Monday, December 11, 2006
The verb seems to be used everywhere. Once the word was known primarily for its noun status. You showed disrespect to the elderly, the flag, the humanity of another, a creed. Now, seemingly, it has become overused in its transitive verbal form. People disrespect each other at all levels. Street gang members are maimed or worse for disrespecting those of another. Boyfriends fight like enraged bullocks if they imagine disrespect towards their females. Spokespersons bleat endlessly in the media about disrespect towards their so-called communities (see previous blog!). Football managers grunt that their competitors disrespect them by putting out weaker teams against them. The workplace is riddled with complaints of disrespect whenever performance is challenged (see another previous blog!).
Where it impacts most perfidiously is when someone or some group objects to criticism. Rather than accept that criticism is part of life’s healthy debate and should be rebutted by the use of evidence, now we hear people complaining that they are being disrespected, as though they are unfailingly virtuous. The verb ‘to disrespect’ has crept in on the clunkingly cruder end of political correctness. It is used to forestall debate by implying that its victim inhabits a natural moral high ground which protects him or her from any challenge.
It is too often an active agent of censure, a straightjacket on the freedom of speech.
It is in that sense I disrespect it.