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Respect for authority starts at home, school

Last week’s shooting of six Philadelphia police officers in service of a warrant might have made a stir on cable news for one evening, but by now it is all but buried. The same will be true in the next day or so when the weekend carnage report from places like south Chicago and other major urban areas might garner a brief reference, but otherwise will be considered business as usual. What has become “typical” gun violence in major cities barely qualifies as news anymore, and it’s a shame.

The recent mass shootings permitted politicians and commentators to do what they seem to enjoy the most – turning events into convenient political talking points and attempts to advance various agendas. What a shame that an opportunity to discuss real issues degenerates into talking points and a blame game.

Whether it’s what happened in Philadelphia or El Paso or Chicago on an average weekend, the conversation inevitably turns political. We need more gun control. We need red flag laws. We need a further investment in mental health services.

However, setting aside the actions of the utterly insane, perhaps as a society we should examine the erosion of respect for authority. It might not be a factor when it comes to psychopaths, but in terms of the overwhelming majority of violent crimes and particularly those committed against police, there must be a correlation.

In recent years, politicians gain points with some communities by defaming police. Attacks on police have increased. New York police endured being soaked in water recently. Over the past few years, police have been refused service and even asked to leave commercial establishments because they make people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable? It seems logical that plenty of establishments should feel far more comfortable with police customers.

Respect for authority starts in homes and schools, with values passed on by parents and teachers – the greatest influencers on the mindsets of young people.

Yet the diminishing respect for authority isn’t primarily the fault of parents and teachers. The rights of parents have been eroded in favor of government interference. Don’t let your child out of sight, don’t pack your child a lunch the government feels is inappropriate or else government will step in.

Teachers in Minot aren’t the only ones with valid complaints about threats and actual acts of violence committed against them. They too have seen the intrinsic respect for teachers many readers remember diminished.

There will always be those whose respect for authority and even for human life is non-existent. Those are sick individuals. Yet one can’t quantify how many people who commit violent crimes are a result of having no respect for authority. After all, media is reporting that a rally is planned to support the Philadelphia shooter.

A rally for a felon who shot police officers and endangered many others?

Times have indeed changed and perhaps this time, not for the better.

As a society, we need to reinforce respect for legitimate authority figures, not diminish their importance.

That isn’t happening today. Yet it needs to in order to address the carnage that too often runs across television screens and front pages of newspapers.

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