KATIE ZERR: Accepting disrespect is becoming the norm


The degradation of respect for others and their property in this country is escalating at an alarming rate. There have been a number of incidents in the news lately that are perfect examples of how disrespect can lead to acts of violence and even death.

A man was recently found guilty of causing the death of a teenager because he shot into a vehicle filled with kids. The trigger for this incident was the teens playing music so loudly in a public place that it rattled vehicle windows.

A veteran is being prosecuted for killing a man over texting in a movie theater. The texting was considered harmless to those whose phones are an extension of their bodies, but to someone who doesn’t have the same mindset and may have viewed it as just another incident of disrespect, it was a trigger that caused a violent reaction.

Four teens were recently arrested in Oregon after they kidnapped and beat another teen, carving a swastika in his forehead after the boy referred to one of the four as gay on a Facebook page. They claim the beaten youth was a bully who made their lives miserable.

Young people make mistakes. That is a part of growing up. But this act of retribution was beyond just getting back at a bully. It speaks to the society in which our children are being raised, one in which hate, intolerance, disrespect and violence are a part of everyday life.

There is disrespect on every level. Children are not expected to respect their elders, teachers, law enforcement or even their parents. It has taken a long time to get to this level, but it is now epidemic.

One only has to watch what happens in Washington, in Hollywood and in our entertainment to understand where part of this disrespect for others permeates.

When a member of the U.S. Congress feels it is his right to call the president of the United States a liar during a national televised address to Congress in 2009, it set the stage for one of the most disrespectful periods in our nation’s capitol in recent history.

Disagreeing with a president’s policies, calling them out for questionable actions or decisions is one thing, but blatant disrespect for the office is a whole different matter.

It has only snowballed from there.

Movies and television are filled with disrespect. Favorite characters are nasty, smart-mouthed kids who are so disrespectful of adults and authority that they would have been considered punks by my generation. They would have been part of a group that was considered outside of the norm. Now they are laughed at and viewed with a sort of twisted respect. Their actions are now considered the norm.

The creators of these characters are becoming very wealthy, while society deals with the aftermath of what our children are watching.

Music is filled with hate, intolerance and disrespect. It is a wonder our youth can have a shred of respect for others when they are bombarded with disrespectful actions in every corner of their lives. They see these artists living extremely lavish lifestyles as a result of their actions. To our kids, the result of spewing hate, intolerance and disrespect is wealth and opportunity.

As a youth, my generation was taught to question, but not with disrespect. We were taught that adults have lived longer than we had and that they may not always be right, but their opinions were to be respected.

We were taught that the old man who lived on the corner fought to save our nation and he worked hard to keep his garden and yard looking good. We were taught it was disrespecting his property and him to cut across his lawn or use his fence as a backstop.

We wouldn’t roll our eyes in clear view because we knew what the reaction would be. We never put our hand in the face of an adult when we didn’t like what was being said and one wonders what would have happened had we referred to an adult with an unacceptable term.

It wasn’t about crushing our freedoms. It was about having respect for others.

As an adult, we can either act in a manner that shows we deserve respect or we can show others we are not worthy of the respect given.  It is a basic factor in the manner in which my generation lives their lives.

It is sad to see that falling by the wayside.


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