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Speaking the Truth

Have you noticed how difficult it is to speak the truth in the workplace today? Thatís because Political Correctness (PC) has limited what we can say and to whom. Even if it is as plain as that vaguely shaped protuberance on your face. Pretty soon we wonít be able to say anything at all. Even in our own home.

One extreme of this passion for political correctness has tempered much of the public discourse and shattered many fairly innocuous public debates. You canít say Christmas any more because of course it refers to just one religion. So ďHappy HolidaysĒ or perhaps ďHave a safe winter solstice.Ē might be more PC appropriate.

I even saw an article that analyzed that ultimate Canadian winter tradition, the snowman. An art historian in Great Britain studied snowmen for five years and concluded that a snowman is simply another symbol of male dominance. Her facts: The snowman is always a white, male adult who tends to stand outside while the woman is in the kitchen cooking dinner. She even criticized the use of a corncob pipe as promoting tobacco use.

The other amazing thing about the PC police is that they profess to be tolerant of a diversity of cultures, race, gender, ideology and alternate lifestyles. They are tolerant of everyone except for those who disagree with their philosophy. Then you are bigoted, biased, sexist, and most likely closed-minded as well. If you are a white male your only appropriate response is to profess your sorrow and guilt over all of the atrocities that you and kinsmen have committed over the past ten thousand years.

My first response to the Politically Correct storm troopers is usually to tell them to get a grip. How important is it anyway? My second response is to lighten up. How can you not see the humor in some of this verbal strangulation? To take PCness to its humorous extreme, here are a few suggestions gleaned from the ever present, ever anonymous Internet:

He is not stupid; he suffers from minimal cranial development.
He is not balding; he is in follicle regression.
He does not get falling-down drunk; he becomes accidentally horizontal.
He is not short; he is anatomically compact.

He does not hog the blankets; he is thermally unappreciative.
He is not afraid of commitment; he is monogamously challenged.

Most of these statements will garner you a few laughs from your friends and a few glowering glances from the unappreciative. They do serve a valuable lesson in reminding us how many things have become verboten in society and in the workplace.

I understand sexual harassment to be unwanted sexual attention, but does that really mean that I canít comment positively to a man or woman in the workplace that their clothes look nice? I know why we donít call grown women girls, but why is the term ladies not acceptable? I learned it from my parents as politeness not correctness. It seems to me that too many barriers are now being placed between all of us at the workplace as a result of the literal and figurative dumbness of the PC train. I say itís time to get off.

Sometimes it is necessary for me to speak open and honestly about a situation in the workplace, to speak the truth. When I do that I may be brusque and even insensitive, but I have found that speaking openly, without the haze of pretense not only helps me, but that the person receiving this information prefers it that way; undiluted and undistilled. I want the response from that person to be direct as well. Not only do we clearly understand each other as a result of this exchange we get to the solution faster and cause fewer problems along the way.

I donít know about you but I get confused when I try to be politically correct. I mangle the terms and never know which one to use. Is it disabled person, otherwise-abled person, or person with a disability? Will I offend someone if I use the wrong term? Whatever you prefer to be called is okay with me. My only concern as an employer is where you would like me to put the ramp for your wheelchair or how I can accommodate you.

Political Correctness is mostly a fabrication of small minds who want others to think exactly like them. I think it is an unwanted intrusion into our working lives. Itís time for a little less PC and a lot more honesty.


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