With All Due Respect

Political conversation these days – and conversation in general, to tell the truth – is rank with the pungent scent of bullshit.  My life has been fairly short thus far but I've never seen people argue and pontificate with such a shameless disregard for the practical reality of their actions and intentions.  It's incredible and it's genuinely unprecedented in my lifetime.

I think one of my own small battles with this titanic wave of rancid disinformation is in the act of taking hopelessly cliched words and phrases and trying to use them the way they were meant to be used.  Taking the Orwellian "dying metaphors” or “verbal false limbs,” dusting them off, and putting them to their original end.

In so doing, I have discovered one of my all time favorite phrases in the English language:

"With all due respect"

Hitherto overused and misapplied, the phrase has been used mostly as a drab way to signal that its user is intellectual and serious.  A dull sort of high-brow window dressing.  I’m quite sure I’ve used it that way in the past.  But that’s not at all what the phrase means.  It means literally that “I will allow for you a certain amount of respect of which I think you are deserving.”  It does not make any claims about how much respect that actually is.  The reason I have learned to love the phrase “with all due respect” is that it’s always followed by an implied and unspoken coda; “but not an ounce more.”  

There’s a lot of nonsense out there.  It’s refreshing when a phrase can be tuned up and put to work; particularly one so laden with sarcasm.I very much enjoy arguing with people and am generally quite respectful, but the idea of leaving a person momentarily wondering just how much respect I think they are due, exactly, is too tempting to pass up.