When Right Is All Wrong

July 22, 2015

We all have them, right?

All of us have those little pet-peeve words or phrases that just set us off, right? The kinds of things that people say either inappropriately or way too much?

We’re probably all offenders in one way or another, right? Let’s be honest: I’m sure I say something that drives somebody out there nuts. (If that’s the case, and if it’s you I annoy, please let me know.)

These days, my biggest pet peeve takes place any time a reasonably intelligent person delivers a perfectly logical sentence, then destroys it by asking what is perhaps the dumbest of questions. You know what I mean — somebody makes a statement, then tags it with a vocal upturn accompanied by, “…right?”

Here’s the deal: If you have to ask, “right?” after saying something to me, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m going to automatically think you’re wrong. Have a little confidence, will ya? Since when has it become the norm for people to request an answer every time they make a statement?

“Right?” has been an annoyance of mine for several years, but it recently reached the tipping point. During Independence Day weekend, I was watching all the Sunday-morning political talk shows as I normally do. I can barely make it through the week without my Face The Nation fix, after all. At the time, there was concern over potential terrorist threats that thankfully never materialized. But as I enjoyed an otherwise fantastic hour of MTP, one interview nearly drove me to drink. Check this out:

It’s bad, right?

The video is four minutes long, but let’s ignore the intro and begin to break it down at the 0:20 mark. Did you notice that in the remaining 220 seconds, the interviewee (whom I actually like very much as a journalist) uttered the word “right?” no fewer than 10 times? Seriously. TEN TIMES!

In case you missed any, here’s a transcript:


Mike: And then the third, right?, The Fourth of July being a symbol of America.

Me: I don’t know, Mike, is that why?


Mike: Put all three together, right?, and that’s why we were so focused on this weekend.

Me: Well, I suppose you’re right, but you’re the expert, after all.


Mike: So in terms of quantity, it’s ISIS, right?

Me: Wow. I don’t know. Really, I don’t know.


Mike: …the biggest thing we have to do is change the momentum on the battlefield, because the perception is that ISIS is winning, right?

Me: Please! Stop with the questions!


Mike: The tactical objective is to make it more difficult for them to move men and weapons out of their capital to the rest of Iraq and Syria, right?

Me: I am not well versed in military strategy, so I can’t answer that.


Mike: “…the second is the way they deliver it, right?, with their social media…”

Me: I don’t follow ISIS on Twitter. You tell me.


Mike: The third is this perception that they’re winning, right?, which draws people to you.

Me: Again, I am not an intelligence officer, Mike. I don’t know!


Mike: …and then we have to get after their narrative, right?

Me: Please, sir, stop badgering me with these questions.


Mike: So I hope so, right?

Me: Yes? No? I have literally no idea how to respond to this.


Mike: Because they’re worrying about their own security, right?

Me: Seriously, dude, this is your interview. I’m done.

This whole interview just set me off. As I mentioned, the “right?” thing has been like nails on a chalkboard for me for quite a while, but I’m hearing it constantly these days…thankfully not from any Ponies (seriously, thank you!).

Truth be told, I feel a lot better having aired this grievance. If I can change just one person’s speech pattern and give them some reassurance they don’t need my validation each time they say something, it will be time well spent, right?

Before I close, let me make add one caveat: My “right?” peeve isn’t the same as when people drop a fun/catty “I know, right?” When delivered under the right correct circumstances, IKR can be kind of funny…or at least add a little rhetorical texture to a comment or situation. I’m not a total fascist, after all.