Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

A recent kerfuffle on a web site reminded me of a column I wrote a while back about how we all handle conflicts we have with others. The column mentioned how my cousin Joyce handles differences she has with others and compares my own somewhat kamikazee way I react when I feel I’m being treated poorly, with disrespect, slammed; maybe even in a few cases scammed or ripped off.

A personal note must be made here for those “in the know:” the most recent “kerfuffle” was not the last two, more the others mentioned.

And it all reminds me of the birth certificate nonsense.

A while back a relative decided because we didn’t agree about something politically that, once again, the whole room, and specifically Ken, needed to be lectured, talked down to and humiliated. This was the apex of putting up with this behavior for years and the smart ass, arrogant, little boy act had simply gone on steroids that weekend.

My reaction: simply refusing to put up with the behavior, and those who enable it, by never coming back again has created a bit of a stink in the family, but that’s their problem. Well “their problem” is my take on it. But there’s another, more important, phrase I have discovered since then and started using…

I decide if I can put up with how you treat me. Not you.”

Oh, you have the freedom to say anything you want, but I decide whether I’m going to put up with it, push back, or just shove you out of my life. There’s a tired, yawn inspiring, Sleeping not so Beauty (in my case), saying, “Respect is earned.”

No, it isn’t. Not if you want to get along, or avoid creating further social roadblocks up ahead. Some respect has to be automatic.

Even if it’s someone you don’t know, when they join the conversation, do you order them to shut up until they’ve “earned” your respect?

When someone disagrees with you do you sneer and say, “Then you’d better get yourself ‘educated?'”

Do you really think social situations would ever work if everyone must be subjected to everyone’s quite subjective, different, rules for earning respect?

When people talk with you, in a group or individually, do you expect them to put up with a barrage of critiques, put downs, insults or your condescending attitude until they “earn” your respect?

Well be prepared to be shoved out of my life, pal-sie. Physically, if I must.

No, I believe some basic respect must be part of any interaction and then respect is piled on. Respect can also be lost real fast. This goes for acquaintances and relatives, though the last often, by necessity, get just a little more hanging rope. But then the neck snaps faster and it hurts more.

Great plan. I’ll bring the popcorn and cheer the loudest.

Somehow I can’t imagine living life otherwise. Anything else, in my opinion and to be a bit crude, makes me, “Your bitch.” That… I won’t be. Yet, my cousin Joyce seems to have the opposite philosophy. In a long dispute with her sister she put up with a lot of stuff that would make me do the shove routine. In fact I have “shoved” once: I shoved one of my brothers (not physically) out of my life for a few years because I simply would not put up with how he was treating me. I didn’t yell. I didn’t lecture. I simply dropped him out of my life. When we finally got back together again he was told so before we even met and we talked. We made up. No, we didn’t kiss. Yuck.

Never you mind he simply started to sneak away from eating that heaping helping of Brussels Sprouts and returned to a somewhat milder version of more lecture than talk.

Sigh. Brothers. You can’t kill them. Someone always finds the body. Never enough places to put all the parts. Oh… bloody… Hell, now what do I do with the chainsaw I bought for that purpose? Well, I do have a fallen tree, or two (actually at least 3),  here on the property, so I guess “I got… wood.”


Barack Obama seems more Joyce like. All this time and all this birth certificate nonsense and he kept his cool. What is this guy, the Iceman? Note: that solved nothing. Instead the kerfuffle got worse, and worse, and worse, until he addressed it with… giving in. He offered the vault certificate. I’m told, regardless of continuing claims, in Hawaii at least, it’s called the “vault” certificate.

Boy, that solved it all didn’t it? Ken had better follow the wiser Barack’s lead and stop with his various versions of pushing back and a final middle finger like response.

But it didn’t solve a damn thing. In fact exactly what I predicted would happen, happened: the controversy continued with attempts to rip apart the authenticity of that offering by some, and others simply switching the foot they’re shooting at just to make the Black man dance his way up to election time.

“Now let’s hassle him about his college records. Make the Black man prove he really is worthy of his degrees to everyone. Then we’ll rip that evidence apart.”

Feeding hungry sharks while close by is a really, really, really bad idea

Does anyone really think giving in will make his base vote for him? The same base that feels from time to time the man they elected is treating them poorly, and without respect, or concern for their issues?

Honestly, I don’t see the advantage to this approach. But I only see one advantage to mine: you won’t be around to piss me off anymore… or treat me like your personal “Bitch.”

Would that work as president? Well, it kind of did for Harry Truman. It also worked for George Bush, Jr., though I do have questions about that one. Besides, I think he spent more time being a bitch rather than keeping himself from becoming one. So did each and every one of his henchmen and women.

I’m not sure the “I decide how you treat me when I’m around, not you” would work for a president. Well, to a certain extent it has to. The office demands respect. To violate that rule creates one hell of a push back, or should. Note the absence of the shout down effect Congressmen got hit with during their townhalls a while back. To a certain extent it simply can’t work well for a very public figure. But it also taking it like Ali did doesn’t seem to work when the media sits back and whistles, or even helps promote the hate, the insult, the outright bullying.

Like during the Birther nonsense.

But it works for me. Not “well,” but it works. And I get the pleasure of not seeing or conversing with a lot of people I’d rather not see or converse with again. They’re out of my life so I don’t have to hear the noise. I’m no one’s “Bitch.” It can be a bit lonely, but yes… it works.

Ironically I’m guessing the “kerfuffle” that started this whole website-originated train of thought was between two people who both can be a bit kamikaze. Because both have had to put up with those who just took advantage of their former accommodating natures. So my only commentary regarding that is I’m guessing there’s no perfect way to deal with every piss-ed offeth situation.

And one more: just how much are you willing to put up with just to get along? You decide that for yourself. But never for me. No way. And what exactly does that say about you when you’re willing to enable some folks by putting up with their nonsense? 

Joyce? I’m certainly not claiming you’re anyone’s “Bitch.” Think you’d bristle a bit at that one. Perhaps more than “a bit?” I truly hope your more kind approach works at least as well for you as my “get the Hell away from me” approach works for me. I suspect, for you, it may work a lot better. But people being who they are, me being who I am, I found out long ago it wouldn’t work for me. Really, I have tried. Many times when I was younger. And it always simply made it all worse and more humiliating. I was taken advantage of more times than I can count, threatened, also mocked in public for being too accommodating by the very jerks who insisted I be so.

And I really, really don’t think it’s working all that well for Barack.

Makes me fear 2012.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2011
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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Joyce Lovelace
Joyce Lovelace
13 years ago

The problem for me, in shutting someone out, is an extension of a lifelong concern with “why?”. Why is their perspective so much different from mine?
Why do you and I, who are so close in age, grew up close to each other, and attended the same school system, see things so differently, about some issues? I suspect your experience at Liberty Street vs mine at Valley Cottage Elementary is a great deal of it. Why is cousin Jim so different? I was not as close to him but similar in age. I suspect the responsibility thrown on him by your Mom’s illness may be part of it.
Why is a particular northern cousin so hostile? I suspect geography to be part of the answer.
The dynamics of family political beliefs are very puzzling to me. Is it birth order, decade of birth, gender influence? What?
Tie that to my naive faith that the ideals we were taught in grade school, Sunday school and scouting, are the ideals we should live our lives by, and I am hopelessly lost.
Perhaps as the “baby” of the family – I just want my older siblings to like me?
Mom really felt that blood was thicker than water. I’d add that, family can make the cut that bleeds, easier than a stranger.

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