American Culture

The Collapse of Manners

"In college, when we studied Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, I realized my father was the disciple of a rather ancient set of values. He was a gentleman: someone who still practiced the art of manners, and as such, he was both inheritor and promulgator of the classical conservative tradition." American Conservative

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I'm Confused

I’ve been following the news for many years, and I’m trying to figure out the correct position on several matters. However, the more I read, the more confused I get. Let me tell you where I’m struggling and perhaps you can help me out.

Dress codes are bad.

Hardly a week goes by without a story about some student who was sent home because her clothing was in violation of school policy. Howls of indignation can be heard across the land! Most of these incidents take place in public high schools, though from time to time, a private school shows up as well.

In every story, the reporter is outraged that someone in authority would have the gall to tell anyone else how they ought to dress. This is America, where everyone should be allowed to determine for herself what is appropriate, and nobody has any business passing judgment. Whether the outfit seems provocative or offensive to others is irrelevant. Clothing styles, we are told, are extensions of individual personality and must be defended as freedom of expression. To force somebody else’s concept of appropriate attire upon another comes dangerously close to violating the constitutionally protected right to free speech. Dress codes are bad, very bad, and should be abolished immediately in any self-respecting free society.

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