DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I parked my car in a public parking lot, I noticed a car had a bumper sticker that read, "If you have nothing to say, just shut the
It could have used the H word, which I would not have objected to, but rather, it used the F word -- all 4 letters of it. If the person wanted to put that in some private location, fine -- but I thought exposing it to children (among others) in public view was inappropriate.
Since it was easily removable, I did so -- and threw it away.
I suppose I could have dropped it inside the driver's window with a note -- but someone that insensitive would surely have ignored my objection and put it right back. Waiting for the person to show up and confronting him/her was neither appropriate (who knows how long before he/she showed up) nor, these days, safe.
Yes, the First Amendment probably would say this was an illegal action on my part. How would you have handled it? (I could keep some paint in my car to paint over such situations, but that seems rather silly.)
GENTLE READER: Here is what strikes Miss Manners as silly:
Appealing to an etiquette authority to condone petty vandalism, and fantasies of worse.
Making light of the First Amendment to a journalist.
Miss Manners is no more charmed than you by the widespread public use of obscenities. However, she paid attention in civics class, which apparently not everyone did. So she knows that the protection of free speech means the protection of offensive speech.
Mind you, she condemns foul language. She just refuses to condone or to use foul behavior to do so. If you wish to protect children, she urges you to refrain from using objectionable words, even under stress; train your own children not to do so, and intelligently explain to them why it bothers you when other people do.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are your suggestions for ways to handle telephone solicitors for charities? I never heard of many of these organizations, and in any event, I've read that some fund-raisers may keep the lion's share of donations.
After verifying my name, each solicitor rattles off a long, prepared speech about the vital work of the charity. I wait until they reach the part about which donation level "best suits my needs," and reply: "Thank you, but I don't respond to telephone solicitations. Good luck with your campaign." Then I hang up. Despite their uninvited intrusion, I don't wish to be impolite to these people, but is there a way to cut their fund-raising spiels short?
GENTLE READER: Sure: Give the same speech you already give, but give it earlier -- the very minute that you realize that it is a solicitation. Miss Manners considers it a courtesy to the caller not to make him recite the entire speech when it is doomed to produce no result.