Thursday, November 5, 2009


There are a lot of things I dislike on the current scene --- the cynical superficiality of celebrity worship, the disappearance of personal time, the intrusiveness of cellphones, eating lunch at a desk, the hyped-up and dumbed-down news media, the devaluation of privacy --- it's a long list and I won't bore you with the rest of it. Not today, anyway.

Today, I'm revved up about respect or, more accurately, the lack of it.

Lets start with the lawyers. The Law Society of Upper Canada is concerned about the amount of boorish behaviour among its members. Apparently the last few years has seen an explosion of unbarristerial conduct ranging from rude remarks to physical assault of clients.

The society's head, Derry Millar, theorized in a Toronto Star article, "Our society isn't as polite as it was. People on their BlackBerrys and their phones have no idea of who is around them. They are not engaged. You phone somebody and you get an automated attendant. We've lost social interaction and people are overstressed, overworked and rushed."

Read, "In the scramble to maximize one's billable hours so one can make the payments on one's Mercedes, pay one's orthodontist, and extend the dock at one's Muskoka cottage, something must be sacrificed, and civility is that something. Sorry."

It was bound to happen. While it's always fun to take a poke at the legal profession, which has more than its share of condescending, pompous, assholes, they just reflect the increasing coarseness of the larger society.

And, sorry to disagree, but the cause is not the pace of modern life, although that no doubt shortens tempers and provides cover for behaving badly.

The primary cause is a lack of respect for each other.

The street term "dissed" means "disrespected," and being dissed is the cause of many a killing of one youth by another. Adolescent lack of self esteem ensures prickly sensitivity to perceived slights, with predictable consequences.

What is not grasped is that respect is returned when respect is given. Both lawyers and street punks need to learn that.

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