I must confess that, while I might come off as equal parts peace, love and happiness, with just a drop of sunshine, live and let live, I judge no one for anything ever, let's face it, I am a huge bitch.
It isn't so much that I ever make core judgments of people, based solely on external characteristics beyond their control, because that is simply wrong. It is more that I have a deep seeded sense of propriety. Behavior that is simply unacceptable in social situations, period. And while I am all for pushing the boundaries of acceptability, I am never in favor of rudeness for rudeness' sake. So driven am I by this internal compass of decorum that I am often very easily offended. Not only by the behavior itself, but by the fact that no one else around me seems to share in my offense. Have we become so socially anesthetized by visions of flashing celebrity vaginas that we can no longer gage for ourselves the line of appropriateness?
Some etiquette is black and white, and simple to understand. Using the word "gay" as a pejorative, for example, is inappropriate, no matter what the social situation. Your personal intention in using the word in such a way is of no relevance. We can all see by the look of your bemused condescension that deep down you know exactly how harmful your use of this word is. In fact, it seems silly that I should even have to spell this out for you but, the use of any racial or ethnic epithet, even in jest, is inexcusable, and in poor taste, and should never find its way into polite conversation. It's 2008, ignorance is no longer a viable excuse.
Other etiquette is much more situationally based. When is it appropriate to raise your voice, for example. Or how do you constructively criticize, without being catty? When is it acceptable to cut in line, throw a drink in someone's face, or flash your genitals in public?
In an effort to help the world navigate the rocky road to living well and remaining poised while doing so (and, frankly, to fulfill a lifelong dream) I am hereby offering up my services as "know it all" in the form of an ongoing, weekly Dear Jacob advice column here at Beautiful Disaster. Have a dilemma? Need advice? Want to turn in a proprietary offender? Write me. No problem too big or too small. Please send all submissions to HelpMeJacob@gmail.com.