In Which Disparaging These Individuals Remains Wrong

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My cousin Artis has been dating a woman named Jessica for around a year. We have some older family members who from time to time will say things that are less than politically correct. Jessica seems to go out of her way to lecture them about what they have said or criticize my grandmother, great-aunt and her husband, letting everyone know what she thinks is wrong about their point of view.

I understand expressing your beliefs, but at some point don’t you just have to back off? The individuals involved are in their 80s, and in one case, 94.

Jared R.

Dear Jared,

It depends on exactly what kind of faux pas we are talking about here. I myself use what I call the Pat Buchanan test. People became so immune to the horrendous things that Pat Buchanan says on the McLaughlin Group that after he would make his usual disgusting statement, Eleanor Clift would just be like “I don’t think so” and resume her explanation of how ovaries work.

Every once and awhile Pat would be like, “I blame Harvey Weinstein for this,” and although he was occasionally right, he was sometimes wrong and the motivation for the comment was suspect.

If your elders are saying something about gays or Asians that is one thing. The ABC network has proved it is okay to disparage these groups publicly, especially if that critique takes the form of a televised sitcom.

If, on the other hand, your great aunt’s husband is going after Patricia Arquette or Brianna Wu, call the police. It should never be wrong to tell the truth or set someone straight, and I fail to see how advanced age plays into it. We don’t lose our ability to act like human beings just because we were born before the Civil Rights Act.


With the upcoming return of Game of Thrones, my roommate Jamie will be hosting his weekly Winterfell gatherings in our apartment. Since I host similar events from time to time not based on HBO fantasy series, I have no problem with these groupings.

My issue is with a particular friend of Jamie’s who insists on explaining the backstory of every single character who comes onscreen for the new viewers who may be casually watching this week’s episode or are just not able to follow all the action that happens when a Lannister pays his debts. I understand this friend is trying to be helpful, but his behavior is not only super-annoying, but it turns the hour-long show into a ninety-minute feature with not-director commentary. How can I prevent him from ever recounting the particulars of Littlefinger’s childhood in front of my loved ones again?

Brad C.

Dear Brad,

Sounds like you need to bring a Game of Thrones ringer into the picture. Someone who can see an expression on Tyrion Lannister’s face and ascribe it to a particular prostitute that his father might have procured for him on the mean streets of King’s Landing.

With this even bigger know-it-all shouting loudly over the far more prosaic, simple, rudimentary background information of your friend Jamie’s friend, all your problems will be solved. Or maybe just plan a night out and watch it later. It’s important to make Game of Thrones last; there is only so much of it that George R.R. Martin can write between his monologues about how much he hates fan fiction.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s mobile site at


“Not Just Anything” – I’m From Barcelona (mp3)

“Sirens” – I’m From Barcelona (mp3)


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