2017-02-16 / Columns

Let’s restore respect

Elizabeth Kirby

The Staple Singers sang about it. Aretha did too.

Despite their efforts, there’s one thing our world seems to be short on, and that’s respect. Sounds like a pretty serious subject for a column titled “Hot Flashes,” yes? Well, I cover the hard news here, baby. Breast implants. Lumbago. Rotten grandkids. The drought.

Speaking of shortages, I notice there’s certainly no shortage of BMWs, single-malt whiskeys or Bermuda vacations and Botox.

Yet, does anyone know why your basic garden-variety version of human civility has evaporated? Gone girl. Vamoose. Sayonara and it’s a damn free-for-all. Watch out, because if you don’t agree with me, you are a bona fide piece of worthless Limburger and you’re gonna get a knuckle sandwich followed by a barrage of expletives on Facebook mobilizing a boatload of hate.

So what. It’s America and we have free speech, like it or lump it, you moron.

The Constitution says we get to be jerks, they claim. What’s that in Latin? Cogito ergo sum jerkus. I think, therefore I am . . . a jerk. There, I have filled in the blanks for you in our nation’s political road map.

According to our Founding Fathers, we American citizens of the 21st century can tweet, blog and blast like Billy Martin kicked dirt, all under the great golf umbrella known as the First Amendment. We’re making whoopee with our free speech, baby, and the mud is gonna flow whether you like it, whether it is fair, whether it is constructive, whether it is cruel, because our forefathers fought for the right to be rotten.

That’s it. We covet that hardearned right to be rotten. On the other side of the buffet, what about the need to be respectful? No, there’s no law that says you have to be respectful.

Maybe it’s too much work. Maybe it takes more thought to step back for a moment and ponder a more positive approach. It’s easy to throw a tantrum and bucket of slime.

Sadly, neither the Constitution nor the Congress is in a position to define good taste. Certainly not to legislate morality. While everyone is worried about the drought, about taxes and immigration, about who says what on Twitter or who has Wi-Fi, who will raise the bar above rotten?

What about human decency?

Watch out, humanity, and I’m talking to you—messy old, indignant you. If we can put Iran on notice, I’m putting you on notice. I’m talking to you politicians and to you athletes, to you musicians and to you bloggers, to you predators of social media, because your mouths should be scrubbed with Lava soap and baked in the sun like bricks.

Thanks to your crass, we are immersed in a world of the down and dirty, of getting rear-ended in social media, of made-up news and who cares if it’s all a lie? You’re doing it because you can.

And as that great Edith Bunker learned to yell at Archie: “FOUL!” And I call foul.

Back in the saddle-shoe years, I would have been sentenced to life in the penalty box if I didn’t show respect and grace. Hello, ironing board. Hello, heavy linen sheets and Dad’s Brooks Brothers oxford shirts. Hello, Turbo Steam Iron.

We will be in bondage forever if I forget to say “please,” “yes sir,” “no thank you,” “let me do that for you,” “may I help you,” “yes absolutely, can I get you anything?”

I thought hockey players were the only ones who leveled cheap shots. Now we have presidents, presidential candidates, world leaders joining the gang-bangers in a match of mudslinging and tweetbaiting. We shrug our shoulders. Big deal. We’re all deplorable. We’re pathetic. There’s no recourse or a referee to show their sorry butts to the bench.

Let’s get off the road to rotten. “All I’m askin’ for,” sang Aretha, “is a little respect.”

Elizabeth Kirby can be reached at kirby@theacorn.com or kirby.hanson@verizon.net.

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