spin cycle: decorum, vaginas

Last time on Spin Cycle, we talked about risk management and sound cannons. Today, against all odds, we have something even better: decorum and vaginas!

What can I say? Words are exciting.

Decorum is about manners and rules. If everyone minds their manners and follows the rules (in a classroom, say, or on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives, you could say they are “maintaining decorum.”

So let’s say that during a vote on a bill that would make it harder for women to get abortions, a representative makes a short speech about abortion and religious freedom. At the end, she adds, “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.” Is this a violation of decorum? The speaker of the house says it is.

Is it the word “vagina” Mr. Speaker objects to? Perhaps he would have preferred “uterus” or “downstairs ladybusiness?”* Or was he offended by the suggestion that he and his conservative colleagues were actively trying to get into the rep’s pants?

These are boring questions. I’d rather know: Is there any polite way to reject a bad idea? Is it always bad manners to tell someone they’re wrong? How destructive does an idea have to be before it’s okay to speak candidly about it, to mock and deride it? When is decorum worth defending, and when is it a smokescreen?

*As many people have pointed out, it would be pretty amazing of Mr. Speaker to suggest that it’s wrong for the rep to SAY vagina, but completely acceptable for government officials to make rules regarding vaginas that don’t belong to them.