Lamenting the death of common sense
Some of you would be itching to report me to the PC authorities if you overheard a conversation with my kids about discrimination. It goes something like this:
“I know everyone else says they don’t, but of course I discriminate. I discriminate based on how people behave, not what they look like, not where they came from, not their accent, not which religion they belong to, not who they love.
“If a man wears his pants well below his waist to imitate prison life, that makes him a fool whether he is black or white. If an able-bodied woman lives her life by taking benefits from government programs when she could be working, that makes her a parasite whether she is Hispanic, or Asian like you. Responsible, self-reliant people come in all flavors, and so do worthless louts who take much and contribute nothing.”
Some parents I know teach their kids adopted from China to think of themselves as Chinese-American, and to be wary of discrimination against that group. Not me. I teach my girls to think of themselves as Americans who happened to be born in China, that they should avoid the foolishness of putting people in groups and not put up with discrimination against anybody.
If I succeed in my efforts — my teenager shows promising signs of common sense — they will inevitably be at odds with their peers, their teachers and their government because common sense is no longer encouraged.
Fighting discrimination long ago left common sense behind. For example, last week the U.S. Dept of Justice ruled that the Arizona school system cannot base the hiring of English teachers on a good command of the English language, because that would discriminate against Hispanic teachers who have a strong accent. You be the judge.
Two weeks ago I told you about our government’s new initiative to promote diversity in the federal workforce even though minorities in that very workforce are already over-represented as compared to the general population.
Whatever is at work here in your name and mine, it seems to have nothing to do with common sense, but then federal programs in practice often have little resemblance to their original stated purpose.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Equal Employment Opportunity) was intended to fight discrimination in hiring, but in practice the regs implemented a preference system that simply changed the groups discriminated for and against.
Apparently, the notion of treating everyone the same while identifying and resolving real cases of discrimination, well, such an idea didn’t get legs because common sense is scarce when regs are being written.
So here we are in the land of reverse discrimination, where equal employment opportunity is not enough, where an assured outcome is sought based on what you look like, not what you are able to do.
The Title VII EEO absurdities gained new traction in the form of the Americans With Disabilities Act, signed into law with pride in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Who can argue with equal treatment for the disabled? Well, let’s take a look at just one small part of the regs that have governed our workplace lives for a long time.
My anecdote involves an employee, a senior Investigator who drank to excess after hours. He knew it was noticed and that there would be consequences if it ever showed up in the workplace. Eventually, it did, and I pulled him off a case in Boston and returned him to our Pennsylvania office under disciplinary action while I explored with Personnel whether I had enough cause to fire him.
But he beat me to the punch with his own phone call to Personnel claiming he wanted help with an alcohol problem, which immediately put him under the protective ADA umbrella. He was now “disabled by the disease” of alcoholism, needed treatment, and as a victim could not be further disciplined. I knew then that Toto and I were no longer in Kansas.
We now have a generation, including many of you and even doctors you might assume are otherwise capable of independent thought, who now firmly believe the silliness that alcoholism is a disease, not the obvious result of your own misbehavior.
I say that as one who drank too much for a long time many years ago, but even then I never lost sight of being the sole culprit. But ask your neighbor – anyone who doesn’t classify alcoholism as a disease must be a dinosaur. Score one for the terminally sensitive, but at least I’m a dinosaur who can see clearly.
Old Dominion Freight Line, based in Thomasville, N.C., has a policy that drivers with an alcohol problem will be removed from a driving role permanently. Sounds like a good policy to me, but last week the EEOC sued Old Dominion for discrimination against Charles Grams, a driver with a drinking problem who was reassigned to loading dock duties.
EEOC says Old Dominion should not have taken the driver’s keys away from him because he is “disabled by a disease,” they should have paid for counseling for him and monitored his driving to assure safety.
EEOC also says the Old Dominion policy is contrary to ADA law and wants the driver reinstated with back pay plus compensatory and punitive damages. Your government at work.
While in the driver’s seat myself last week, I nearly drove off the road when I heard a public service ad about help for those who suffer from the disease of obesity. Disease? First alcoholism, now these bleeding heart dimwits want to classify obesity as a disease? I’m fat, not stupid.
Is there no limit to the short-sighted damage we do to our own culture in the relentless quest to make everyone feel good? Apparently not, as illustrated by the winner of this week’s absurdity contest.
Hilda Solis, the Obama Administration’s Secretary of Labor, has signed agreements with Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, pledging that their migrant workers in the U.S., whether legal or illegal, will receive the same workplace rights as American citizens. The fact she is Hispanic herself is of little consequence, and she plans to extend her one-woman treaty tour to Asian countries as well.
It’s bad enough that our government refuses to enforce immigration law. It’s bad enough that border states who step in to deal with illegal immigrants are sued and pilloried by our own federal government. It’s bad enough that our current president has ordered his agents to ignore immigration court deportation orders. Now we have a Labor Secretary exceeding her authority to promise U.S. workplace absurd rights, at your expense, for illegals. I should know better by now, but I feel like I fell down the rabbit hole.
Maybe the real fun will start when “undocumented Paco” shows up under the influence on the job one day and is smart enough to contact Personnel pronto to claim ADA status protection even though he’s paid in cash under the table.
I’ve stopped believing such ridiculous things surely cannot happen. If Paco is ever able to pull it off, he’ll probably be smart enough to be thinking about stupid Americans, all those advantages and no common sense.
But then, the rules created in Washington to control our lives have been devoid of common sense for a long, long time.
[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen.]