Saturday, May 18, 2013

Silence Will Be Punished?

Matt Barber reports on a memo notifying employees of our federal Department of Justice that just quietly ignoring those who want a week of celebration of gender-confusion, of all sorts, "will be interpreted as disapproval." And punished. In other words, it's not good enough for federal employees to leave their home lives at home, be professional, and say nothing about their disapproval of other people's lifestyle choices. Some, but not all, unpopular lifestyle choices must be actively celebrated. Or else.

This web site actively celebrates anyone who's made the courageous decision to keep their private life private. Like, this web site often mentions that Grandma Bonnie Peters and I were once married to men and are now widows, but you'll notice we don't talk about anything currently going on in anybody's bedroom. This web site also keeps any mention of children very impersonal and anonymous, blurs the identities of anyone referred to by a term of kinship, assigns screen names to people who don't have screen names of their own, and even stays out of local disputes that aren't closely aligned with any general political philosophy (do we have more police officers than we need? what should county government do with a certain piece of land it's acquired? etc. etc.). That's a conscious decision, and I for one appreciate working with people who've made it.

Are you heterosexual, homosexual, or asexual (and why is the DOJ not using taxpayers' money to celebrate the two of those things)? Do you feel that your body shape accurately reflects your gender identity? More to the point, are you actively looking for a new bedmate, or satisfied with the one you have? Personally, I celebrate and sing the delights of not telling anyone your answers to these questions, whatever they may be. If you're not asking me for a date, you don't need to know whether I'm married or not. (If you are asking me for a date, you should already know the answer.) And I don't need, or really want, to know that kind of thing about you, either, unless I've known you for a good long time, know that you're discreet and respectful of privacy, and have eaten or slept in your house and invited you to eat or sleep in mine.

Are you radiating joy because the current object of your infatuation noticed you're alive, or oozing misery because a suspicious-looking card fell out of your mate's coat pocket? What about keeping those emotions to yourself and concentrating on getting some work done? I don't know about some people's private employers, but as a taxpayer I am our government employees' employer, and I do not want to pay them to sit around gossipping about their personal relationships. I want them to go to work, find clearly defined work assignments on their desks, do those tasks, and go home.

Heaven forbid and fend that any workplace should ever for a minute resemble a junior high school locker room.

And does anybody out there care about the feelings of people whose Significant Others or close relatives may be dead? Does anybody out there ever imagine that refusing to shut up about your sex lives may create an emotionally hurtful atmosphere for someone whose Partner for Life happens to be bedfast? Does anybody out there ever imagine that blathering on about your family life, for that matter, may also excoriate the emotions of someone who's lost a child? Well, here I stand to testify that talking about how much of a raise you got may make your co-workers envy you or even want to try to emulate what you did, or the opposite, but talking about your personal life may make your co-workers cry real tears. If none of your co-workers is currently grieving for anyone, now is still a good time to form a habit of reticence, before someone is.

Whatever employees' sexual issues or other personal issues may be, employers should encourage them to be decent human beings. Don't ask, and don't tell.