DEAR MISS MANNERS: Not only am I, like so many others, having to grapple with the threat of COVID-19 contamination, but also with the increasingly vitriolic political situation that has divided my friends and family. Therefore, I’ve put signs over my front door that read “MASKS MUST BE WORN,” and “NO POLITICS,” as well as similar placards throughout the house, particularly near the dinner table.
Some have already said that this approach is laughable and makes me a rude host, even mentioning infringement of free speech.
Normally, I might agree, but I’m wondering if these temporary regulations might be allowed during trying times.
GENTLE READER: Free speech has its limits, even overlooking the fact that restricting it applies to the government, not citizen hosts.
Your real problem is that neither the Constitution nor etiquette endows hosts with legislative, executive or judicial powers. Banning behavior that will endanger or offend yourself or other guests must be done politely, which means in individual conversations before the day of the event. Miss Manners realizes this may not be taken well by potential guests, but it has the advantage of setting the ground rules before anyone sets foot in the door.