An old British adage states that when in polite company one should never engage in conversation upon the subjects of sex, politics and religion.
The reason for this prohibition, it is generally agreed, being that in any group of three or more people there will never be a consensus of opinion on any one of these three topics.
Anger, embarrassment or shame will ensue and the evening will be ruined.
The public distaste for these three subjects goes some way to explain why any sort or legal, social or legislative reform in any of the areas has taken so many years.
Even in the corridors of power and the chambers of governance discussion of sexual matters, easily talked about in single sex company, in the depths of their cups is hushed in to silence by the austere and venerable statesmen or is expected to be spoken of only from behind the blushing cheeks of their female counterparts in the public forum.
Talk of political reform or simple change is greeted with suspicion and reluctance and religion most of all with extreme caution, born of the fear of "giving offence".
Why is this?
The reason for the common agreement to make these terrible three subjects taboo possibly is founded in the historical fact that any contemporaneous standpoints on any of them has at one time or another been a capital offence.
It is perhaps because of this, that everyone has very strong opinions on these subjects, which are nonetheless kept fiercely private.
Perhaps because in company where etiquette demands polite acceptance and tolerance, or where commercial relationships are at stake, discreet diplomacy is require and is all important. Subsequently being assumed to have respectable positions is imperative for the maintenance of reputation.
It is understood almost universally that, in such gatherings, once one of these subjects has been raised in conversation, your position MUST be the subjectively correct one. Even silence is not an option, for choosing not to express an opinion will be seen in and of itself as an act of either irresponsibility or a tacit confession of complicity at holding an unacceptable point of view.
To be thought of as politically undesirable, a heretic or a pervert still today hold a particular level of disgrace that at best will lead to mockery, at worst to ostracisation or arrest.
This to an extent the maxim is still held to be true.
Recent years have seen an easing in public judgement upon the peccadilloes of the rich and powerful as far as sex is concerned. Where once divorce, adultery, promiscuity would spell ruin for an aspiring politician today they are irrelevant.
The British Prime Minister openly co-habits with a woman who is not his wife in 10 Downing Street and has recently become the proud father of an illegitimate child.
All well and good most would say and that this is a natural progression away from the prudishness of the past. However when Donald Trump the president of the USA is not scandalised for sexual misconduct on a level still unthinkable to many, it gives pause for thought. How far can sexual forbearance be stretched?
In the area of sexual conduct discussion is now permitted by tolerance in all but a very few areas, paedophilia, bestiality, sexual assault and the fetishization of bodily waste solids, still has a degree of conversational censure, other than when the discussion is concerned with legislating against them.
Where has all of that other condemnation gone?
It has moved, been redirected to Politics. Making a Politically incorrect statement today is the most heinous of crimes and because of political expediency in a world that still has theocracies within it, religion too has been assimilated in to the political arena.
Politics and religion have moved in to the proscribed realm of those things that must not be mocked or even spoken of for fear that it paint you as holding "problematic" opinions.
Religion and politics (but not politicians) hold a sacrosanct place, which may not be criticised, derided or belittled, without incurring the terrible epithet of being an -ist or a -phobe.
The "istophobe" is the modern heretic and is seen as deserving of all the hate filled wrath of their processor, with public "cancelling" replacing the burning in the town square, at least for now.
Becoming publicly outraged has develop into an international pass time while finding and taking offence at innocent remarks and literary texts, a sport once only practiced and enjoyed by the pompous writers of disgusted epistles to The Times "letter to the editor" column is a common pastime.