[extropy-chat] spect (was Putting God to Rest)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Apr 26 09:35:48 UTC 2007

Ben writes

> Anna Taylor <femmechakra at yahoo.ca> wrote:
> > Are you [Samantha] implying that any and all people that believe in
> > God should have no right to respect?
> ... and lots more about 'respect'.
> This 'respect' idea is quite interesting. It may be one of those words 
> that everyone uses, but often meaning different things.

Yes!  Indeed!  There has been some confusion here between respecting
certain ideas, respecting the right to express those ideas, and respecting
the individuals who hold those ideas.  All very different things, and all
easily prone to being confused by careless use of that word.  When a
word starts causing trouble, as I always say, look for substitutes and
rephrasings, and try to avoid using it.

> My take is that respect is earned. If i respect somebody or something, 
> it's because i've been impressed in some way.

Not for me.  I "respect" dogs and cats, for example, in the sense that
I try to not be aggressive towards them and show them a little courtesy
as we cross, say, in a crowded archway. As an aside, sadly, for many
humans, the respect they evince toward someone is governed by the

     Respect  =  Fear * competance / empathy

> Perhaps this is why 'no right to respect' is seen as a negative thing to 
> say. I don't think that believers in gods should have any right to 
> respect, not mine, anyway.

I wince everytime I read that word in contexts like these. Even when
I used it myself, above, to get my meaning across in few words. The
term ought to be dropped in this discussion, it seems to me.

> I don't respect anyone who holds irrational superstitious beliefs - not 
> for holding them, certainly.  [Thanks for the qualification!]
> I also have no respect for those beliefs themselves (which is a separate 
> thing, that some people often forget, or get confused about).

I don't know what the hell it means to respect one belief and not
another.  Is it meant that the subject _agrees with_ one of the 
beliefs and not the other?  Then why not a little plain speaking?
Bad, bad word.

> It seems funny to me that a lot of people think that they are 'owed 
> respect' from people they've never even met before.

I am owed courtesy and politeness from people I have never met
before, and, of course, freedom from violence at their hands. My
beliefs, on the other hand, can and should be freely savaged by
them, (but only up to the limit of civility).

> Suppose i said that Hitler was owed respect for his beliefs about the 
> nature of Jews?

You'd be sure to be misunderstood!  Bad, bad word!


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