Discourtesy is not a legal offence and it does not excuse assault or battery. If a burglar breaks into a house and if he is knocked down, the law will acquit one. If one is physically assaulted, it will permit him to retaliate with reasonable violence.
It does this because the burglar and the assailant have broken quite definite commands of the law.
But no legal system can legislate against bad manners or could sanction the use of violence against something which it does not itself recognize as a legally punishable offence.
The law protects one against violent retaliation. But there is no penalty to pay if you are boorish and haughty. You will be only termed as a bad mannered person. There is no allowance for moral and intellectual damages.
This does not mean damages are negligible. The pain of a kick on the chin soon passes away but the pain of a wound to our self respect or vanity may poison a whole day. For there are few things more catching than bad temper and bad manners.
We infect the world with our ill humours. Bad humours probably do more to poison the stream of general life than all the crimes in the calendar.
The law cannot become guardian of our private manners. No court could administer a law which governed our social civilization, our speech, the tilt of our eye brows and all our moods and manners.
While it is true that there is no law that compels us to be good mannered, there is a social practice much older and much more sacred than any law which enjoins US to be civil.
The first requirement of civility is that we should acknowledge a service, ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are the small change with which to pay our way as social beings.
They are the little courtesies by which we keep the machinery of life oiled and running sweetly and smoothly.
It is these little things that matter much than the great valour or bravado.