Deborah Hope riffs on the many meanings of Respect in the Australian. She’s right. It has become a flexible word, prominent in the vocabulary of relativism. All beliefs are entitled to respect (but especially mine …) She might also have said that the discourse of respect is usually self-centred and blaming. Feeling disrespected is a more common sentiment than feeling ashamed for disrespecting others.
The Guardian reports in a story headlined ‘We’re not germs or louts. Sarkozy should’ve said sorry’ that some French rioters are complaining that the French government doesn’t respect them. It sounds like gangster-talk, and it might be dismissed as posturing. However, there is merit to the complaint that French society disrespects its underclass. French immigration and
social policy has tended to marginalize East European, African, and North African immigrants and their children. Some French politicians have used inflammatory language toward everyone who lives in La Zone, which has helped keep the anger and crime going. Some political and media figures are explaining the riots as a mass protest against social conditions. The rioters have the government’s attention, which is a kind of respect.