Show Me Some Respect!

Just a little bit (One of these days I’m going to learn how to embed youtube videos. Maybe.)

I’m pretty sure Aretha didn’t have in mind redistribution of any respect due her. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Insty linked to that without endorsement, but observation over the years has led me to believe that the Instapundit respects Mickey Kaus in the best way possible — without always agreeing with him. Insty also linked to 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person, which is short primer on how to gain respect both from others and yourself. That link is NSFW and not safe at home if you have young children who can read. That warning applies to cracked.com in general.

Now Mickey Kaus was endorsing this post of Noah Smith’s: Redistribute wealth? No, redistribute respect. Neither article made complete sense to me. Neither one of them rang “always true”. Neither one of them seemed to consider respect to mean the same thing I’ve always thought it did. Basically, I feel and show respect to everyone I meet until they give me a reason not to. Those close to me, whose lives I know much more intimately, have greater or lesser degrees of respect even though my love for them might know no bounds.

On the surface, I agree that “the hard work of an unskilled laborer is considered worthwhile in social interactions, regardless of how many dollars it brings home”. And as far as I know nothing of someone beyond whether he works hard or not, he has gained my respect for his work. However, both articles leave out what comes afterwards regarding respect. The hard worker who drinks or gambles away his paycheck rather than spending it on food for his children gets no MORE respect from me. I might love that person, I might help him if I can, but I don’t respect him beyond his ability and willingness to work hard. I don’t hold him in high esteem.

Others express my discomfort with this idea of “redistribution” of respect much better than I can:

What sense does it make to talk of ‘equality’ of respect in any case? Is it equal like you have equal rights under the law? The reason you can talk about human equality in that sense — it is the only way in which it is possible to talk about humans as equals and avoid speaking nonsense — is that there is a single source for the rights you have under the law, which creates those rights the same way for every entity. Respect is not like that. Respect is not the creation of a single source, but is created (or not) by each individual you encounter. Some will elect to respect you more than others. You don’t even get equal respect with yourself: how much respect you get depends on whom you ask. (Free advice: ask your dog.)

You know the drill. Read the whole thing. And when you’re through with that, read this.

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