Even Comedians Find Politeness Useful

Posted on 30 August 2014

I’m not against transgressive humour, but we have comedians who enjoy being in a position where they can offend with impunity. This has less to do with freedom of speech, than freedom to dominate and exact verbal revenge. Thoughtful comedians may still dip into the transgressive, but when you do so selectively, it has more impact and gets your points across more effectively. Some comedians, I have a feeling, don’t even understand that it’s not wrong to cross certain lines, but you are hurting people when you do. Quinn Norton’s article about the value of being polite is a brilliant description of how to be respectful and why it is important.

“Politeness is very important, not just because it’s a better way to be in the world, but because it is more effective. People often say their message is too important to bother being polite, but that’s serving their ego, not the message or its cause. If what you have to say is so important the other person must hear it, then you must say it in the way they will most likely hear it — respectfully, clearly, and with empathy and attention to the hearer, to make a space for conversation and clarification. That moment in disaster movies where the president finally listens to the protagonist because he just rudely started screaming his head off? That doesn’t happen in real life. The people who do that get dragged away by the Secret Service.

“There are moments to scream, but if you don’t have this stuff down yet, you won’t know when it is the right time.”

How to be Polite…for Geeks, Quinn Norton

Peace and kindness,


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