Good Manners are of great value in human life. Bad manners are not a legal crime. But everybody dislikes a man with bad manners. Small courtesies win us a lot of friends. Words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ helps us in making our passage through life smooth. The law does not permit us to hit back if we are the victims of bad manners. But if we are threatened with physical violence, the law permits us some liberty of action. Bad manners create a chain reaction. Social practice demands politeness from us. A good mannered person will find that his work becomes e person will find that his work becomes easier by the ready co-operation that he gets from others.
The young lift-man in a City office who threw a passenger out of his lift the other morning and was fined for the offence was undoubtedly in the wrong. It was a question of 'Please'. The complainant entering the lift, said, 'Top'. The lift-man demanded 'Top-please' and this concession being refused he not only declined to comply with the instruction, but hurled the passenger out of the lift. This, of course was carrying a comment on manner too far. Discourtesy is not a legal offence, and it does not excuse assault and battery. If a burglar breaks into my house and I knock him down, the law will acquit me, and if I am physically assaulted, it will permit me to retaliate with reasonable violence. It does this because the burglar and my assailant have broken quite definite commands of the law, but no legal system could attempt to legislate against bad manners, or could sanction the use of violence against something which it does not itself recognize as a legally punishable offence. And whatever our sympathy with the lift-man, we must admit that the law is reasonable. It would never do if we were at liberty to box people's ears because we did not like their behaviour, or the tone of their voices, or the scowl on their faces. Our fists would never be idle, and the gutters of the City would run with blood all...
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