The ability to determine bad taste really should not be too difficult. The recent cover of the New Yorker, for example, was in bad taste. It showed Obama and his wife in the oval office dressed as Muslim and militant. Aside from the fact that irony is alien to most Americans, what’s the joke here?
In English furniture, there is one euphemism that I find totally offensive. Oddly, I don’t mind antique dealers using it, because they understand what it means. It is “boring brown” to describe the entire genre of English furniture. Someone who doesn’t really know what it means should not use the term. It is in bad taste. One of the decorators interviewed in the article on John Hobbs in the New York Times used the term to describe why he bought with Hobbs, to bypass the boring brown. Hopefully, his clients are boring down on him for spending their money so indiscriminately.
Bad taste is understood sensually, visually and intellectually. Bad judgment is often bad taste but bad taste is not always bad judgment. The above decorator had bad judgment and bad taste. The editors at the New Yorker had bad judgment because their point, that Obama is none of those things pictured in the cartoon on the cover, will be missed by the multitude. Why not make jokes about rednecks and hillbillies instead?