dinner table test

n.
A symbolic test used to decide whether a topic is generally acceptable to one's peers, or is suitable for polite conversation, such as at the dinner table.
Example Citations:
Stirring a potentially explosive debate over faith and politics, the first Muslim woman to serve in the British cabinet said on Thursday that prejudice towards the country's Islamic minority is so prevalent that it is seen by many as normal and uncontroversial and has "passed the dinner table test." "It seems to me that Islamophobia has now crossed the threshold of middle-class respectability," Baroness Sayeed Warsi told an audience at the University of Leicester in the English Midlands. "For far too many people, Islamophobia is seen as a legitimate, even commendable, thing."
—Alan Cowell, " Prominent British Muslim Assails Prejudice: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/world/europe/21britain.html?src=twrhp," The New York Times, January 20, 2011
The single biggest screening method we use at Kaizen Consulting is called the "Dinner Table Test". If we have any ethical or moral issues with someone (or we just think they are a jerk) such that we would not invite them to our dinner table with family present, then we don't invite them to the boardroom table either.
—" Enhance Your Business Through Customer Selection: http://business-growth.com/2008/01/02/enhancing-your-business-through-customer-selection/," Kaizen Consulting, January 7, 2008
Earliest Citation:
And I call this the "dinner table test" or the "family and friends test," or something like that.
Government Information Insider: http://books.google.com/books?id=rpGHAAAAMAAJ&q=%22dinner+table+test%22, OMB Watch, January 1, 1997 (approx)
Notes:
A slightly different version of the phrase dinner table test is used to decide whether a topic is interesting enough to engage one's dinner companions, particularly children:
An avid fiction reader, Kolata as a writer is drawn to subjects that tell a story. "I write stories I want to read," she says. When she chooses a subject for a newspaper article it has to pass the "dinner table test" with her children, now 18 and 21. "If the topic makes their eyes glaze over, it's failed the test."
—Kim Miller, "Flu' tracks a killer," Contra Costa Times, February 6, 2000
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