Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008: The Year of Being Less Respectful

Last May, this bit of scandal broke out according to blogger David Schbader (Sblog.com):

The soldier son of talk radio relationship counselor Laura Schlessinger is under investigation for a graphic personal Web page that one Army official has called “repulsive.” The MySpace page, publicly available until Friday when it disappeared from the Internet, included cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation; photographs of soldiers with guns in their mouths; a photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee captioned “My Sweet Little Habib”; accounts of illicit drug use; and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets. The site is credited to and includes many photographs of Deryk Schlessinger, the 21-year-old son of the talk radio personality known simply as Dr. Laura.

In the blog, Schlessinger’s son also said how he “loves” the war since he gets to kill people.

Shocking! Dr. Laura’s own son! Why? How?

I guess it all boils down to misplaced respect. Would the situation have made any news if Dr.
Laura was just plain old Laura Schlessinger? "Known simply as Dr. Laura."

Huh? O.K., let’s list some of the reasons respect is on my mind: Dr. Laura, Rev. Creflo Dollar, President George Bush, Bishop Eddie Long, the Hon. Justice Scalia and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. All titles of respect – automatic respect. Americans love titles, and they assume that the person with a title deserves automatic respect. In many cases, the respect given to someone with a title far outweighs what respect the person actually deserves. In a famous West Wing segment, President Josiah Barlett uses his title to trump the imitation “Dr.” Laura. He points out that not only doesn’t her title warrant respect (it's a doctorate in English Literature just as Schlessinger's is in physiology, not psychlogy), but her actions themselves are disrespectful of him as well as many other people who listen to her radio show.

It’s the same with religion. Cenq Uygur of The Young Turks created a veritable firestorm with a piece entitled I Don’t Respect Your Religion. Comments generally followed the lines of “How Dare You!” accompanied by rude epithets, but Cenq got his point across: for example, if a man handles venomous snakes as part of his “religion” we all have a right to think he’s an idiot – hence, we don’t respect him for his religious ritual.

There is respect for human dignity, respect for education and wisdom, respect for reasonable, well-established faith. But many Americans have attached themselves to blind respect. That’s why our televangelists can get away with the things they do.

So, does the title “Man of God” really mean much anymore?

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