On The Fence

IMG_6375I’ve never lived in a house that had a fence before, but there’s a first time for everything — and I’m finding that I really like it.

In the backyard our fence is wooden.  In the front it is wrought iron, with a cool swinging gate that features of the shield of the fence’s manufacturer, the Stewart Iron Works of Cincinnati, Ohio.  (I did a Google search for the company, and to my surprise it still exists and continues to make wrought iron fences and furniture, as it has done for 150 years.)

IMG_6373The front fence is entirely ornamental, in the sense that it isn’t there for security but rather to add to the aesthetics of the place.  I like it for that reason, but I especially like the swinging gate where the Stewart Iron Works shield is found.  After almost 100 years, it operates perfectly, and I find myself enjoying the simplicity of its design, which allows the gate to swing freely without squeaking and close by itself, with no need for springs.  The de facto latch is especially cool — a small depression in the fence that marries up to a free standing tongue of iron on the gate.

For me the gate serves a a different aesthetic purpose.  When I arrive at the gate after the end of a workday, depress the iron tongue, and watch the entrance swing open, it’s like the door to my evening officially has opened, my own private little sanctuary has been reached, and the workday truly has ended.

Political Correctness Versus Politeness

Donald Trump is a colossal jerk, but in some perverse ways he is serving a useful function.  Through his appalling behavior, he is helping to illustrate why soft-side skills and manners — those little behavioral mores that any advanced society inevitably will develop over time — are crucial in our world.

Trump castigates the culture of political correctness in America, arguing that it is a kind of straitjacket that distracts us and, in some instances, prevents us from meaningfully addressing the realities of our world.  Many think that overarching concepts of political correctness have, in fact, become a wet blanket that stifles free speech and allows people to object to the phrasing of a message in order to avoid grappling with its substance.  But there is a big difference between political correctness and simple politeness, and with his comments about women generally, and Megyn Kelly specifically, Donald Trump has once again blundered across the line.

Don’t tell me that Trump’s comments are just a rebellious rejection of the PC mentality, as if he is a Gulliver held down by the social constraints of Lilliputian sensitivities.  Instead, apply the Mother or Grandmother Test:  Would your Mom be proud of you if, in articulating your disagreement with a woman, you made an unseemly comment about her menstrual cycle?  My Mom or grandmothers sure wouldn’t — and I’m guessing the same would be true for just about everyone.

This isn’t because of political correctness, it’s because of basic concepts of decency and courtesy and etiquette.  Most people are aware of the importance of these qualities and strive to achieve them; Donald Trump evidently doesn’t because he is too ill-mannered and uncultured and egotistical to even recognize their essential value.

Donald Trump will never be President, of course, because ultimately even those who now are enamored of his “outspokenness” will come to recognize that you would never want such a coarse boob acting as the face of America.  I think that realization will happen sooner rather than later, and Trump’s thin-skinned idiocy is helping to bring that inevitable result about and teaching some useful lessons in the process.