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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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MIss Manners 7/18

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: The evening news is so often about deaths and murders. I find it offensive when, for “the story,” a local reporter shoves their microphone in the face of someone whose relative just died. They’ll do this to anyone who will talk, even young children.

This tactic is immoral, bordering on abusive. The people being interviewed are in a state of shock and don’t have the wherewithal to stop the reporters. What can be done to make them cease and desist? Should it be reported to the authorities? It is heartless.

GENTLE READER: As a journalist, Miss Manners could be expected to side with the reporters. She cannot understand the naivete of those who believe that the world would be a better place if bad news were simply not reported.

But she thoroughly agrees with you. She has never yet seen anything newsworthy, let alone helpful for society, come from the pitiful spectacle of making the newly bereaved grieve in public.

Murderers do not come forward to confess because they are moved by the damage they have done. Would-be murderers are not deterred by the possibility of collateral damage to a victim’s relatives.

Yes, the families do often become eloquent advocates for justice, channeling their grief into activism, hoping to prevent others from suffering as they do. And that is admirable.

But it should be their choice. And the moment in which their lives have been shattered is not the time to ask them to make it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a fitness instructor with approximately 30 customers in each class. A new gentleman in one of my classes, who comes with his cousin, has severe body odor. He looks like he showers, but I suspect he never washes his clothes because he always has the same outfit on every time I see him. The last time he came to class, the room was rather full, and everyone around him was horrified at the smell.

He definitely doesn’t notice. If I speak to him directly, he will probably never come back, and I would like to keep his business. Fitness classes around the country probably have this same problem.

Is there a gentle but firm way to approach him and let him know that everyone can smell him? How can I fix this?

GENTLE READER: It is not often that Miss Manners can get a Gentle Reader off the hook by foisting the problem on someone else. In this case, she has the satisfaction of relieving you of some awkwardness by telling you to pass it on: Tell the cousin about this issue – discreetly and sympathetically.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: After years of trying to be gracious, my husband and I have decided to limit our relationship with my mother as much as cordially possible. This is for the protection of my son and my own feelings.

Is there a polite way that an estrangement may be explained to others without providing details? I don’t wish to disparage my mother or myself with this information, merely to respond honestly to inquiries regarding our relationship.

GENTLE READER: As you need not volunteer this information, it is only a matter of responding to inquiries. Miss Manners suggests, “We’re not in close touch, but I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.

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