It is time to show some respect

ColumnistJune 7, 2017 

All the news outlets and social media have been abuzz this past week over the ill-conceived antics of Kathy Griffin. This is not the proper forum for recounting the rude, tasteless and disrespectful photo of her and the Trump mask that was posted online. We’ve all aware and have probably fully discussed what we have seen and heard.

Even though Ms. Griffin has apologized (I think), she and her attorney seem to be blaming the victim of the prank for everything that is now going wrong in her life. How that is going to play out is anyone’s guess, but the press at some point will undoubtedly move on to the next tweet or post or public comment.

Personally, I always try to put news items like this into prospective. How does it affect me, or the rest of the world for that matter? It comes down to the simple fact that it was a joke. A tasteless joke, but a joke, nonetheless. Kathy Griffin is a comedian. That’s what she does for a living. She is in the business of generating laughs through funny or snide comments or by shock value alone. She was trying to make a joke.

We all like jokes and we all like to laugh. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with picking on any elected official, especially the president, for the sake of a good laugh.

However, the line between good-natured ribbing and total disrespect has definitely been crossed by several entertainers, not just the one currently on the hotseat.

Hopefully we can all agree that the prank was of bad taste and should not have been posted. Again, I believe that we will all agree that as a citizen of this country, she has the right to express her opinion about the president and the job that he is doing. And that leads to the fundamental question that begs to be answered.

How is it that in this country we have lost the ability to disagree with the policies and ideals of an elected official and yet maintain respect for the office? I have always believed that my exercise of free speech is to be tempered with good manners and grace. I don’t have to agree with another person’s viewpoint, but that does not mean that I have the right to be rude or mean or downright cruel.

There are elected officials in this country that I simply cannot stand to listen to when they are speaking to the camera. I find myself wanting to shout at the television when they are uttering what sounds like total nonsense to me. I’m certain that they believe that their views are sound and just and reasonable, but I don’t feel the same way.

At this point, it is my duty to refrain from cheap, personal attacks and to focus on the viewpoints and our differences of opinion. That’s it. I must train myself to separate the views from the person. I realize that I have made it sound very simple, but in order for our nation to progress in a civilized manner, it is imperative that we restore some sense of civility in our daily dealings with one another.

What should have occurred in the case of Ms. Griffin? In the first place, she made an apology and should have stopped right there. As to President Trump, he should have been the bigger person and simply ignored the entire issue. After all, he has much more important work to do than to be concerned with the actions of one comedian trying to get laughs. As to the first lady’s comments, her response was appropriate, and now she needs to move on, as should all the rest of us.

Disagreement is not a bad thing. It is going to happen. Doing so with courtesy and kindness and respect is the key. By the way, if you happen to not agree with these comments, that is perfectly acceptable. All I ask is that you do so without personally attacking the columnist.

David Coffelt is a Harrisonville area resident and his email address is dcoffelt@coffeltlandtitle.com.

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