It is an act of civility to be respectful toward others – but it’s 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.
The “yes, 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 him.
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 Remington 870.
Once upon a time, citizens didn’t 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 don’t sweat you,” Paulie told Clubber Lang.
Citizens in a free country bound by the rule of law ought not to sweat cops, either.
Unfortunately, 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. You’ve 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 being bullied.