A friend works for a DC-area medical non-profit, and feels political harassment creates a hostile work environment: I was filing in the hallway while some managers talked about the VP debate. One complained about Palin’s wink, and said she would not be a good president. I chimed in saying I only watched the second half but thought the winking was cute and that I like capable women in leadership. One said "You can’t vote, right?" I said I was a green card holder. "Oh good, we wouldn’t want you to vote." Shortly after, my peers and managers at the weekly work social were told that I am a supporter of Republicans and that they are glad I cannot vote as I would vote for a stupid, uneducated woman because she is cute and winks.
Palin was had the modern version of the KKK lynch mob out to defame her because she was off the plantation. Democrats think they own women, just like they championed slavery and Jim Crow in the past. People who believe the anti Palin BS are dupes of the same kind of mob whose history goes back to before the Civil War.
While I too think Palin is stupid. You shouldn't be harassed at work. Document everything and then go to the HR dept, or your supervisor. If that doesn't work, talk to an attorney.
What if someone is working on a campaign in an office and asks their fellow employees to consider their candidate if they have not chosen a candidate? I also encouraged them to vote regardless. No hostility, plenty of freedom of choice....doesn't seem to harassment...but I have had an employee file a complaint against me because of my leadership position with our company.
I'm not sure if people who are defending the Palin critics in this story have exceptional social skills. What the critics said was out of line because they expressed hostility to the person whom holds the dissenting viewpoint. The Palin critics would not have been out of line to express their dislike of the man's opinion, but they certainly are to be so rude as to say, "we wouldn't want you to vote," and furthermore, to instigate trouble by removing the information asymmetry that allowed the green card holding worker to coexist in an office filled with Democrats who otherwise would not care. What I am trying to say is that there are far more professional and courteous ways to disagree with a person than to say something like, "I'm glad you can't vote" and I hope that the readers of this blog agree. There are other objections to this story, such as the false dichotomy of left-right politics, but I believe what I have covered to be the main point.
It's hard for me to separate how much of this scenario I object to as harassment for views, and how much of it I object to because of the irrational nature of the harassment.
The person didn't say he/she supported Palin. Just that the winking was cute, and he/she supported strong women in leadership roles. The co-workers were operating under the mind killing assumption that there are only two positions, pro or con; and that a "pro" person will make only positive statements, while a "con" person will make only negative statements.
Recently, I hosted a party that was attended mainly by non-Republicans, and one Republican. Some of the attendees assumed that everyone their was not Republican, and made very hostile statements - for example, one person suggested using Republicans as suicide bombers. As host, I asked these people not to make such statements. One person now no longer wishes to see me, because he believes I'm a Republican, on the basis of my not having approved of saying that Republicans should be killed.
So I think the problem is not just harassment, but that politics, and religion, and race, and most of the things we want people to be careful talking about at work, shut peoples' minds down.
I think a bunch of people are missing the point. What makes the described situation unacceptable is the inferred general hostility from the person's superiors that was incurred as a result of the one exchange, not any particular manifestation (or non) of that hostility. It's beside the point of the post to debate whether that hostility was present in this case. I don't have to agree with Robin's friend's comments to think that there was harassment going on there, I just have to think that the superiors' comments were evidence of a more general hostility that would affect their behavior to him in other ways.
The hostility itself isn't unacceptable, of course, (since it's sometimes unavoidable--you don't have to like the people you work with,) it's just communication of that hostility (whether through comments or discrimination).
IOW, good natured potshots are OK. Ill-natured ones are out of bounds.
Is it really "harassment" to simply take conversational potshots at one another over various opinions we may hold? If there is no impact on your job security, promotional chances and so on then exactly where is there any harm? Doesn't freedom include the freedom to both say what you think and say what you think of what someone else says? Is freedom checked at the door when you are at work?
"AAY, frelkins, and Terren, many protected categories are apparently matters of choice, such as parental status, religion, and sexual preference."
Well Robin I didn't defend the law, I merely explained its public justification. Yet now the conversation gets interesting, in terms of taxonomy - here we can see how current society feels identity is constructed by category, can't we? And we can tease apart strands for "innateness," protections that seem to flow from the Bill of Rights, and also overriding social interest.
It also offers insight perhaps into what society presently feels is "natural" or "based in nature" and thus "innate" - race is natural, sex is natural, gender is natural, sexual orientation is natural - being pregnant is natural - freedom of conscience is declared natural by the Constitution - etc.
To the extent that recent genetic work seems to challenge or uphold certain categories of innate, the policy may be beginning to fray at the edges. This perhaps shows how policies are meant to try to signal a society's sense of fairness.
To the extent that your work aims at forcing people to realize what it is they really want, as opposed to what they merely say they want, I suppose that this question flies straight to the core of your concern.
John, what you describe may be the state of things now, but certainly wasn't when the gender/race anti-harassment laws were passed, as I understand. It's only so shocking now because it's been taboo for a while.
Harassing someone about gender or race is likely to disturb even those who aren't part of the target group. Politics, not so much. Religious harassment should probably be allowed.
Thank you for your response - may I add mine?
I agree that it does not sound hostile but it was the complainant who so characterised it (as per RHanson).I agree that everyone is entitled to an opinion and a hearing but joining in implies acceptance of the norms which include rejection and criticism of ones arguments.I agree that 'cuteness' is neither qualification or dis-qualification for office but it was TC who cited it as a positive attribute.
TC's residential status was not inquired of but rather asserted although I accept that this potentially an aggressive assertion (but in the context of TC's interjection)Also pls note that the cited harassment took place at a 'work social' and not actually at work, so the complainant is muddying the waters considerably.
This is not harassment and it is unacceptable to allow someone to characterise as such. Such manipulation has been responsible for a huge diminution in American social life as political correctness and litigousness have flowered.
Harassment is unacceptable as is allowing people to stifle human interactions by shouting 'Fire' every time they lose an argument.
we made rules against harassing people for a few things, like gender, race or religion.
That would be because certain lobby groups thought that they, or people or principles they cared about, would benefit from such laws.
There must be other justifications of course. But those justifications are not the reason.
That seems like an odd way to slice it. The real issue is monopsony. Why are we outlawing any form of discrimination by small businesses when the employee really can get another job? The free market can take care of this case. Not well, but better than court cases. Why are we permitting any form of discrimination by big businesses? The lack of alternatives gives the company un-american powers of coercion. Yes there are reasons for having limited liability laws that permit the formation of large joint stock companies and their rise to great power, but we surely want strong laws to defend us against falling into corporate serfdom.
Religion is a choice (for the most part)
Agreements/disagreements should of course be legal, otherwise might as well call it ditatorship. More regulation is not what most desire even if often is appears that some call for more.
Voting/residential status is something private but a person can always deny answering, which most always leads to a conclusion and judgment...but that is life and goes both ways.
That's quite silly. Politics is a matter of choice, as opposed to race, gender, ethnicity, etc. which you are born with. Having non-harassment laws for things of choice is just stupid.
Shall we have non-harassment laws for everything for which someone may disagree with you? Hey, let's make disagreements illegal. Lets go back to the middle ages with the idiotic church telling us what to do. Let's kill the godless heathens!
@Unbathed: "do you disagree that an adult American who cannot name two U.S. Supreme Court decisions or any newspapers or magazines is uneducated?"
Yes I do disagree. You can't pick one or two facts and say that if a person doesn't know them they are uneducated, any more than you can pick one or two facts that if a person does know them they're a genius. You have to look at the person as a whole.