etiquette, and a lot of people do in everyday life. But if you behave in a way that offends the people you’re trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you…There are plenty of people who say, “We don’t care about etiquette, but we can’t stand the way so-and-so behaves, and we don’t want him around!” Etiquette doesn’t have the great sanctions that the law has. But the main sanction we do have is in not dealing with these people …”

So we will take the Gospel According to Miss Manners as our text for today. 

Hate mail is rolling in at high tide these days, and it’s both predictable and boring. Never do I get an original thought or creative idea from these folks – just a repetitive, here-are-the-usual-talking-points, you are so wrong, and I despise you – usually about a paragraph. That seems to be all they can sustain. AND – no real name. 

It’s the same song and dance no matter the conversation – rent control, police reform, wear a mask- it’s as if there was a memo sent out every week, and they all have sworn a vow to repeat it as often as possible. 

Despite the almost constant reminders here that if you don’t sign your real name we will not publish you, they do not sign their real names. 

One of my columnists got a comment from JSmithdoe recently – can you even have less imagination

I admit I got into a long back and forth with someone last month over a letter to the editor – and then discovered on social media that this was not a real person either. The end of what I’m sure they felt was a promising relationship; but anyone I’ve not met personally is a possible Russian bot. You can pass a few simple tests – most don’t – but I’ll keep testing.  

The Police and Community meeting online last Thursday was such a textbook example of people bashing the Chat sidebar it became embarrassing. I typed in that we needed better manners. Someone with no manners was so offended, he followed me home to bully me about it.

After the community call, a text on my phone went after me about comments I had made on the chat. I said I stood by my comments. Twice I requested that they identify themselves, and they did not. So, I blocked the number. As Miss Manners so wisely notes, if you cannot behave yourself, we can choose not to deal with you. 

Culver City Crossroads follows the same standard that other respected media sites do. We are open to hearing from anyone in Culver City. You may even notice that some of the real people who write and sign real comments and real letters have ideas that are provocative. They may be calling out authorities over policies that need to be changed. They may be offering an observation to help other locals. They might even be pointing out something that you did not yet know. That is what local journalism is supposed to do. 

Those of you who feel you must complain, but cannot own your remarks – your cowardice is truly pathetic. Our editorial policy is very tolerant of a wide range of opinions, and very specific on what is acceptable form. I can assure you that the time you spent copying down the talking points and thinking up today’s pseudonym is far longer than the moment I spent deleting your false name and disposable email address. 

As Miss Manners herself would suggest, one does not have to attend every argument that one is invited to. Besides, that is why Facebook exists. 

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang

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