Ask Miss Conduct!

by Lorna Salzman

Do's and Don'ts for Dissers

This column will appear erratically depending upon how fast all you readers learn your lessons. It was prompted by recent calls on the Green Forum for a Green Code of Ethics (sic) and code of behavior for all Greens who diss other Greens. (Notwithstanding the fact that this doesn't have diddlysquat to do with Ethics, I don't want to diss ethically impaired Greens by insinuating they don't know the difference between good manners and ethics. Eventually they will figure it out).

Here are some Do's and Don'ts for Dissers. They are intended to function in the real-life situations in which Greens normally find themselves, which is to say at unstructured, unending and (mostly) unattended gatherings where New Agers are likely to encounter Green political extremists, situations conducive to mutual distrust.

You, a Green from the Institute for Social Ecology, are rooming at a conference at some academic hotbed of multiculturalism hosting a Green Gathering. To your right (obviously NOT your Left) is a nuclear physicist who fancies he is also a Green.

DON'T: immediately take him hostage and keep him there until all nukes are shut.
DO: inform him that he is also a victim of oppressive authoritarian social relations.

You, a Green from Mendocino, California who repairs A\C wind generators and raises weed for "medical purposes" are seated next to a recent PhD. candidate in critical theory as it applies to anti-social inner-city proletariat movements.

DON'T: call him a Commie dupe who should be put on the next plane to Cuba and that Karl Marx really represented the prevalent Victorian views of the society in which he lived.
DO: do tell him (Marxists are always Hims) that you really dig his rap on property relations but that you can't get behind where his discourses are situated.

You, a Green vegetarian who recycles your dog's doggie-doo, have the misfortune to be seated at a Green gathering lunch next to a (choke!) carnivore (he's really an omnivore, but hey, you need to score points).

DON'T: ask him if he ever feels remorse at seeing a plant die so it can serve as food*
DO: hand him your pre-prepared list of why eating meat is likely to lead to Mad Buffalo disease, free-market syndrome, impaired sexual performance, loss of hair, alienation of personal friends, and ostracization in the Green movement and then tell him he has to go eat in the kitchen with the rest of his well-meaning but misguided associates.**

You, a dog owner and lover, are seated next to a Green who owns and loves cats.

DON'T: tell her that domestic cats are incapable of learning, don't recognize their name or any other words, and kill at least fifty million songbirds in the US each year, and nearly that number in the UK (true facts) and that cats should be kept indoors at all times.
DO: agree that feline animal companions have Standing and an inherent right to exist and roam free, and that confining them will be misinterpreted by the cats, which have an uncanny ability to read your mind, hold grudges and understand your conversations with cat-hating friends.

*actually stated to me in writing by the former chairwoman of the Green COC's Life Forms committee working on the national Green platform in 1990. It took me years to realize that the Life Forms Committee was not an art class.

** actually proposed once for a Green Gathering in Colorado.

Send Miss Conduct your questions on how to deal with similar embarrassing situations. All inquiries will be kept strictly public unless otherwise requested.

© 2002 Lorna Salzman. All rights reserved. Material may be quoted with permission.