Half the country - well, half the politically correct part of the country - can these days be seen wearing an orange bracelet. Orange, of course, is the color of the House of Orange, of which our
unelected head of state much-appreciated monarch is part.
In this case, however, the orange bracelets are supposed to show respect.
For whom exactly? Well, apparently, for everyone you meet.
Which is why I can't wear a bracelet.
Respect is something which needs to be earned. There are a lot of people I don't respect, and I'm not just talking about the innkeeper of café Postillon in Utrecht, who managed to launch my $2,000 ThinkPad and threw it onto the concrete this Monday.
To randomly start respecting people will do no more good than to randomly start shooting people walking out of a bank, in the hopes of hitting a robber.
Keeping a society working isn't about liking everyone. It's about being in the same boat together and sometimes vehemently disagreeing about the course it should go. The person sitting to your left may be smelling really funny and the person to your right may use very foul language. Some of them may wear long dresses and others may wear nothing at all. But a ground rule of any civilized society is that you don't try to throw the people you don't like out of the boat. This hasn't got anything to do with 'respect', but everything with good seamanship. Either keep the boat afloat, or have the ship go down, alongside with all of us.
This is the essential distinction between freedom of thought and speech on the one side, and understanding your actions are limited to the point where someone else's freedoms begin on the other, that Mohammed Bouyeri didn't get. You may wish another guy were dead, but there's a huge difference between saying it and whacking an innkeeper in Utrecht with a ThinkPad. Point is, by hurting someone else, you limit his freedom to wish you were dead. Plus, I really respect my ThinkPad a lot more than said innkeeper. Maybe I'll paint it orange.
There can be no healthy society unless all people can peacefully wish their neighbors a gruesome end. And I'm only half joking, if that.
Now, if anyone were to design a blue bracelet, as in the color of the water the Dutch have been battling for centuries as a community, I would wear it.
(Contact me if you're interested.)