By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – I notice how John Kerry used his farewell speech in the Senate to bemoan the decline in respect among the members, and while I thought he might have been a little more willing to accept his share of the blame for that, there’s no doubt he had a valid point.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Hardly a day goes by when we don’t experience the unpleasant fallout from the loss of respect in our culture, from excessive, gratuitous profanity to the evaporation of simple courtesies.

And right after reading Kerry’s speech, I happened upon a Globe story about a Massachusetts Appeals Court ruling that a pre-teeen vandal’s probation be extended until he takes responsibility for the disrespect he showed his neighbors.

Apparently, this 11-year-old boy living in Easthampton spray-painted graffiti on nearby homes, causing hundreds of dollars in damage. A court agreed to delay juvenile delinquency charges if the kid would reimburse the neighbors for the damage.

But after failing to pony up a dime for a year, a juvenile court judge extended his probation and ordered him to get a job, a move his lawyer, incredibly, appealed.

“Where does a 12-year-old find work to pay this off? It’s not going to happen,’’ the lawyer whined to the Globe.

The response from the appeals court: the kid can get a paper route, do some yard work, shovel some snow, do some baby-sitting, deliver some groceries, or recycle bottles and cans, just for starters.

As the court put it: the judge’s order was “instilling in the juvenile the important values of respect for others (as well as their property) and a basic understanding of the value of work.”

That such a lesson would apparently go untaught by the kid’s parents and be opposed by his lawyer, tells you all you need to know about why the social fabric is unraveling.

Thank goodness for the local DA who prosecuted the case, who notes: “He had two strong arms and two strong legs to make his way over to his neighbor’s house. He can use those two strong arms and two strong legs to pay restitution.’’

Meanwhile, the defense attorney is mulling an appeal to the SJC.

Apparently, we’ve sunk so low we need to waste their time enforcing the most basic common sense standards of respect.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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