DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a licensed psychotherapist, I am being bombarded lately by clients, as well as by friends and family, asking how to deflect those who are inclined to rant and rave about politics.
Am I correct in first stating that in mixed company -- i.e., when one does not know for sure what others who are present believe -- one should always refrain from discussing religion and politics, and that doing so is actually a breach of etiquette?
May I then suggest that they might say something like, “I agree that what’s going on in the world today is distressing, so I’d like to enjoy our time together today. By the way, did you see such-and-such movie that came out recently?” Is this acceptable?
GENTLE READER: Sure. Just make sure that you caution these people against telling the ranters that they are being rude. You can trust Miss Manners that reciting etiquette rules to offenders who are minding their own business, however unpleasant that business may be, is not a polite -- nor an effective -- way to teach manners.