Essay: The Morals of Gossip

Gossip has always had a terrible reputation. A sin against charity, they said, quoting St. Paul. The odd, vivid term sometimes used for it was backbiting. The word suggested a sudden, predatory leap from behind—as if gossip's hairy maniacal dybbuk landed on the back of the victim's neck and sank its teeth into the spine, killing with vicious little calumnies: venoms and buzzes.

Gossip is rarely that wild. From the morning of the first individual folly of the race, gossip has been the normal nattering background noise of civilization: Molly Goldberg at her kitchen...

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