People You Should Not Respect

I think I’m a pretty nice guy. By default, I tend to be friendly and give people the benefit of the doubt; it is only when people are rude that I become vindictive. But I’ve found some people do not deserve the default condition of friendly and the benefit of doubt. Some people, by default, do not deserve respect.

As children we are taught to respect our elders. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, you probably should not respect the old guy who lives in a cave and writes manifestos. Or the old guy in the trenchcoat who sits in the park every day with his hands in his pockets watching children play.

You should not respect professionals who cannot properly pronounce words essential to their job function. This includes weathermen who say “tempichure,” librarians who say “liberry,” and atomic physicists who say “nucular.” You probably shouldn’t respect anyone who says “tempichure,” “liberry,” and “nucular” all in the same conversation.

Old things have their place in society, respected for their novelty like toys from the 1950’s, for their sense of cool like 60’s muscle cars, or for their sheer grandeur such as medieval castles. But people who blindly accept “older” over “better” probably shouldn’t be respected. Such as the guy who prefers leeches over aspirin, grunting over articulation, and stinking over bathing.

On the flipside, those who use technology to the wrong ends should not be respected. Like criminals who take selfies of their felonious acts, and politicians who spend more time tweeting than governing.

While it is sometimes difficult to dig down to the facts in a post-truth society, it can be done with a modicum of skepticism, cynicism, and plain old rational thought. Those who are non-skeptical – who believe everything they hear – and those who are overly-skeptical – who believe nothing – probably should not be respected. A person deserves no respect if they think the world is flat, or if they believe Harry Potter is a real wizard boy. It serves no purpose to be cynical about Pythagorean theorem after seeing the proof, or being skeptical about arbitrary things like whether the alphabet is in the right order.

CEO's do not deserve respect simply for being the head of a company. Executives do not arrive at their position by accident, their achievement was likely made through shrewdness, greed, and self-centeredness, or, worse yet, nepotism. If you do respect them, it should be because of what they do. No one who commands respect deserves it until they earn it. They do not deserve respect simply because they are tall, thin, and possess a full head of hair.

Companies do not deserve respect, partly for the same reasons CEO’s do not deserve it. But the main reason is because companies are not people. Giving respect to a company is akin to respecting a dining room set, a tire iron, or a rock.

Sports teams do not deserve respect simply because one lives in the same geographic area as a team. In fact, even the good teams do not deserve respect simply because they won a game. Statistically speaking, all the teams are similarly matched, one will always win a game, one will win a majority of games,and one will eventually end up winning the championship due to probability and dumb luck.

Along those same lines, people who support the winning team just because they won deserve no respect. There is nothing noble about backing a winner. By the same token, people who constantly support perpetual losers deserve no respect; they should know better.

Finally, people who tell you who you should and should not respect do not deserve respect. Unless they do it with humorous intent, no matter how wonderfully they succeed, or how miserably they fail.