Webster defines the word in one sense as a Right and in another as a Privilege. Maybe this explains the confusion surrounding the word. If you are entitled to respect, what that really means is that you deserve respect because you have earned respect. If you think that you are entitled to respect simply for being, well, get over yourself pal. I may treat you respectfully, that doesn't mean I am required by law to actually respect you, nor will I.
Another of Webster's definitions is that of an entitlement spending program. A right to payment created by act of law. When you think you're entitled to money simply for being...well, I think that's a problem. However, entitlements that come through what is earned, that is not so much of a problem.
Next time you hear someone say that they are entitled to this, ask them if they've earned it. The reaction I get is both amusing and disheartening.
If you want to know what an entitlement society looks like when the entitlements begin to ebb, look at England over the past 4 days and Greece over the past 18 months. The governments of those countries have had to retract many of their something for nothing pledges. Riots, fires, looting, murder. This is the response of the huddled masses. They just want the "respect they're entitled to." So, how do they earn that respect, by destroying homes, property, businesses, lives. By rampaging through Manchester and London or Athens? One couple was seen rampaging through the streets with their child along in her stroller. As windows were smashed, storefronts looted, they jovially trotted along with the crowd, hurling insults at police.
This is the entitlement society.
In Wisconsin, some were hoping for similar scenes leading up to the recall attempts against 6 Republican Senators in that state. A supporter of the movement and Professor of Political Science lamented that the "revolution has not occurred" and "the Proletariat did not take over the streets." I am not sure if the lament was because the scenes of this past winter did not repeat themselves in Wisconsin's capital or because the losses prevent the extension of entitlements by right. More likely it's both. That story is here.
More and more I've begun to believe that our world is turning into Never Never Land. Where no one wants to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives. Instead, we're all entitled to life and happiness at the cost of liberty. It's time to cast off these delusions, it's time to grow up.