DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can you share with us the origins of the guidance never to discuss religion and politics at social gatherings? Or the numerous variations of that rule? I’m a wonderful internet sleuth, but this one eludes me.
And what is your guidance on the topic, especially given the precarious state of our democracy and the rampant spread of mis- and disinformation?
GENTLE READER: Have you tried, lately, talking with someone with whom you disagree?
Had this not been an old rule, designed to free social life from cantankerous strife, Miss Manners would have had to invent it.
Mind you, she would happily abandon the rule if she could hope to welcome an exchange of ideas. That would be a boon to democracy, as well as a much-needed stimulus to good conversation.
But people no longer exchange ideas; they exchange insults. This is not new, just particularly bad right now. The rule surely dates to the first time someone countered a statement with, “Then you must be an idiot” instead of, “Why do you think that?”