Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thoughtful rant about what might generically be referred to as "sensitivity training"

I've enjoyed a series of articles by Randy Cassingham about what he refers to as ZT-- "Zero Tolerance"--policies, especially in public schools. (You can find a few of them here, here, and here . . . among many others.) In essence, Cassingham says, ZT is the same as Zero Brains . . . and has no legitimate place in an educational institution.

Now comes a rant from a man subjected to corporate "training" concerning sexual harassment.
I find it deeply offensive to my personal sense of honor and integrity to be punished or otherwise lectured on something I did not do. Period. And to be subjected to two hours of second-grade style, “who can tell me what Johnny did wrong by telling Sarah she has a hot body” lecturing infuriates me on many levels.

To begin with, I do not need to be told this is inappropriate behavior. I already know that is inappropriate behavior. I learned that was inappropriate behavior not from the State of California or a battalion of corporate lawyers, but from my parents, who raised me to be polite, well-mannered, and who spent much of their own youth trying to form me into a civilized gentleman. I know, I can see the smiles on many faces already. It’s like I’m speaking in Aramaic.

I was treated to a video that had precisely the same emotional pitch and condescension as the old ABC After-School Specials, which is appropriate when aimed at 10-year-olds but in a room full of adults was unimaginably cloying and infantile. In this helpful lecture on the evils of hateful stereotypes, a clueless, insensitive white male managed to offend everyone without the dimmest awareness of his own boorishness until confronted and re-educated (with a rising string section!) by emotionally advanced, sensitive (yet strong!) women and his solemn, understanding (but firm!), black male superior.

I’m getting a little tired of this movie. I see this movie everyday. . . .

[T]he essence of the 22 page workbook I received (and for which I was not given a crayon with which to write nor a gold star when it was completed) was boiled down to a single sentence, in bold italics at the bottom of page 15:

It is not the intent of the alleged harasser, but the impact on the recipient.

It doesn’t matter if you meant to hurt someone. As long as someone was hurt, then harassment took place.

Now at the end of all this, the facilitator – who is clearly a lovely person, for this is not aimed at her – smilingly told us not to be paranoid but just to be careful not to offend anyone. And the other 23 people nodded happily and made jokes and goofed around to show how lighthearted and un-paranoid we suddenly all were. And yet, this harassment and sensitivity training did not succeed fully, because there was one person who was offended, and who in point of fact felt extremely harassed. And that person was me.

Perhaps, in future editions of the handbook, we can add another victim group to the protected category: rational adults. Perhaps I might contribute a chapter to this sensitivity training. Something like:

The rational adult is a small and shrinking minority in the workplace. His cultural heritage – which is just as valuable as anyone else's! – has taught him that “personal responsibility” means he has a right to feel insulted, offended and harassed when being lectured on things that he did not do, nor would ever contemplate doing. In this ancient and primitive culture, a person’s “honor” and “integrity” are relied upon to govern behavior. If such a person unknowingly gives insult, they will “apologize.” According to their tribal ethics, people who intentionally harm, insult or harass others deserve to be fired on the spot.

I am told this course was “preventative” – to stop harassment before it happens. Fair enough. Tomorrow, perhaps, we can have a course on how to prevent office electrocutions by sticking screwdrivers into the sockets, or a poison-prevention class involving two role-players and a gallon of copier toner, or perhaps we can facilitate a upper-level meeting to try and determine what warning placards may be missing from every object and sharp corner in the building, or a support group for those people rendered incapable of speaking or smiling for fear of giving some kind of unintentional offense to someone. These are all areas ripe for new legislation and demanding of state funding. Because when you really get down to how much unintentional offense there remains left to give, you can see we have a genuine crisis on our hands. . . .

My parents – remember them? – taught me at an early age that what people said or thought or wrote about me did not have the power to hurt me – only I can allow them to do that. My self-worth, self-respect and self-esteem are earned, and not given, and are therefore mine – impervious to anything in the outside world, which is why I am willing to sit at this desk, as the only one of 24 happy, smart, creative people, and look like some reactionary nut case for being enraged about the fact that we willingly submit ourselves to insults to our personal honor and integrity that our forefathers would never, ever have countenanced. And I am ashamed on behalf of them. But just me. No one else thinks anything of it at all.

And so, with smiles and good will all around, behind a plate of donuts and cartons of morning orange juice, we again fall another step from the adult world of action and consequence, to the warm, friendly, everlasting childhood of kindergarten, where no one’s feelings can ever be hurt and teacher is always there to make sure – in her gentle but firm way – that there will never be harmful consequences to your actions because your actions will be so curtailed in advance that offending someone – like feeding and housing yourself – are things that we simply no longer have to worry about any more.

And the endless sleep, in the warm, clean, fluffy bed, continues unabated.

And the post itself is followed by a series--a lengthy series!--of readers' comments.

Among them:
Now that you have completed harassment training, you have ethics training to which to look forward. A couple years ago, I couldn't help but notice that in all the scenarios in the ethics training, the villian was a white male and the ethical saints were minorities or women or both.

Most of us make a rational calculation that it's just not worth challenging these racist and sexist indoctrination flicks, but my mind is start to change on that. The environment at work has degenerated to the point where the white male is the designated perpetrator. If you send a recipe for apple pie to a female colleague and she calls it harassment, then that's what it is. And there are real consequences.

What managers have done is give the craziest, most dysfunctional workers license to wreak havoc to their team on a whim. I think it's time to steadily push back with sharp and persistent criticism of the rotten status quo.
I did the mandatory training about 7 years ago, just before I became self-employed. Actually, I did learn something in the class: that the person who invariably gets named in a lawsuit is NOT the office boor, but rather a more-or-less decent person who inadvertently and innocently makes a wrong comment to the wrong person. And even supposing you stay the course and prevail in count, terrific - so now you can add "Successfully defended against sexual harassment accusations" to your resume?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Background on this diversity push for those interested. . .

Corporate Diversity Training

[How diversity training was started in an elementary classroom (which it why it's so demeaning and condescending for adults) and then peer reviewed on the Johnny Carson show (akin to being on Jay Leno for approval).]

Following are all comments from other people at the message forum unless in [ ].
The teacher was using behavior mod which is a totalitarian reeducation technique. They use it in college orientation, and it produces people who think any controversial topic is taboo.

Townhall article excerpts:
Anyone doubting that intimidation is the name of the game should read The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training, a new Special Report published by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Diversity training is a brief, intensive orientation program of lectures, audiovisual materials and role-playing exercises. In tone and substance, sadism rules the day. The training operates on an assumption that employees must be punished for sins not yet committed.

A disillusioned government diversity specialist recently described the consequences: You cannot overestimate the damage to race relations that "diversity awareness" training is causing in this country. It's having the opposite effect to that intended, causing divisions, resentment, and an increase in judgments based on race, where previously such things were actually quite rare. How do I know this? I was involved in putting together a diversity "toolkit" for a government department, and saw first-hand the effect it had as it was rammed down the throats of staff.
[Quotes from the excellent The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training paper]
[W]hether their main motivator is the carrot or the stick, either way corporate executives have no problem with inflicting emotional degradation upon their own employees in the name of promoting diversity. Shouldn’t shareholders and the rest of the public be made aware of this?

University of Pennsylvania historian Alan Charles Kors argues that for sheer sadism, campus diversity training resembles Maoist Chinese re-education sessions.
Higher education officials furiously promote diversity in hiring and training.

Why don’t more employees challenge this new regime? For one thing, such action might label the dissenter as a troublemaker and open him up to being fired. Second, and related, diversity training from the start has been about manipulating the emotions, not engaging the mind.
[CONTRAST this with Spring 2007 Cato article on "Infidel: My Journey from Somalia to the West" and comments by 31-yr old black female and former Muslim on value of the Western culture, white males and the science and reason they brought to the world]

Challenging the New Regime: CEOs Must Take the Lead

Corporations are in business to provide goods and services to customers willing to pay for them, not to force attitude therapy on employees who don’t need it—and at the threat of being fired or denied a promotion.

If just a few leaders openly repudiated the now-dominant regime, it would spark long-needed debate in every major company in America.

One CEO who has spoken out is T.J. Rodgers, head of the successful San Jose-based computer chip manufacturer, Cypress Semiconductor. Rodgers fired back at Jackson. “He declares racism based on dubious statistics,” he remarked. “Then he gives you a chance to repent—and the basic way to [repent] is to give Jesse money. The threat is you’ll be labeled a racist if you don’t.”

If any employee of a modern corporation spoke out this way, he most likely either would be reprimanded, with an order to attend diversity training, or fired outright. Yet Rodgers is not an employee; he’s an employer. That is what gives him the freedom to speak without fear. He openly challenges the Diversity brigands because he knows the buck stops with him. In exercising his freedom to speak, he effectively gives his employees that same right.

Not many other CEOs, unfortunately, have this kind of spine. Consequently, neither do their employees.

Do CEOs really believe the diversity claptrap or do they put on a happy face to avoid legal and other problems? Either way, they are acting in a manner contrary to the best interests of their companies, shareholders and the public at large. For not only do their actions remove funds from company coffers and into those of their tormentors, but worse, they render employees cynical and fearful, knowing that going along with the diversity hustle is necessary to keeping a job.

Thus far companies have treated their commitment to diversity as though it were an unalloyed good, with no negative consequences. But experience has shown that there are negative consequences, most of all a dreadful silence. We live in an America where the tiniest perceived insult by one employee against another can result in the destruction of a career. This is tyranny—prosperous tyranny, perhaps, but tyranny all the same.
I recommend that those guys who feel demeaned by this crap take legal action under the same provisions as the harassment laws. Because it really is harrassment.

I have a not-quite-unique-but-incredibly-rare viewpoint. I'm Intersexed, which means biologically speaking, I'm neither 100% male nor 100% female. That's pretty common - over 1% of people are, and for about 0.1% it's fairly obvious. But I have one of the really rare conditions like 5ARD or 17BHDD where the appearance changes over time. Psychologically I always was female, but when you have the body of a rugby forward... pretending to be male was easier. Until my body changed.

Anyway, I've seen things from both sides now. I've seen the crap that men have to put up with that many feminists don't recognise - like the fear they feel when they see a child crying, and can't comfort it for fear of having their lives destroyed. I've seen this brain-dead, demeaning rubbish that is "sexual harassment training" that they all have to go through in corporate America, which I can only compare to having mandatory potty training at 6 month intervals.

I've also seen genuine harassment, some of it minor and inadvertent (and which a quiet word would fix), and some of which went over the border into sexual assault, usually by those who come from cultural backgrounds where women are truly second-class citizens. And sometimes by the kind of psychopathic personalities that sometimes end up as senior management.

There is a need for some kind of training, to avoid lawsuits. There's also a need for it, as there are some genuinely good guys who come from a background where a friendly breast grope is quite acceptable. All they need is a 1 hour session once in basic manners.

But mainly it's because in the past, far too many guys who were "brought up right" did nothing when the office boor harassed the secretary. It was ... normal background. Had a gay guy groped their crotch though, they would have exploded. This is an over-reaction to that situation, and just as that situation needed fixing, so does this one. It's harrassment.
[L]ike the Nazis, who went after the Jews with invented claptrap and insane ideas, because the Jews were where the money was, the rise of the sensitivity culture is a piracy culture, an extortionist racket.

At the root of this piracy is the legal system, which has developed an infuriating, disproportionate ability to collect damages beyond all proportion. Thus churches and corporations, being largely productive (the magic word is "have assets") are thrown open to ruin by the disconnect between the jury awards and reason, since the eithical spine of the jurors themselves is the pivot.

Most jurors are well meaning, but suckers for spending other people's money (as are, co-incidentally, your governments, which in the midst of a developing depression, want an even larger division of your labor...why should (socialist) public pensions and salaries and other comforts be inconvenienced by your troubles?).

What has really created a problem is that as socialist dogma in the public schools spreads, it has infected jury pools with irresponsible, self-absorbed, free-lunch types. At least in part because of this, sexual abuses, and God forbid, personal slights and perceived unkindness, which we all know will occur from time to time, become the fodder for disproportionate and destructive awards extracted from well-meaning and/or productive organizations. Small wonder then that the "touchy-feely" elements of the legal rackets promptly step forward with antidotes for the very venoms they spew. The price is reasonable! Just a few thousand dollars per session, or per backgrounder, plus the decency, dignity and presumption of innoncence once promised to us as citizens, and always deserved by decent people.

So what if you get thrown under the bus by the indifference of law and the vile greed of the hyperbolic, extortionate left: on the one hand they have the opportunity to extravagantly loot productive organizations, on the other to to make money immunizing against lawsuits. What's not to like?

This degrades society and wastes resources, but it is easier for institutions and corporations to become the handmaidens of fraud-peddling social engineers, abusing and insulting volunteers or employees, rather than take a principled stand against this abuse.

This is truly a high tech middle ages that is evolving. The age of reason is over.
And even,
I'm fortunate to work at a really great company, where we took this lemon of a law and made lemonade. I'm part of a troupe of in-house improv actors who help put on the training. When I was recruited I warned them that I thought the law was BS. The man in charge considered that a feature, not a bug.

We just finished a show - I mean session - which included upper management actually using the words "welcome wedgie as opposed to unwelcome wedgie" and concluded with an improvised opera called "Nice Jeans".

My heart goes out to anybody who has to watch one of those crappy videos. Although I hear there's one with Wesley Snipes that's pretty, uh, interesting.
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