The Knife is Coming

From yesterday’s (Nov. 11 2017) Wall Street Journal, P. 1:

Top brass at advertising giant Interpublic Group of Cos. told its 20,000 US employees last week they had until year’s end to complete sexual-harassment training. The session quizzes employees on what to do when a co-worker discusses weekend sexual exploits at work or when a colleague comes on to a colleague’s girlfriend after hours […]

“Women are crucial to our business,” says Mr Roth [CEO]. “We need our environment to be safe for all.”

(All boldings mine.)

Let me put the two statements together for you in a familiar television-like form.

John, Mary, and Peter work together in the same office. One day, they go out together for drinks after work. Jane, John’s girlfriend – who works elsewhere – joins them. Peter flirts with Jane (JANE); he even slip her his cell-phone number. Mary (MARY) feels unsafe.

It’s bat shit crazy. Is there no limit to the absurdities we will listen too peacefully?

If a man can create an unsafe work environment for a female colleague by hitting on another woman employed somewhere else and who welcomes the advances, is there any limit to what constitutes sexual harassment?

How about Mark looks at Jeanne – whom he does not know – at the bus stop, and Mark’s coworker, Jennifer catches his look and feels unsafe?

Will anyone shout: “Absurd”?

Myself, I don’t see just absurdity here. Since the Weinstein explosion less than two months ago (but still no lawsuit to tell us what really happened, if anything), I have begun to discern an attempted mass castration. If there is nothing men can do to stop from being sexual harassers who make women feel unsafe – even indirectly, as in the example above – it’s the fact of being a man itself that is offensive and that needs to be repressed. The knife is coming, ladies and gentlemen!

The most disturbing and the most worrisome aspect of all this mass movement is the lack of backbone demonstrated by many male decision-makers, such as Mr Roth, in this story, who hardly needs the operation, by the way.

Not far behind, is the passivity – so far – of rational women who stand to lose a great deal of peace of mind and other benefits, to the extent that the mass surgical intervention succeeds.

Note that I am not hinting at conspiracy. With the powerful domination of a few newspapers and of fewer TV channels, with the effectiveness of the social media, conventional conspiracies have become obsolete. Throw wet garbage and see if it sticks. If it does not, you and your actions will have been forgotten tomorrow anyway. Some harm done; no price to pay!

What needs to be done? Fight back. Denounce every crazy statement. Affirm rationality. Be ready for a little temporary social exclusion. You will soon find that most people are on your side. They just couldn’t believe what they saw and heard until you gave them a shout-out.

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Open Season on White Males

California has a statute (I hesitate to say “law” but that’s another story) called the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. Will all those in favor of child abuse or neglect please raise their hands? Nobody? So how could anyone object?

Some background: the statute designates certain people as “mandated reporters” of child abuse or neglect. These “reporters” include people whose duties involve regular contact with children, or supervisors of such people. Some higher-ups at the California State University System, which includes San Jose State where I teach a single class, hit the panic button recently and decided every employee in the whole system, tens of thousands of people, would be designated a “mandated reporter.” This would include not just teachers but also janitors, clerks, administrators, etc.

This decision sets up some really nasty incentives.

First, designated reporters are subject to fines and/or jail time if they fail to report an incident. Nothing is said about penalties for filing false reports. Therefore, sure as God made green apples, reports will surge. Anyone who even remotely suspects something that smacks of child abuse will file a report because they have nothing to lose by doing so and a lot to lose by not doing so.

Second, those who file reports are not civilly or criminally liable for their reports. Their identities are kept secret. Here we have a door wide open for anonymous attacks on anybody for just about any reason. Anybody can concoct a story and then hide out, knowing their target could well spend ungodly amounts of time and money digging himself out from under the accusation.

Notice I said “himself.” White males are prime targets, especially those who are “politically incorrect,” including this humble writer.

It’s true that I and many of my colleagues have almost no contact with children. An under-eighteen student might on rare occasions find her way into one of our upper division classes. So it would seem we are at minimal risk. But in fact we are at great risk from charges of something similar to child abuse: sexual harassment. As far as I know there isn’t a mandated reporter law about sexual harassment but that hardly matters – I’m sure we can get in just as much hot water if charged with sexual harassment as with child abuse. All it would take is some female student, unhappy with her grade, to concoct some story about goings-on in my office, or merely some remark or look I supposedly gave her in class. Again, I’d be toast.

We have been ordered to sign a form acknowledging our status as child-abuse reporters. We’ll see. And that’s not all: an online indoctrination course is coming our way. I endured a similar course at Santa Clara University and I cringe at the prospect. Note to students with an entrepreneurial bent: start a business taking these “courses” on behalf of recalcitrant faculty.

Incidentally, where is the union when I need them? Yes, there’s a faculty union which has been helping itself to part of my paycheck for many years now without my permission and with no discernable benefit to me. As yet I have heard nothing from the union on this matter, and I don’t expect to.

Sexual Harassment, Sex, Politics, and Herman Cain

Herman Cain, the GOP candidate who both speaks the conservative talk and is good-looking is the subject of accusations of sexual harassment. It was bound to happen sooner or later because Democrats, the only authorized party of oppressed minorities, cannot allow a successful member of the largest oppressed minority to give the lie to their lies. The particular nature of the attack was also predictable. Liberals are not sophisticated by and large. Plus, half of the Democratic Party used to be in the Jim Crow South. There are collective memories: Black men in general have a trouble controlling their sexual urges; it’s a well-known fact.

Do I think there were sexual harassment complaints against Herman Cain when he was a powerful, highly visible official of an association? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were. I would be surprised instead if there were a single man corresponding to that description anywhere, anytime in the past thirty years against whom there were no such complaints at all. They go with the territory. Create new grounds to blackmail and there will be more blackmailers.

Do I think he did it? Yes, I do. I mean by this that Herman Cain almost certainly engaged repeatedly in behavior that someone somewhere would call sexual harassment. And since juries can be fickle, unpredictable, it’s rational (although detestable) for companies to settle. It’s especially tempting if they can settle on the cheap: $10,000 is “five figures.” I also mean something you all already know about sexual harassment but that you may have forgotten because of the pounding of dozens of years of political correctness. Continue reading