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Respect-Mongering On The Interwebs

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You may have noticed this strange phenomena happening in the online social world. It’s permeating blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, and honest-to-goodness legitimate news sites (like HuffPo, because that’s totally legit.) I call it Respect Mongering. More and more people are clamoring about feeling disrespected, marginalized, victimized, and bashed.

Respect mongering isn’t the same as being justifiably upset about a real affront. When 50 Cent made injudicious and derogatory statements about a derelict fan “looking autistic”, it was justifiable to be insulted by the tone and intent of the remark.

When that teacher in New Jersey was caught by a recording device calling Stuart Chaifetz’s kid a “bastard”, outrage was an acceptable reaction because there is never, ever a circumstance where a teacher should EVER call a student a name, especially an autistic student. That is just flat-out abuse.

But these aren’t the kind of occurrences I’m referring to here. I’m talking about when people leave nasty comments about a blog post where someone talks about their own experience with something, and they express their own opinions about that experience. Similarly, I’ve seen this when someone expresses an opinion on Facebook that meets with venomous attacks.

It’s one thing to say something completely horrible, like “conservatives are evil, face-eating zombies.” Ok, see that there? That is a statement that frames a whole group of people in a negative light, and makes a false assertion about said group. That is a bad thing. That is something that invites vitriolic opposition.

But what’s been happening is more like this: someone says on their blog, or in a Facebook Comment that “my conservative next-door neighbors remind me of evil, face-eating zombies.” Now this is different. See, the person has expressed their own opinion, not about a large group, but about someone specific to their social sphere, and is probably referring to some kind of negative interaction they have had with this specific neighbor. Maybe they even know for a fact that their neighbor engages in the abuse of bath salts. Who knows? But this is the kind of statement that will bring a barrage of nasty, hate-filled comments by people that are OUTRAGED that someone could be so prejudiced against the face-eating zombie people that are out there in the world doing good deeds and contributing to society.

Similarly, it will also spur negative responses from people that believe the statement implies that ALL conservatives are face-eating zombies. And OHMYSWEETBABYJESUS, Sarah Palin could never be a face-eating zombie, because she lives right there by Russia, and they would not allow the threat of face-eating zombies to be that close to the Mother Land. And Sarah cares to much about America and she knows lots of things about stuff to ever be a face-eating zombie, so WHERE DO YOU GET OFF SLANDERING SARAH PALIN??

Official White House Photo.
Not really.

Do you see how this might be a tad…nit-picky? Perhaps a bit over-the-top?

But this happens almost every day to someone who has innocently put forth their own opinion based on their own experience. You know, it’s like when someone writes about their personal parenting experience of their autistic child, in their own home, and maybe they decide to write about how difficult or challenging they are finding it, and someone goes all unhinged and starts a campaign to shut them down.

Yeah, maybe like that.

Or, like when someone *cough* makes up a cutesy picture with a snappy saying about parenting a child on the spectrum, and someone completely loses it and accuses the person of being “defamatory and ruthlessly harsh”. Especially when the person, who is usually inclined toward a biting sarcasm (cough), went out of their way to make something happy and positive.

Defamatory and Ruthlessly Harsh, or the truth as I see it?

Here’s the thing. We live in a free country where expressing our thoughts and opinions is a right and freedom that is protected. It’s protected even if you don’t agree. So, while I may have personally thought that 50 Cent’s comment was insulting and hurtful, and perhaps I did or did not partake in a Twitter campaign of sending out dozens of pre-scheduled tweets educating him about autism and requesting an apology, I still would not deny him the right to say such stupid and ignorant things publicly.


And if someone on their blog, or their Facebook feed makes a statement about their own personal experience with something, as long as it doesn’t degrade and insult a whole group of people, then why not let it be?

I’ll leave you with one more example:

If someone on, say, Facebook, compares liberals to “people that wear helmets and lick the Windex off of bus windows”, then this is pretty unkind and an obvious attack on people with special needs. It may be a crude attempt at humor, but it is still bad and wrong and ugly. This thing invites unhappy comments.

But if someone says that liberals are “a silly bunch of clowns”, then that statement is okay. It’s not okay because it’s a true statement, because obviously that is just WRONG. It’s okay because clowns aren’t offended at being compared to liberals, and people in general just don’t like clowns. And frankly, clowns are silly sometimes.

Do you see?

Restraint and humor, that’s what we all need to exercise when trolling around the alternate universe of the interwebs. Maybe instead of all this respect mongering, we can learn to laugh and learn to accept that we may be reading one person’s personal account, not an across-the-board depiction of someone or something.

But hey, if you wanna bash…gimme a sec to get these earrings off, and let’s have a go, shall we?



39 responses »

  1. I love your blog and your posts. Don’t let anyone make you stop writing or who would I laugh with?

  2. Someone was offended by your sweet little bootcamp saying? Is there no limit to the depths of butthurtery these days!? Loved this, though. “Respect mongering,” you’re SO right about it all.

    I cannot believe 50 Cent possibly hates cats.

  3. Oh, cue the outrage!! You KNOW you denigraded drill seargents EVERYWHERE, Flan!!!

    My analysis of this entire phenomenon of which you speak is this: 1.) People just do not know how to listen, and 2.) People just do not know how to read, at least not analytically, rendering them completely incapable of discerning THE POINT. Also, 3.) Some people just looooove drama. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid these people.

    Anyone who found your FB post “defamatory” or “ruthlessly harsh” needs to get themselves a dictionary to learn the meanings of those words. And while they’re at it, maybe they could also get themselves a real problem to complain about.

    Also? You may want to think about incorporating more rainbows and kittens in your FB posts. Just to be safe.

    • OMG, I wrote that line about rainbows and kittens before I even went to FB and saw that whole mess. I think we share a brain, Flan. Which means we have a 50% greater chance of being done in by Sarah Palin. . .I mean zombies.

    • Right?! I mean, I wish I had spare time to just sit around feeling indignant about every little thing. Geez people, go clean something. Besides, I can be WAY more offensive than that pic.

    • I missed all the drama, but I’m pretty certain that most people on FB do not know how to read! I’ve gotten in ridiculous FB drama on a support group for a condition my daughter has by gently correcting misinformation and the other poster majorly freaked out. It was alarming.

  4. Seriously? Who freaked out on you about that poster? What could they possibly find offensive about it? I mean, maybe if you compared raising autistic kids to boot camp and talked about getting screamed in your face and that it’s like being in war, I could see. But yours was positive.

    I agree with you. Totally!

  5. You hit it out of the park as usual. It seems like many are looking for a fight…something to be outraged about. I don’t have the energy for it! O.K. so Fifty is an asshole. Are we really surprised by that?

    • Yeah, I have to conserve my energy for meltdowns and IEPs, not sparring over trivial things on Facebook. Poor 50, at least he finally kinda sorta apologized.

  6. I think that person was barking up the wrong tree. Seriously. I know that when we put things out there we open ourselves up for criticism but here’s my thing…..there is a big difference between constructive feedback and an outright assault. I am always astounded with what people think they can and say on the internet. I have this one rule that I stick to and it’s pretty simple–if you can’t be willing to sit down in someone’s house and say what you’re typing, it’s best you not say anything at all.

  7. I don’t even understand how anyone can be insulted by your meme. I read those comments and in my opinion, she just came for you and it wasn’t fair. Don’t even sweat it, some people thrive on drama.

  8. I LoVe your posts!!! Please don’t change your writing style. Just to be safe include more rainbows, hearts & all around cutesy stuff.

  9. You know I love you. I loved your little poster. AND NOW I’m trying to figure out how it’s offensive. All I see is truth.

  10. Ah, Flannery, how I love thee.

  11. It’s unanimous. We all love you. I only understand a portion of this post truthfully – the bit about licking windows because I saw where that came from. As far as the cutesy picture, as you call it – I LOVE it. And btw, you scared the s#*% out of me with Sarah Palin – and I’m thinking that’s her on a good day, right? 😉 xoxo

  12. A) That Palin picture scared the bejeezus out of me. B) I’ve been to basic training, war, and have an autistic child. There are more than a few similarities. Except there is definitely more poop involved with raising a child. C) Preach, sister!

  13. I blame these economic times. We’re all on edge about things that are mostly totally out of our control and we’re all freaking the shit out over one thing or another ALL THE TIME. So that makes us prone to latch onto any stupid thing within our sphere of interaction and decide that THAT’s what we’re totally pissed about, instead of our bankruptcy, or our lack of sleep, or our lay-off. . . And I still think calling asshat people window lickers is funny, because I’ve known/worked with/loved a lot of special needs people, and I’ve never seen any of them lick any windows, so that is not where my mind automatically goes. Now dogs, on the other hand. . .I’ve seen a lot of dogs lick windows. And toddlers. Which now makes me think I should be offended, because equating asshats to dogs or toddlers is totally insulting to dogs and toddlers.

  14. OMG!! This post was awesome! I’m so glad I didn’t miss it! Also, it exlains the cutesy post with kittens and rainbows I saw not long ago. To be honest, I was like “WTF?” but it all makes sense now!!! **wipes away tear** The bootcamp post you’re talking about… Just left my head spinning I was so confused! And I tried to get her to say exactly what it was that bothered her about it, but she refused to answer, kept going off on tangents and then ended up reporting me!! Seriously, some people need to get a clue.

    I agree with this post whole heartedly. I also think your photo memes (or whatever they’re called) *rock*!! I *heart* them so much!! And you’re right about the other stuff you mentioned too. It’s true that people just hide behind a computer screen and *vent* at unsuspecting strangers. I’m really happy you saw the funny side though and busted out the rainbow kitties. I have to go back and find that one now!! **lol**

    • Oh yay, thank you! I’m glad you didn’t miss it too, I knew you’d get a laugh.

      In a way, I was so glad for the opportunity to write something snarky with a zombie Sarah Palin picture, because that opportunity doesn’t come around often enough.

  15. I feel like I should say something about the defamation of clowns, but I kinda hate clowns. Also, I think the meme is dead on. People get awfully worked up about trivial details. Since facebook is 99 percent trivial details, I would think they could find more relevant targets elsewhere. Keep at it, offending people means you are doing it right. 🙂

  16. This same thing was what got me upset the other when someone blasted a blogger for thier own opinions. It’s a free county and we have a right to express our opinions on our own blogs. If you don’t like it don’t read it. Kudos to you for saying what I have been feeling lately. I reposted this on twitter and facebook for you. Hopefully some people will open their eyes and stop bashing people for their own personal opinions.


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