Respecting people with whom you disagree
This is respect — A member of the Wilkinsburg Arts Commission asked borough council member Pamela Macklin to meet to discuss a council vote that hadn’t gone the way the Arts Commission expected. Pamela replied, “Yes, I will meet to discuss; but I don’t think you are going to change my mind.”
This is disrespect — Three days before the primary election, I was walking from house to house distributing a half-page of answers I wrote to an anonymous flyer attacking Magisterial District Justice Kim Coles-Hoots. I said to a woman who was sweeping her front walk, “Can I give you this information?” She answered curtly, “Don’t waste your time.” I was surprised, because I always take a handout offered to me, thinking there’s no need to insult someone who wants to distribute their information. Even when I expect I disagree with the content, I take the handout and give it a quick look to see whether it could be saying something I haven’t already considered.
I thought– Are people who live in the Regent Square neighborhood of Wilkinsburg agreeing among themselves that people who live in other Wilkinsburg neighborhoods are the enemy? Looking at her yard full of Neighbors Unite Wilkinsburg campaign signs, I felt the woman was saying to me, “You aren’t one of us. Whatever you support, it must be wrong.” I said, “I think people hosting campaign signs should stay informed about their cause.” She snarled at me, “I was nice enough to tell you not to waste your time. You don’t know what I meant by that; maybe I meant I already know what’s on your flyer. You don’t know how I’m going to vote. All right, I’ll take your fucking flyer and throw it in the garbage.”
I have considered whether “don’t waste your time” can be taken as respectful in any circumstance, in any tone of voice. I think not. I think “don’t waste your time” is per se disrespectful.