When can you stop being polite?
By Robin Abrahams
You may have heard about the fascinating exchange on "The View" in which new co-host Sherri Sheperd claimed "not to know" if the world was round or flat. Her explanation for this unusual lacuna in her knowledge base is that she was too busy worrying about whether or not her kids were fed.
I'm struggling with what would be an appropriate response to someone who could say something like this. Obviously, I am all for civility, and I am also all for cutting new co-workers some slack and setting up good relationships for the future.
But at what point does the responsibility to civility and relationships end, and the responsibility to facts and common sense begin? The shape of the earth is not a question about which reasonable people can differ. Nor is it the kind of information that one just "forgets" in a brain freeze (Ms. Sheperd's subsequent excuse). Now, I do not for an instant believe that Ms. Sheperd does not know the shape of the earth. Even if somehow she didn't, I would never smack someone down for ignorance, knowing how very much smackdown I deserve myself. But her assertion that such ignorance would be acceptable, and that it would be the honorable price of motherhood, is bizarre and offensive in the extreme.
I really don't know what an appropriate response to her would have been. But I do think that while politeness is a virtue, it is not the only virtue.