The Media and The Respect of Authority
The power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge.
This morning (Feb 13th, 2008) most of the "tabloid tv news media" focused their attention on a couple of incidents where authorities stepped over the line. With both stories armed with video, the first one shows an officer literally dumping a paraplegic out of his wheel-chair onto the ground to initiate a search. The other story shows an officer wrestling a skateboard away from its 14 year old owner who was obviously skateboarding in a restricted area. The video also shows the kid refusing to release the skateboard when the officer grabbed hold of it.
While both of these incidents depict situations where authorities have crossed the line in performing their duties, I have to ask-----when was the last time you saw a video or news report that specifically showed the amount of disrespect the public displays for our authorities that have sworn to "protect and serve"? Has a portion of civil disobedience also "crossed the line"? Does the level of respect for most of those who put their lives on the line daily really deserve to be put in the same light as a few who made the wrong judgment in their actions? I would submit that for every officer that may have abused his or her authority; there are thousands who go about performing their daily jobs in a commendable and exemplary fashion. People are human and at times make mistakes when going about their daily lives. Most of these people also try to learn from their mistakes while attempting to not repeat them.
Even the vile narration written daily by the new media, (blogosphere), and at times the mainstream media, reflects the loss of an unwritten rule of respect we used to show for our leadership. The Colorado college paper that last year printed and published “Fuck Bush” on their front page is a perfect example of the gutter journalism our society has decided to tolerate. From the President of the United States on down to local leaders, the decay of the respect for authority at most all levels has become acceptable to the reader. While there are many in our government that may differentiate from each others ideologies, what are we teaching the generation behind us when it comes to respecting authority?
While dumping a disabled person from his wheelchair was despicable and required immediate discipline, I’m more worried about the generation of “skateboarders” that display their total lack of respect for authority and the mentality that they don’t have to display that respect when confronted. The frustration in the officers’ demeanor reflected this new and dangerous level our society has accepted as “normal dissention”. As a son of a United States Marine who fought at Guadalcanal, there was certainly a different level of respect that was demanded when addressing my elders or any authoritative figure. Most questions or request were followed by a “yes sir” or on rare occasions “no sir”, but there were few other options acceptable in the conversation. Even explanations were short and to the point. A derogatory remark was usually met with immediate discipline or repercussion. As I grew up, this level of respect was met with admiration and mutual respect from my peers and authorities alike. Even the occasional infraction where discipline was required, I know there were times where the level of discipline was reduced or diminished because of my upbringing. My concern is the breakdown in the level of discipline we tolerate in our society today, and what the ramifications will be tomorrow.