[LMB] OT: Apologies, Courtesy, and Taboo

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Tue Aug 6 20:02:09 BST 2019

On Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 7:52 AM Greg Hennessy <greg.hennessy at cox.net> wrote:

> When do you apologize for being a jerk?

There is a remarkable lack of understanding, these days, about the
difference between being polite and following taboo.

With politeness, or courtesy, or whichever of the various names to refer to
the practice one prefers, it's entirely about how things are communicated
and not the content of the communication.  There are courteous ways to
avoid arousing hurt feelings in others.  There are courteous ways to insult
them.  There are courteous ways to condemn a person and all their works.
There are courteous ways to damn them to Hell.  Mastery of the process
involves being able to communicate any idea without stepping outside the
bounds of communicative propriety.

Taboo, on the other hand, isn't concerned with how something is expressed,
but that it is expressed at all.  The recent argument dealt with a false
claim of taboo violation which, given the obviousness of its wrongness,
likely involved considerable dishonesty and at best self-delusion.

Apologies involve recognition of both an injury and a wrong; they are the
realization of a debt between two or more persons.  If any of those
requirements are absent, apologies cannot exist.

In this case, Greg Hennessy, all of the requirements are absent.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list