Stop these 'whoreson zeds' from spoiling our proud history of insults

Comment

Opinion digest: legally enforced niceness and Mitt Romney's assets

LAST UPDATED AT 14:20 ON Fri 19 Oct 2012

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OUR PROUD HISTORY OF INSULTS IS IN DANGER
TOM CHIVERS ON LEGALLY ENFORCED POLITENESS
"When did people decide that we need to be protected from bawdiness and rudery," asks Tom Chivers in The Daily Telegraph. "Humanity has a proud history of insults." In 1500BC ancient Egyptians used gay insults against men. Hm meant effeminate male, while nkk was "passive homosexual'. Shakespeare really knew how to insult someone: "You bull's pizzle, you stock-fish!" "Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter!" and so on. But would he have got away with it today? A campaign has begun against Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which is increasingly being used to prosecute people for voicing insults. "In fairness to the authors of the law, there is a suggestion that the rise of politeness has been partly responsible for the fall in violence over the centuries." Previously, insults were met with knives and fist – far more than now. The growth of taboos on rudeness has saved lives. "But there is a difference between taboos on rudeness, held in place by social convention, and legally enforced politeness. Have we outsourced our sense of decency to the state?"

HOW ROMNEY HAS MADE HIS ASSETS AN ASSET
BEN MACINTYRE ON MITT'S MILLIONS
The Republican presidential campaign has a tricky task, says Ben Macintyre in The Times: "How to make an asset out of Mitt Romney's assets". There have been many rich presidents before, but with the US economy still in the doldrums, Romney's great wealth is also his greatest weakness. "America's ambivalence over wealth may be the single most important element in this election, a curious amalgam of envy and admiration." Before the presidential debates, Mitt's millions seemed certain to scupper his campaign, but since then he has found a way to make them work for him by telling a story that is as old as the American Dream itself. It goes like this: Mitt made every penny on his own, creating prosperity and jobs for others in the process. Romney has recently managed to make his wealth appear not alienating or greedy but attainable, even philanthropic. "It is a new take on an old tale, a riches-to-rags-to-riches story that could take him all the way to the White House if the voters buy it."

YUMMY MUMMIES ARE RUDE AND DEMANDING
CLARE KATHLEEN BOGEN ON THE BUGGY BRIGADE
Take it from a waitress: yummy mummies are rude and too demanding, writes Clare Kathleen Bogen in The Guardian. "Some commenters have confused parents with small children who visit cafes in affluent areas with those who give the rest a bad name – the actual 'yummy mummies'." Many parents recognise the difficulty of accommodating SUV-sized prams, and the children who occupy them, in cafes but others simply don't care and "actively make problems, not just for the other customers, but for the staff". This "buggy brigade" are more demanding than other patrons, while allowing their children to scream loudly and touch everything in sight. "They have forgotten that they aren't the only people in the cafe. This isn't assertiveness, this is rudeness." These yummy mummies "rarely buy more than one coffee", often bring their own food for the kids and put off other customers. · 

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