Goodness and Politeness

So I'm not a particularly polite person; I'm socially inept, awkward, and decidedly vulgar (when stressed or upset my every sentence is peppered with swears). Neither do I consider myself a particularly good person, for various reasons that I don't really want to go into here.

I will credit myself with this, though: I don't get the two mixed up. I don't call myself a bad person because I'm impolite, nor an impolite person because I also happen to be a bad one. That's more than most people seem to be able to do.

You see, there's this notion that politeness and goodness are the same thing, or at least intertwined. This justifies things like the use of the tone argument and people generally being stupid to each other about how we say things, rather than what we say. It's why I can get in more trouble for calling homophobes "silly" and "fucking idiots" than the homophobes themselves can for oppressing people. If I say it that starkly, people (I hope) take my side - but in the thick of angry comments, those very same people would probably be calling me just as bad as a homophobe, or worse.

How do I know that politeness and goodness are not the same thing? That's the question I should be asking; its root question, though a better and deeper one, would very much be going off-topic and I should save it for another blog post.

I was born and raised in some very polite circles, where truth and integrity mattered less than not upsetting the neighbours. As someone who constructed my own moral compass from a young age, one based on having principles and sticking to them, this didn't particularly mix with me meeting intolerable, vapid, uninteresting twat after intolerable, vapid, uninteresting twat.

No wonder I'm a shy, introverted misanthrope! These days I decide it's better to stay away from social functions than it is to waste my time being awkward, uncomfortable, and ignored by ageist pricks. Still, I have engaged with them before, so I know what they're like. There's much focus on keeping social score and staying in contact with people you can barely tolerate lest breaking off the last vestiges of a relationship reflect badly on you. There is also much focus on interminable gatherings featuring the very latest uninformed opinions, regurgitated from the Fail or from some source Rupert Murdoch owns. I do believe that an original idea or an honest take on things is unheard of - certainly it got me many strange looks. I think it's some kind of a faux pas. And, dear non-existent God, they gossip so much and they say the stupidest things...

...Maybe you think it's fine to gossip. Maybe you indulge in it a little. Maybe you indulge in it a lot. And I don't like being a moraliser, but gossip, with its betrayal of trust, with its stupidity, its uninformed judgements, its shaming and its blaming of the victim, is something I cannot condone, especially not from people with entire fucking forests up their arses, let alone sticks.

I've had to sit through people laughing about a woman having seven kids - as if they thought it was her body, their choice. I've squirmed at them shaming girls for having lots of sex (and using the names of those girls as by-words for anything they disapprove of) and at them demonising immigrants when I'm an immigrant myself. I've shaken with rage at their racism and Islamophobia, only to be laughed at when I rebutted their points. And they were all so polite about it too, so very polite.

Were their actions those of good people? No. They damned people they barely knew, if they knew them at all, and attacked people simply out of prejudice and fear stirred up by a money-grubbing media and vile government. They were bigots, pure and simple, and their wrapping up that bigotry in fine words cannot change that. They were polite, but they were not good.

That is probably the clearest example I can give you to demonstrate how and why politeness and goodness aren't the same thing.