DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our new minister has a practice that I find disturbing and inappropriate. When he is notified that a congregant is ill or had surgery, he sends an e-mail (with details) to a list of about 30 people, including the entire staff and officers.
Since e-mail is easy to forward, anyone on that list could share the (sometimes sensitive) information with dozens of friends in just seconds. Is there anyway for me to politely suggest to him that this is an invasion of privacy?
GENTLE READER: There are a great many people today who have never heard of the concept of privacy. So Miss Manners is afraid you had better explain it to your minister.
This is best done with an example: "I know you meant well, but Mrs. Wigglesworth was embarrassed to have everyone know about the state of her uterus."
Lacking such an example, you will simply have to state how you would feel and suggest, somewhat forcefully if necessary, that the minister ask each person's permission before spreading medical reports. Let us hope that he is not rash enough to argue that there is nothing wrong with exposing the state of your body.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an awkward dilemma. We've all heard about people being fired for ranting online about their bosses, coworkers and company policy. Well, a friend of mine ranted about her F-ing boss on Facebook. Her boss is my mother. I don't want to jeopardize this person's career. What to do?
GENTLE READER: Jeopardize this person's career. Your mother may decide to be merciful, but Miss Manners assures you that no civilized person can allow his or her mother to be publicly insulted, deservedly or not.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: You have frowned on the wearing of medals or even school ties that were not of your own. However, is it all right to make an exception when your son or daughter whom you have supported through college gives you a tie to wear of the school that they attended?
Certainly I am not trying to indicate that I was a graduate of the school but only that I have a son or daughter who graduated from that institution.
GENTLE READER: You could argue that there is no essential difference between wearing your child's school tie and wearing a sweatshirt with the school's logo or putting its sticker on your car.
But please don't. Just as symbols are arbitrary by definition, so, Miss Manners must remind you, is their use. There is no logical reason that school ties are considered reserved for those who have attended the school, while other items of clothing can indicate any affiliation, from having donated children to just rooting for its team.
But so it is. If you encounter an alumnus who recognizes the tie, your explanation for your inability to indulge in old-school talk of your era would mark you as an imposter. You would not even have the comfort of pronouncing this snobbish, because, Miss Manners reminds you, you do want to advertise your affiliation with the school. That is not only understandable, but much appreciated by colleges, which have whole stores full of logo items exactly for that purpose.