Civility is at the very heart of civilization. Those two words, along with other words such as “city” and “citizen,” come from the Latin civitas, which means a body of citizens bound by common laws and rules. In other words, civilized people agree to be nice to each other. Think of how both you and the cashier usually say “thank you” when you buy your morning coffee, even if you’re complete strangers. Getting along in modern life would be impossible without at least passable manners.
Which brings us to today’s Regulation of the Day. La Toba, Spain’s mayor, Julian Altienza Garcia recently issued a 65-plank Courtesy Charter making it illegal to commit tactless acts in public from burping to slurping soup. To this writer's knowledge, La Torba does not have a reputation as a bastion of barbarity.
The charter even contains a mandate of sorts -- children are required to spend some time with their grandparents on a regular basis. It is not known how Spain’s Supreme Court would rule if they were to decide on the grandparent mandate’s legality.
Some of the other offenses include:
- Touching your genitals;
- Yawning without covering your mouth;
- Coughing without covering your mouth; and
- Talking with your mouth full
None of these breaches of decorum are punishable beyond a dirty look and a wag of the finger. People convicted of other minor offenses will, however, be able to have their fines waived if they take etiquette courses. Mayor Garcia defends his Courtesy Charter, saying “It is a compendium of basic rules of politeness that are being lost and should not be forgotten.”
He’s right that manners are important. They shouldn’t be forgotten. And it certainly is useful to have a written etiquette primer. In fact, many already exist. You can look here, here, here, and here, for starters. But even if Mayor Garcia’s job description is as broad as he believes it to be, his constituents would be better served if he turned his attention to more pressing matters than other peoples’ boogers.