From The Imaginative Conservative

Christian chivalry harmonized human relations. Without it, society could only be held together by brute force and cold reason. Gone would be the warmth of considerate human relations, corrupted would be the morals of men, and all would be reduced to slaves…

Today the idea that the cultivation of manners should be an essential part of one’s education has been nearly lost entirely. It seems to have followed in death its greatest modern advocate, Emily Post. “Manner is personality,” Post wrote, “the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.” Proof of the demise of manners is all around us: the open use of foul language on the public street, not simply by unkempt, uneducated youths but by middle-age, well-groomed businessmen; the in-your-ear blaring of something incorrectly deemed to be music by its devotees out car windows; the making of turns or changing of lanes by drivers without the courtesy of a turn signal; the routine violation of one’s personal space by passersby without the least expression of apology; and most obvious and appalling, the horrific decline in standards of dress everywhere. Indeed, T-shirts, jeans and sneakers have become standard attire for adults on “casual Friday” in the business world and, even more distressingly, at Sunday Mass. People venture out of their houses into public wearing their pajamas as they perform Saturday-morning errands. Today it is the lowest class of society that sets the standards of attire for everyone else; young people have adopted an exaggerated version of prison uniforms as their everyday attire, particularly excessively baggy pants, often worn so low that underpants and even one’s derriere is exposed for all to see.


The mannered society began its death throes in America in the 1960s. It was dealt its first lethal blow by the radical cultural and political Left, who preached that business suits, proper manners, and personal grooming were symbols of the oppression of the bourgeois middle class, of “The Man.” Sporting instead tie-dyed shirts, ripped-up jeans, flip-flops and scraggly, unkempt hair upon the head and face, the Left taught, was the way to bring about the egalitarian revolution that would right society’s injustices.

What was started by the Left of the political spectrum five decades ago was exacerbated by the Right years later. Largely in response to the chilling forms of what came to be called “political correctness” that were imposed by radicals on college campuses, right-wing libertarians beginning in the 1990s adopted the mantra that no one has a right not to be offended. In a decisive transformation of the old libertarian adage that one’s right to swing one’s fist stops only at someone else’s nose, these new libertarians claimed that their right to free speech was completely unrestricted by anyone’s religious sensibilities or sense of proper decorum. Thus pornography, outrageous satire of religious belief, and foul language were acceptable in the public square. If one was offended by such things, these libertarians preached, that was the problem of the offended person, not the offender. In effect, libertarians claimed that their right to spew forth whatever they wanted through the written and spoken word was not limited by another’s eye or ear. They said to the offended: “Get over it!”

Read the complete article from The Imaginative Conservative at the link below.


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