“Back in the good old days, people knew how to respect each other because they’d get their asses kicked otherwise! It’s why kids knew they had to listen to their elders. And why women knew they had to have dinner ready by a specific time. And why certain folk knew they shouldn’t drink from certain water fountains.”

– someone remembering the times before the Internet invented assholes

There’s a Mike Tyson quote I often see bandied about on the Internet: “Social media made y’all way to[o] comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.” In other words, “society used to be more respectful when people knew saying the wrong thing to the wrong guy could get them physically harmed.”

And my immediate response to that sentiment is: You guys don’t actually want to live in that kind of world, right? That’s not the kind of society we’re advocating for, is it? Because the premise of Mike Tyson’s view suggests, “If you can handle getting punched in the face, disrespect people all you want.” Or even, “Those who punch best can dictate the rules of polite society.” Because “respect” is not an objective value; there is no universal standard for what is considered “respecting” or “disrespecting” people. If I’m with Mike Tyson and think he’s disrespecting me, I’m doubtful he’d be willing to correct his manners if I took a swing at his face.

Also, Mike Tyson’s been getting disrespected for decades before the existence of social media! He was the best face puncher in the world and that didn’t stop anyone from mocking him for being a crazy, violent criminal who talks funny!

– James