“Decent” is one of those interesting words with multiple meanings.  It can mean “honest and moral,” it can mean “good, though not the best,” and it can mean “fitting to be shown or talked about in public.”

Decent folk find it uncomfortable to hear mention of unseemly things.  Their response to what is morally offensive is the same as their approach to bad manners:  The frozen smile that ignores it into oblivion.

In general, this response is a good thing.  It is one of a decent society’s ways of preserving purity and defending against indecency.

But it is not well adapted to more troubled times.  When society is awash in indecency, the decent do not want to hear of it.  The greater the need to speak of it, the less they desire it spoken of.  When persons of good will urge the vocal defense of what shreds of good remain, the decent are inclined to shoot the messenger.

A certain difficult delicacy is therefore necessary, a certain discretion about when to speak and how, even when one is urging virtue -- something which does not come easily to those who grieve over the ruin of Joseph.