Annemarie and I attended the Presidential Inauguration for President George W. Bush’s second term in January, 2005.  I understood that there would be protests in and around Washington, DC; however, I did not expect to see the extremely virulent, vile, abusive, and totally disrespectful display of protest signs, including suggestions of violence as well as explicit and profane epithets directed personally at the President.   

It is not that I was surprised that the mob of unruly protesters was capable of such rude, obnoxious, and distasteful behavior but that they did not have the good sense to understand that while asserting their right to protest they should have also exhibited some respect for the Office of the President of the United States if not the man himself.   It is one thing to disagree with the government, as represented by the President and his policies or decisions; it is quite another thing to reduce your protest to a personal attack on the person of the President.

It is a sign of the times that people in general and those that feel the need to vent in the streets, in particular, have lost all sight of the social restraint that comes when you have respect for authority.   I am not suggesting that as a free society we should not openly question authority; however, there is no value in simply lashing out at authority figures on a personal level as if berating, belittling, and insulting them will make things better or effectively advance your cause.

As an aside, for several years before I retired from my law career, I did defense work representing police officers who were sued for alleged civil rights violations, usually based on allegations of excessive force.   It always amazed me how many of these litigants fought with, cursed at, spit on, and generally were abusive to the police officers before, during, and even after their arrest, much of which was caught on tape.  It always seemed to me that it would take an incredibly disrespectful not to mention reckless individual to engage in these antics with an armed police officer.  Again, a sign of the times.

As far back as the protests over the Vietnam War, there has been a new breed of protestor that is extreme, disrespectful, impatient, and prone to reduce everything to a catchy slogan or “sound bite” instead of developing real ideas in a positive manner.   My theory is that the post war baby boomers were the first generation raised in an environment of instant gratification and slick advertisements on television where every concept was reduced to thirty seconds of jingles and Madison Avenue slogans and nothing has changed ever since.

I am part of that post war generation and yet I grasp the idea of showing respect where it is due even when I disagree.   I have not agreed with or liked every President, for example, but I always respected both the Office and the abilities of anyone who can rise to the highest pinnacle of his chosen profession.  Respect for our elected officials, the police, or authority figures, in general, may be hard to come by these days; however, we all need to understand that there is nothing wrong with showing a little respect even when we disagree or as we air our grievances.

On Monday, Joe makes some personal observations in “Let Me Get The Door For You”.