More Yes Sirring
It is an act
of civility to be respectful toward others but its
an act of cringing servility to call a cop sir. It degrades
the speaker and it elevates the recipient of the honorific beyond
his station. A cop is just a guy (or a he-gal) wearing a uniform
designed to intimidate and the hardware to back it up. To call this
enforcer sir is of a piece with a field hand circa 1840
doing the same as he inquires, oh-so-deferentially, of massa.
sir bowing and scraping one routinely sees during episodes
of fascist porn such as the TV shop, Cops is atrocious. Hulking,
buzz-cut Officer 82nd Airborne stuffed inside his flak jacket and
BDUs has pulled over some hapless motorist and is unctuously lecturing
his captive prey about such things as the luscious goodness of seat
belt laws or the Great Evil of possessing an arbitrarily illegal
drug. The prey has assumed the position meekly nodding and
yes-sirring. Agreeing with all that Officer 82nd Airborne tells
Or at least,
pretending to. In precisely the same way that striped apes
on the chain gang would yes boss the guy on the horse cradling the
Once upon a
time, citizens didnt behave like stripe apes or prison inmates
in the presence of a mere cop. The attitude was best expressed by
the character Paulie in the Rocky movies: I dont
sweat you, Paulie told Clubber Lang.
a free country bound by the rule of law ought not to sweat cops,
they have to chiefly because the country is no longer free
and the law is no longer on their side. Cops have been empowered
to do almost anything and can get away with doing almost
anything. Hence, the fear. And the fearful Yes sirring. But
this only encourages them. Youve accepted your status as their
plaything. Made it clear you will tolerate anything are guilty,
ipso facto, of everything. Stop resisting!
This is dangerous,
both on the individual as well as the societal level for
the same reason that deferring to bullies on the playground is dangerous.
It emboldens them and it conditions you to accept
equalize things a bit, try to get them back on an even keel. Cops
are still in theory, at least mere public servants.
Typically, they are guys in their 20s or 30s who just barely got
out of high school or just barely into Turnpike Tech.
They are not heroes. They are not the Boss of
you or me, either. They are government workers with badges
and guns. Thats all. And certainly, nothing more unless
they have done something to earn being regarded more highly. Manning
safety checkpoints and radar guns aint that, either.
respectful adress: Hello, officer. Fine. But not Yes,
sir. You are probably a grown adult. Probably older than the
cop who has cornered you. The only occasion when Yesssir
is appropriate is when addressing ones superior in age
or ones superior in rank, if you are in the military. A 50-year-old
woman addressing a 24-year-old kid in a blue or black uniform as
sir is a species of vileness formerly confined to the
nations and places Americans once thought of as the opposite of
what it used to be like here.
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Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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