Aretha Franklin showed up to sing at a White House hosted dinner titled “Women of Soul,” and while Obama was introducing her, he said:
When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African-Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved. They wanted some respect. Later, when somebody asked her why it had such an impact, she said, “I guess everybody just wants a little respect.” Today, they still do.
Yeah. He misspelled “respect.” That’s like misspelling Mickey Mouse. All you have to do is sing the stinking song. Anyway. You probably won’t be getting much R-E-S-P-E-C-T when you rule the free world and can’t spell. Sorry.
But the misspelling gaff is really a trivial matter. Everyone makes those kinds of mistakes. The bigger problem, I think, is Obama’s misunderstanding of the song. Is it really the marginalized groups that need some R-E-S-P-E-C-T? I don’t think so.
Perhaps Obama knows nothing at all about the history of the song Aretha Franklin turned into a hit. She didn’t write the song, you know. She just made it famous.
Otis Redding wrote it. And, if you listen to the lyrics carefully, this makes a lot of sense. With Otis Redding singing it, the upshot of the song turns out like this: “I pay the bills. I bring home the bacon. The least you could do is give me a little respect.” Franklin’s version sounds more like, “I’m a strong confident woman. I have what you need, but I don’t need anything from you. So you need to give me a little respect.” Eh.
I mean no disrespect, but the song actually makes much more sense coming from a man. Men long for respect the way women long for secure love. But for Obama to think this sentiment applies most significantly to African-Americans, women, or other “marginalized” groups is, in my opinion, an inversion of the song’s most obvious meaning.
Well, depending on what you mean by marginalized. The fact is that the “marginalized” groups Obama had in mind, on the whole, don’t deserve any respect just for being what or who they are. For them to demand respect as a human right is stupid.
I’m assuming from Obama’s comments about “who they loved” that he thinks homosexuals don’t get enough respect. But again, why do they deserve respect from the rest of us? Respect is not a right of human birth. What have they done to earn respect? Prance around in obnoxious thong parades? Dress in women’s clothes? Have you ever seen a homosexual bar, bookstore, website, etc. They are the most petty, sex-obsessed, ridiculous, tacky, childish, and ostentatious places in the world. Homosexuals need compassion, yes. Pity even. But respect? No.
What about the people on welfare (both black and white)? Do they deserve some R-E-S-P-E-C-T? No. Compassion maybe. Pity even. But again, not respect.
In the song, Otis Redding is the breadwinner. He gives his wife everything she wants and needs. He doesn’t even care if she does him wrong. But he just needs a little respect when he’s at home. That was fair, I think. It still is.
Taxpayers foot the bill. Taxpayers put up with insults. They’re constantly done wrong. And they get no respect. They actually do deserve respect for what they’ve done. But they don’t get it. So, Obama. This song is not a rallying cry for the marginalized first and foremost—unless you correctly count the taxpayer as the most marginalized voice in America.
The fact is that respect is something you earn. Not something that is owed to you on the basis of your humanity. No one deserves to be disrespected for the color of their skin or their gender. But your behavior can and should dictate the respect people give (or don’t give) you. When you are paying for someone else’s life, you deserve that person’s respect. Want respect? Pay your own way. Don’t take handouts. Don’t make a fool of yourself. Don’t demand respect. Command it. That’s what it means to me. For what it’s worth.