Taylor Hembree

I identify myself as a libertarian. I’m pretty conservative on fiscal issues, the military and international issues — but I’m pretty liberal when it comes to social issues.

I know some will probably call me a liberal snowflake and that’s OK. I can take it. But, one thing that I can’t take is the amount of sheer disrespect I have recently seen play out in our nation’s political arenas.

The newspaper receives TONS of disrespectful comments online. People will always criticize newspapers, especially now in the era of ‘fake news’ but between being called a “mullet wrapper” and “the union-disorder,” it’s hard not to feel a tinge of bitterness when reading the comments. I’ve learned to push that hard feeling aside and move on with my day. 

The disrespectful comments we receive online are only the tip of the iceberg. The computer screens we are constantly surrounded by doesn’t help — the anonymity and lack of face to face interaction add to the disrespectful speech. 

Hate speech certainly isn’t new. It has been around between groups or people who didn’t see eye to eye. Disrespect spewed during the days of Jim Crow. Disrespectful remarks reared their head when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand for the national anthem. The Latinx culture depicted in the Super Bowl halftime show has been scrutinized for days with disrespect to what the women were trying to express on that national stage. Examples of disrespect toward others are not hard to find. 

Politics these days is tribal. The value we place on labels that attempt to define a political party doesn’t help in uniting us. It seems that we have been sworn to one side or the other without considering what’s right and wrong. 

I didn’t watch the most recent State of the Union address. I am constantly surrounded by politics at work — whether in the literal sense or not — and I just wanted to be able to turn my brain off for a while. 

As I laid in bed and scrolled through my newsfeed, all I saw were GIFs, images and social media statuses making reference to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi ripping up the copy of Pres. Trump’s speech at the close of his address. 

While my instant reaction was ‘way to go, sis!’ as it empowered me as a woman to stand up for what I believe in, as I took a step back, my opinion on what happened changed. 

Outside of my professional life, I don’t shy away from my political opinions but I am ashamed of having that initial guttural empowered reaction. While the juxtaposition of a misogynistic President and a pissed off Nancy Pelosi was one that I personally appreciated, I realized that THIS, this is what’s wrong with society today. 

Pelosi ripping up the speech, in my opinion, was a sign of utmost disrespect. On national television with people of all ages watching, she set an example of how we could treat our peers, our superiors, and other people in general. 

While I don’t agree with President Trump’s beliefs he is still a human being. 

Pelosi generated attention by disrespecting the person who leads our nation. She made it “OK” for children to not listen to their parents, for employees to mouth off to their bosses with no repercussions and for us to disrespect others who happen to disagree with our views.

She created another layer of tribal politics. She didn’t act like an adult in power. 

It makes me sad in this age of women empowerment and female self-love, that she is someone our younger generation, college students, high school students, may look up to as a role model.

Instead of actually ripping up the speech, Pelosi could have waited for the fact-checking of the speech to counter the points she took issue with. Instead, she created a meme of “resistance” when there are so many other, powerful and smart ways to resist without being blatantly disrespectful to another human. 

Whether it’s the president, a homeless person, your mom or any human being, we all deserve respect at a very basic level. Opinions are opinions, not facts. We all have a unique brain that gives us our opinions. Let’s remember that. 

—Taylor Hembree is Content & Design editor at The Union-Recorder. She can be reached at thembree@unionrecorder.com.

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